Its always good to be back on one’s own ground after a trip. The roof for the trampoline has arrived whilst we’ve been away so Richard and Kev fit it on with Samuel bouncing around in it whilst Henrietta and I take Isaac down to the little village shoe shop to have his feet measured for new school shoes and trainers. He comes away looking very pleased - particularly with the trainers which are very sophisticated and colourful.
Whilst Richard’s cooking the supper I’m busy cutting out patterns as they both fallen in love with the humorous Loch Ness monster variations on a tea towel - Happy-Ness; Lazy-Ness; Shy-Ness; particularly Cool-Ness and Isaac had suggested on the voyage back that they would make very nice soft toys. So Richard told him that I had designed and made some many years ago (a group of which gained the Council of Industrial Design Award at the time and were exhibited in Gloucester Folk Museum recently). I try to show them that you need to make a pattern which I do out of tracing paper, trying to enlarge it as I go. After the cutting and sewing of the fabric we turn them inside out and fill them with a fire resistant soft stuffing. I then start stitching the open edge up after the meal and its rather a race for time as they are already belted into the car. Richard colours in the blue and draws the face on Isaac’s Cool-Ness for me and I the face on Samuel’s green Shy-Ness.
R takes my Mum shopping whilst I do a little more on the painting that will be going to the USA this month.
Gary rings to discuss timing for exhibition there.
Take photographs of the treasures from Tiree (shells, crabs and pebbles).
Nice e mail from Tiffany at Panter & Hall gallery, suggesting they visit towards the end of the month.
Continue working on the painting for the USA
Still harvesting plums from the tree - they almost look too picturesque to pick as their colour and bloom is so beautiful, a soft red/yellow but I do and they are as good to the taste as they are to the eye. Unfortunately the few apples that were on the trees have blown off so its a rather sad year for them. Though I do have more apricots than usual.
Long call from Michelle Blondel making sure that I knew they had now moved to the newly renovated gallery at 50 rue du Temple. Although they have owned this gallery space for many years - it was Blondel 2 in the 90s - they tended to use it for Alain’s development of Encyclia the computer programme that he designed for museums and galleries as well as his own cataloguing of the work of the 1930s artist Tamara de Lempicka of whom he is the world expert. They have also organised an exhibition another 1930s artist Federico Beltran Masses
(1885-1949) in London during the Autumn.
Still working on the painting that’s going to the USA.
Very enjoyable breakfast courtesy the General at ARRC who gave fascinating talk on what they do there - to the Bishops Breakfast Group.
Ceri Jones also gave short talk on what it was like to be High Sheriff during his year of office. Entertaining and witty as well as caring
Lovely garden party in the Dobbin’s beautiful gardens designed by Morag created out of what were fields. Its in aid of a primary school in Uganda. Bought lots of plants at the plant stall. Echo photographer recognises me and asks us to sit on bench with the view across their fountain and across and elegant channel of water that flows along the greater length of the garden away from the house. Packed with people enjoying the glorious evening sunshine. Wallace Dobbin tells me he’s going to be cycling in a 100 mile race this weekend. Then its back to work
Edward comes to the door promptly at 7.15 as he and Alyson are giving us a lift to Mark and Julia Hurrell’s for dinner. When we arrive they take us through to their lovely garden at the back where Chris and Alison Oldershaw already are. The weather today has been glorious so its still just warm enough for a drink in the garden where Julia’s obviously been hard at work planting whilst Mark looks after the grass. They also have a half allotment where most of the vegetables for the ratatouille and the potatoes we eat have been grown. Its a delicious meal that Julia has obviously taken great joy in making and the local Three Choirs wine is really good. The conversations are interestingly often focussed on Gloucetershire with Edward and Mark having a strong connection with the Festivals, they had recently been to the AGM. which with the recent cuts are finding it, like most arts organisations, difficult to balance the books. We discuss Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum’s new development too and the idea of having a shorter more catchy name. We also talk about this city of Gloucester with its magnificent Cathedral and ancient architecture plus its redevelopment which Chris manages. Mark told us about their journey to the Holy Land, also their forthcoming trip to Turkey. Edward’s playing cricket in Weston super Mare tomorrow so we make our departure at about midnight.
