Monday, 21 February 2011


In my previous blog I mentioned the Cricket Pavilion at Stanway. My Friend has done a lovely sketch of it. You can find it on 
 I'm up in the glorious Forest of Dean ,a great place for walks whatever the being dull, grey and wet! The forest has a great Sculpture Trail which is good to see and also for getting children to walk further...can you find the next sculpture etc etc. There are a couple of sculptures by David Nash, Deer by Sophie Ryder and a stained glass window by Kevin Atherton. Unfortunately the latest sculpture by David Cotterrell is collapsing and is now fenced off. It is an 11 metre high giant pyramid made from metal baskets filled with spoil. After being unveiled in the Autumn it began to twist and lean. The artist said  it is deliberately designed to change and be reclaimed by the Forest to show how human manipulation of the landscape is temporary. He also said ' It was never my intention it would stay like that forever, It is not a static structure made of stone. In time it will be covered in bluebells and look like a hill rather than a pyramid and find it's natural position in the landscape' . By the looks of it that will be a flat horizontal hill rather than a vertical one.  My thoughts are that it was commissioned to be situated where families walk and should never have been commissioned in the first place if someone knew that it would fall over. I do think that it is bonkers these days because no one will accept responsibility for their own actions. Even when it is obviously their fault . A well known decorator apparently won't prime or prepare the surfaces to be painted and won't varnish. Is this a get out so that if the decoration cracks or falls off he can blame whoever prepared or did the finishing? Surely as an artist you want your artwork to be as sturdy and long lasting...if you build a pyramid shape, surely you expect it to remain in that shape ? What do you think ?

Friday, 18 February 2011

My Workshop

Yes this really is my workshop. It's called The Limehouse, hence the limehouse blog. My rents due so my next trip is to see Lord Wemys in his office at Stanway House. He is quite an amazing man, constantly on the go up and down to his estate in Scotland etc but always remembers who you are and asks whats going on and is very genuine.Stanway House is a beautiful Jacobean Manor house with a fantastic gravity fed fountain that rises to 300feet...the tallest in Britain. There is more information at
The nearby thatched cricket pavilion was donated by J.M.Barrie author of Peter Pan . In fact I was told that Tinkerbell was born at Stanway! At the front of Stanway House is a beautiful large bay window made with an old yellow glass. Apparently J M Barrie was inside when he noticed a dot of light prancing across the wall, it was the sun catching on the Golden Cockerel on the church tower and reflecting through the window onto the wall....Tinkerbell was Born ! Some say that this isn't correct but I think it's such a nice story that I want to believe it.
The Limehouse is next to another old building where Richard Podd a stonemason works. Next To Richard is a beautiful mill pond and the old Mill. The Mill has been through many uses including a fulling mill and Saw mill. It has now been restored to being a flour mill and is due to be open to the public this Initially a lovely and very clever man called Christopher Wallis was restoring the mill and wheel but unfortunately died. His Father ,Barnes Wallis was a pioneer in many engineering works as well as the design of the bouncing bomb. Christopher was such a peaceful man and he told me that his father didn't like being remembered for this.His father was grieved at the loss of so many airmen in the Dambusters raid. Barnes Wallis designed geodesic frames for planes, wings and for the frame work of the R100 Vickers airship. Christopher was a very inspiring ,friendly and an interesting man and I'm sorry that he isn't still around and that I can't have more conversations with him.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Art Galleries

My sister sent me a fantastic link

It's brilliant. You can take a 3d tour of worldwide famous museums and each museum has a list of paintings and artifacts that you can zoom right into the paintings and see the cracks. At the Metropolitan Museum, New York there is a painting called the Harvesters by Bruegel. If you zoom right into the landscape in the distance you can find a few people having a swim !..I know very childish ...but I could spend hours looking at all the galleries. When I've visited some galleries I've often wanted to get my paints out and try to copy a style or colour..and now I can.

It's really quite mind boggling what's available now. I went to Bath Academy of Art when it was at Corsham. What a lovely place but there was only one computer...I'm sure the London colleges were way more advanced than we were. I studied Visual communication, which covered Typography..yes using lead type..Book binding...printing, litho , silkscreen ,etching and, colour and black and white printing and developing..and it was only in the 80's not the 1880's I hasten to add. I am glad I learnt all these techniques but it does mean that you are constantly niggled by the letter spacing produced by computers..but I suppose not many people notice any more. My sister probably thinks I should have learnt English, she's always copy reading my writing and correcting it!
Right I'm off for a cuppa, as you can see from the tins on my shelf I have quite a collection ! and yes I painted them to look old and bashed.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Happy Valentines Day

A day early but according to the Pagan calender I'm two days early. On February 15th the celebrations of Lupercalia began,the festival of Faunus the Roman God of agriculture and fertility. It also honoured the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. On this day the men would sacrifice a goat, wear its skin and run around hitting women with small whips!. They also had a holiday on the 14th to honour Juno Fructifer, Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses and the Goddess of Marriage.

