Saturday, 15 May 2021

Lockdown memories of Japan and an exhibition in Malmesbury Town Hall

 Lockdown no 3 was tough, but having some great memories and many photographs to look back on was a definite plus!  Five years ago we were in Japan and among the many amazing things we loved were the beautiful arrangements of flowers in some of the hotels and places of interest we visited.  Ikebana is the term used in Japan for these simple but meaningful displays and they are placed in a tokonoma or alcove often with a scroll with Japanese characters, or picture hanging behind. 

These displays inspired me to make my own versions, using collage, incorporating some of the papers, stamps and other items gathered while travelling.  Tatami mats are used in houses throughout Japan, and paper screens are also still used in many traditional homes.  

I wasn't expecting to exhibit these pictures, but was recently invited to do so, alongside the  beautiful Japanese  watercolours of Katsumi Harada, late father of Junko Lake who I met just before we went to Japan and who gave me Japanese lessons, which proved invaluable during our travels!  

The exhibition will be at Malmesbury Town Hall from Friday 28th May until Friday 18th June 2021, closed Sundays and Bank Holiday Monday 31st May. 

A separate blog will give the biography of Katsumi Harada.  

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

What's in the box?

No, this wasn't what was in the box!  

I collected a sealed box today from the agent  who acted on my behalf in obtaining a commission from Japan 5 years ago.  I was excited to see what was inside and found these lovely sample items which had been sent  at the time of the launch, by Afternoon Tea, who produced them,  using my artwork, for sale in their many stores throughout Japan !
 Look carefully and you will see my stamp collage designs on mugs, packaging and labelling on tea bags, bubble bath, body wash and  bath pearls!   I was so pleased to receive this prestigious commission and it's lovely to be able to keep these pretty items now !   And Emerald was just as excited to get in the empty box! 

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Mobile Post office near the canal at Brimscombe on its weekly visit

I wasn’t expecting to come across this mobile post office after  a walk along the canal tow path,  but when we reached Brimscombe we found this one  parked near The Ship Inn  on its weekly visit. Since the closure of many village post offices this service has become a vital link for many people. On Thursdays, it starts at Kingscote, 9-10, Shipton Moyne 10.30-11.30,  Chalford 12.30-1.30, Brimscombe 1.45-3.15,  Whitminster 3.45-4.45. Avening, and Duntisbourne among many others.  The post van vists other areas on four days of the week. 
Wearing my face mask, as was the counter assistant, I boarded the van and bought a few stamps! 

Scribbling .. and connecting with Cy Twombly

I had fun recently, scribbling away, testing pens, felt tips, coloured pencils, some of dubious quality,  and sharpening pencils at record breaking speed with  my newly acquired battery  powered sharpener.
A couple of sheets of satisfying  scribble  resulted.
A friend had mentioned the American artist Cy Twombly, whose work is,  to be polite, beyond my understanding  and  I commented  that this may be how he made some of  his work.  But joking apart, I recalled reading that he had lived for periods of time in Italy in a small town called Bassano in Teverina, an hour or so away from Rome where we spent a holiday, 7 years ago, staying  in a very old house full of character.  I  tried at that time  to find out where it was that Cy Twombly  had been living, but I never knew found out exactly where, or indeed if he had ever lived there.  But now, with  time to look back at photos, sketch books etc, and doing  a bit of research with a view to appreciating  his work, as some obviously do,  I finally located a photo of the Palazzo which he had owned and renovated, and where he produced  a lot of his work, some of which I have found a little more interesting, and possibly even inspiring. The massive old building looked familiar, and we had indeed passed it on walks.

We'd been given use of  a swimming pool in a  large garden, which was  a  20 minute walk from the house where we were staying, descending the cobbled streets of the town and meandering along pine tree lined paths. I spent a couple of afternoons sketching and painting the scene from the poolside but I didn't know then  that I had unwittingly drawn the back view of Cy's house - with its three arched tower.  This  revelation is almost as exciting to me  as my newly discovered electric sharpener. 
I'm no closer in understanding his work but for some reason am now becoming more intrigued by it and I feel it may lead me to explore different ways of working,but hopefully something other than  just  scribbling!
Bassano in Teverina

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Letters and cards in lockdown .. It's always great to receive letters!

I received a lovely letter today  from an elderly lady, a customer who bought a collage from me years ago, and has  also become a good friend.  Like me, she has been busy, writing letters, phoning friends,  gardening, reading  and she  lives with her family so is well looked after.
As she writes and receives so many letters, she often sends me stamps which I can use in my stamp collages and often buys  a selection of cards.  I hope I've  chosen well this time  :   5 large A5, 5  medium A6 and 5 square cards, all with envelopes in a variety of designs.  There are many more on my website  including ships, flags, flowers, landmarks and some more abstract designs.  I'm offering these at 5 for £10 to include postage within UK.  Please get in touch by e mail : or facebook messenger  if you'd like some too!

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

What's the story, Morning Glory?

I love Morning Glory, a beautiful deep blue climbing plant, which I remember seeing growing everywhere when we were in Turkey more than 20 years ago ..and had to get the photos out ...

I've tried growing it myself but without any success, but having given my green-fingered friend Beth some seeds, she has managed year after year to produce some wonderful blooms!  And last year she gathered some of the seeds and gave me a packet which I've planted and also some seedlings she has grown, which look decidedly healthier than mine. I'm eagerly awaiting a brilliant show of colour in a couple of months time!
But if not, I'll have to make do with some Morning Glories on a couple of Japanese stamps I came across today .. they're going in my 2021 diary.See previous post of 30th March on how I made a 2021 dairy to put in all those dates cancelled from 2020.  You can find it on my  website,  - blog.   You may like to make one too.    I'll be putting one of these stamps on one of next year's pages - and hoping to do that when the first flower appears.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Stamp Rainbows and rainbows on stamps

Children everywhere have been making rainbows tohelp cheer us up during this dreadful time of Coronavirus pandemic and I was inspired to make one too, using stamps.
 Yellow stamps, as always were the most difficult to find, but I eventually found just enough  from GB, France, USA and Japan to complete the yellow band of the rainbow. On a second rainbow I cheated slightly and used gold 1st class stamps!  This was an absorbing activity for a few  hours and while making my collage, I was contemplating the sad reality of how many lives have now been lost in so many of  countries where my stamps have come from.  The iconic US stamp featuring the Statue of Liberty, a proud symbol of New York, is a poignant reminder of how tragically large cities are the worst affected by the virus.