Back in the studio, working on all fronts although slightly distracted by the man (Richard) who’s painting my large circular window on the scaffolding tower which I find just a bit worrying as I feel he should have put a higher guard around, especially when he’s chatting to Roger!
R goes to Paris at midnight to collect some more books.
Trying to make good progress in studio whilst R is in Paris. He’s quite remarkable in that he manages to get back by 1 am. having had a sleep on the ferry each way and also stopping at interval en route for the same......
......I stay up until 6 am finishing the painting for him to take to be photographed at 7.30 in the morning.
Call from Simon at the Alpha Gallery, Cork Street with dates for my forthcoming exhibition there.
Set out for London at lunchtime and Richard manages to get us there at just the right time for tea with Dr Lewis. Her collection is every bit as stunning as Rob and also Sheridan describes. There is the most exquisite reclining female nude by Cranach - its a very large piece and in pristine condition although as Richard points out the wood panel has bowed with age. A lovely head and shoulders of a heavy lidded women by one of Leonardo’s pupils, a magnificent Fantin la Tour, Vlaminck and four beautiful Edward Burras, two vibrant Lautrec lithographs a lovely sculpted head of Renoir by Rodin and a fabulous range of bronzes two of which are currently in the Royal Academy’s highly acclaimed Bronze exhibition the opening of which Hilda attended last night.
After this we drive up to Stoke Newington to see Nathan. Ruth isn’t there as she’s art directing. The flat looks fantastic with it’s new kitchen he’s hidden everything behind cupboards which makes the whole room look very much bigger as of course it also part of the living room where he has laid beautiful oak flooring. It is quite transformed and even their bicycles which are hanging on the bedroom wall are concealed by a mirrored wardrobe door. We walk up to Church Street to the Mexican restaurant there and have a really enjoyable meal. Its lovely to catch up with Nathan as we haven’t seen him (or Ruth) since the beginning of July. After a coffee back at the flat we leave at about 12.30.
Back in studio working towards the exhibition.
Travel to Lord Vestey’s Stowell Park for a fund raising event organised by the Friends of the Three Choirs Festival that John Holroyd had sent me an invitation to. A delightful evening , singing by the choir from a balcony in the ballroom and capped by Judith, John’s delightful wife taking us through the stunning gardens to the extensive vegetable gardens where it looked as if enough was being grown to feed the region.
Big concentration of effort on the three new works for the exhibition.
Stop work at about half past five to get ready to travel to Shipston on Stour to give a talk to the arts and crafts society there, with the help of Richard using the new projector. They are a very good audience and tell me at half time how much they are enjoying it. Their treasurer has even made a cherry cake specially to go with the tea or coffee at the break - they don’t get this at every meeting. Richard said it was very good but I didn’t risk eating any in case the crumbs made me cough. I’m most touched as they remembered that rather than expenses I asked for a contribution to my fund for the National Star College. Its about 11 pm by the time we get back
Busy in studio
Up early to travel over to Westonbirt where I attend the trustees of the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail Trust meeting. There are two new trustees, Glynn Williams the sculptor who until a few years ago was professor of sculpture at the Royal College and Jack Fortesque director of Acme Studios. Its a good meeting although by the time I do my presentation on the advantages of having a Friends group, two or three of the members have had to leave for their return to London and other places. But I’m not sure that at the moment that they are ready for a Friends Group as I wonder if there is enough solidarity of purpose. Glynn suggests we should wait until the new web site is up. I’m rather pleased we finish at 3.30 rather than the 4.00 Andrew had suggested as it gives us time to get to Painswick for Gloucestershire Media’s launch of their first glossy edition of Weekend Magazine which has also been revamped. It looks excellent. I chat to Ian Mean the editor in chief and Jilly Cooper who is such a lovely warm person and when she says her few words touchingly points out that the photographers don’t have a big enough accreditation as their name is printed very small over the picture whilst the writers’ names are writ large. Also chat to Jill Zeigler who I’ve known since student days - wife of Zog their motoring correspondent.