The name Valentine may have come from this story.During the reign of Claudius 11 Valentine went against the Emperor and secretly performed wedding ceremonies. He was put to death on February 14th.

I also wondered why a heart is heart shaped. The most interesting story that I found was that the seeds of the now extinct silphium plant had heart shaped seeds. The plant was widely used in ancient times as a herbal contraceptive. The design is used in many european folk art such as n traditional narrow boats rudders and sliding cabin hatches, Farm carts, playing cards, Welsh love spoons, tattoos...the list is endless. Funnily enough it's not a design that's used on Gypsy wagons, at least I've not seen any. If you take a look at you will find aerial photographs of heart shaped things.

The picture on the left is a set of money box stools that I painted in canal style. The other is a hole in some corrugated sheeting that I saw while out on a walk.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Fabulous Prefabs !

I've been looking into the possibility of having a shed/gardenroom built in my garden. My neighbour told me that originally there were prefabs at the bottom of our gardens separated by a stream. These houses were removed once more houses were built and the space was added onto our gardens. I've been trying to find more local information and photographs but no luck so far. I really like the idea of rebuilding a prefab and kitting it out in 1940's style. It would make a great little museum, mind you I'd probably prefer living in that than my house!
A short Rhyme by Charlie Chester ;
'Down in the jungle'
Living in a tent:
Better than a prefab,
No rent!

Prefabs were originally built as temporary accommodation for post war families. Many people loved them because they had a garden, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. There were many different designs including The Portal, Arcon, Uni-Secco, Tarran and Airoh.The photograph is of one in St Fagans Museum, Cardiff...a really brilliant place to go. remember passing an estate of prefabs near Hatherley, Cheltenham when I was little and loving them then. If I remember correctly I believe there was an allotment area on the other side of the concrete road I must pop over and see if they are still there. . Many are being demolished but in South London there are some being given Grade 11 listing on the Catford Estate. These were built by German and Italian prisoners of war.

I'm torn between a shed in a 30's style or a rustic one with a turf roof. The sketch is a building I saw in the Skansen Museum, Sweden. I also have a love of corrugated iron, My Mum would probably say I can blame your Dad for liking corrugated iron. There used to be a lot of sheds and house extensions made of it ! Those great black Nissen Huts.they are good too...blimey what a choice....well whatever I decide it will be great to have a bigger shed by the end of the year.

A gypsy Wagon and the Kent WI

In January the local church had a book sale with lots of books lining the pews. I hadn't realised so only got there in it's last few days. I still managed to leave with a pile of books, I just can't resist them. One of them was called 'For Home and Country' WI magazines 1919 to 1959, compiled by Penny Kitchen. One article was great and I've used a picture from it which I hope is allowed.
In 1921 The 'East Kent Caravan Exhibition ' took to the road. Two ladies travelled for seven weeks touring the smaller hamlets and villages of East Kent. A night was spent at each Institute and an exhibition was held showing needlework, fur craft, toy making and booklets. Villagers were admitted into the vardo at 6d a head. A horse and man was supplied by each Institute to take the caravan onto it's next venue. Although it was successful, it was decided that ' it was too unwieldy and slow, especially where long distances and hills were concerned !.
I wonder if anyone has though of recreating the journey, I'd love to do it but I don't imagine for any moment that there would be a man and horse available in each village !
I think the wagon in the photograph is a Dunton Reading, but the mollycroft ( the raised central roof with small windows along it ) looks more basic than the norm, so I could be wrong. In 1889 Dunton & Sons were Coach and Wheelwrights working from Crane Wharf, Kings Road, Reading. Dunton Reading wagons were approximately 12' from ground to the roof,the rear wheel were 5' in diameter and the front 3'6. It's funny to think that the wagon in the picture would have been almost new at the time.If anyone out there knows of any more information about the WI and the wagon tour I'd love to hear from you.
I have a shop on Etsy selling postcards of my paintings showing Gypsy scenes


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