Up early to travel to London. Ring Dr Lewis en route to say e will be a bit late as traffic conditions aren’t good. She looks bright and happy when we arrive, she’s already rehung (with the help of the porter) Circus by Moonlight and Liberty after coming up with ideas whilst she lay in bed and they do indeed look right. Richard rehangs the Burra , Munch and Bakst for her; also rehang a whole guest room that she has asked me to suggest how to make it look better so R does a lot of manoeuvring. Hilda has a natural instinct of what will go with what and like me likes to try things in different positions first. Richard also hangs a very large C-print that she had bought at a charity auction and whilst we are in the midst of this her lovely granddaughter Natalie arrives who has trained as an architect as they are going for a walk in Hyde Park. Hilda is a remarkable woman and does a huge amount for charities and has such a lively and imaginative interest in everything.
Then onto the Alpha Gallery in Cork Street where we have a long discussion with Silja, Gary’s wife about my forthcoming exhibition there. Its particularly interesting talking to her as like Margus and Juri, Silja is Estonian and also studied at the University of Tartu. We were hoping to go and see the Bronze exhibition at the Academy but as it was after 5 when we left the gallery have postponed it to another trip.
Further long discussions via phone with Gary.
Later working on the large Breakfast and The Toast
E mail for Lucy, acting editor and feature writer of Weekend Magazine, asking if they might send a photographer to take picture for their new interiors feature in the magazine. Really good as we arrange for it to be mid October so that it will coincide with the exhibition that opens of 8th November.
Some dialogue via e mail with Silja at the Alpha Gallery re images for the exhibition. I am still working very hard on three or four of them trying to complete for deadlines.
Visit from Tiffany and Matthew of Panter & Hall. Very interesting to find that Matthew was at Dean Close School so knows the area well and did early on, work for John Noot in Broadway. They are both very amiable and we exchange a lot of stories. I’m also very pleased as they always advise their artists to sign up to ACS to handle artists resale right (the not for profit company of which I am a director, founded by Harriet Bridgeman). Ideally they’d like to take a large painting to the London Art Fair at Islington in January and perhaps a couple of smaller pieces too.
Miranda rings from Brian Sinfield Gallery to say thank you for the 40th Anniversary card and e mail of congratulations I’d sent to the gallery having reached its 40th birthday. She also tells me that they have sold the little seascape painting. This is shortly followed by a call from Rob discussing works for the fair.
Its a beautiful bright morning when Cressida comes through the door. Its lovely to see her particularly as its some time since we last met. She has come to write a piece for Art Magazine; a highly acclaimed writer whose books include The Happiest Days, a collection of short stories that won the Macmillan/PEN Prize; The Rare and Beautiful, a superb biography of the Garman family and her first novel which was published earlier this year, My Former Heart. We go to the upstairs studio in the house first, to have a look at some of the things I’m working on, where the Hare of Tiree seems to be the painting she is most drawn to. When we cross the Lane to the bigger studio I’m very pleased as she particulaly comments on A Bigger Wave and Nocturne as all three are being prepared for my London show. We then move into the kitchen where she continues to make notes longhand, having explained that she doesn’t like using tape recorders and that when she had for the interview with Maya Angelou, she felt it somehow got in the way. After the interview has finished Richard joins us for a bread and cheese lunch which is a very nice part as it gives us time to catch up.
Working on all fronts in studio
We go to the Parabola Arts Centre for the conversation between the writer Joanna Trollope and Edward Gillespie MD of the racecourse and important figure in Gloucestershire’s community. Organised by Gina, chairman of the Friends of Cheltenham Art Gallery for the fund towards the new development. It’s entertaining and enlightening as both speakers are witty and engaging. Joanna is a very articulate and elegant woman and I’m delighted to talk to her at the reception during the interval.