Tag Archives: William Tillyer

ART with big letters…and some owls.

IMAG2637 It’s been hard not to walk around glowing with pride, wishing I had made a t-shirt with “William Tillyer is my daddy” emblazoned across the front, because last week was the long awaited opening of the exhibition at Mima. It was such a special day with so many wonderful people turning out … lovely to see our small family all together in one place and so many of my parent’s friends from their college days in Middlesbrough in the 50’s ( the artist Peter Hicks and former student, Len Tabner amongst them). The mayor, Ray Mallon gave a moving speech as did another college friend Peter Murray OBE ( Director of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park), it felt like a real celebration. Later in the week we travelled to Gateshead’s beautiful  Sage building, where daddy was interviewed by the lovely Sharuna Sagar as part of Radio 3’s “Free Thinking Festival” …I confess I was nervous; seeing your parent performing in front of a crowd is quite odd, particularly when he is known for being ” The Quiet Man of the art world”, hard to separate “Daddy” from “The Artist”.  He was actually pretty good and I can’t wait to hear it when it’s broadcast on November 14th ( I think).

BX6O4Z8IMAAGVVq Away from the glamour and excitement of the Art World I have been working hard at the cafe thing, attempting to express my frustrated creativity through the medium of cakes and pumpkin lanterns. I’ve been so busy that I still haven’t had a chance to look around the gallery to see the new exhibitions but tomorrow I’m going to leave the scones to their own devices for a moment while I visit the Lake District by way of Peter Leeming and Ruth Fairbrother’s new work in the Gallery Within. IMAG2616 It’s been wonderful to spend some time outdoors today, it’s so important to get muddy hands and breathe in some Autumn air before the working week begins again. I’m still trying to work out a way to gain some balance in my life so that I have a little more time to do my own work. After all, there is a danger that this could become a blog about baking and the joys of cafe life but that’s not why you’re here. My determination was strengthened by a wonderful day last week when a couple came in and bought TWO of my pictures, including this owl… DSCF1466 Days like that compensate for the days when the urge to answer back become almost unbearable…                                                                                                        customer:- ” let me educate you on dairy free baking”                                                 me:- ( in my head) “No thanks, I have a degree in design and have been making cakes since I was 10 so would like you like to please stop being so patronising”     customer:- ” I was going to have a scone but those don’t look very inspiring”          me:- ( in my head) ” They don’t inspire me either but I spent all morning making them and they taste bloody good so bugger off somewhere else if you have to be so rude”. Don’t get me wrong, some days are fun and I’m working on my attitude, honest I am. DSCF1465 So, since I last wrote, a terrible thing has happened which is that Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour is now no longer on Sunday nights ( it’s been moved to lunchtime). A little sign post in the week has been turned around leaving me a bit lost, so I have to report that this time I am writing in silence. I could put on a cd I suppose, but I have to be careful; these things have a habit of transporting you back to a certain time or place and the emotional jolt can be a bit much for “over sensitive” types like me! Instead it is time make a pot of tea and watch some Sunday evening comfort tv. about train journeys in Italy… might even have a biscuit. Have a happy week and thank you so much for all your kind comments on my last couple of posts. 1381832582710


Silk and Violets


Another equinox, another year turning into Autumn and it’s 5 years since I started writing this blog. Posts are few and far between these days but it’s like keeping in touch with old friends…I think about it all the time but life seems to be on fast forward and the day to day gets in the way of finding a quiet moment to write and reflect. Today has been hectic from start to finish but unexpectedly I find myself alone in the kitchen with Guy Garvey on the radio and a mug of coffee drunk much too late in the day.


The woodshed is stacked to the rafters with logs, the freezer creaking with beans and the shelves full of jam. I’m feeling an intense urge to build my winter nest and retreat to it with a pile of books, projects new and half finished. I’m ashamed to say I failed to complete my last commission on time due to “circumstances beyond my control” ( it’s nearly done though ) but the sale of one of my bigger framed pieces at the gallery and a request for greetings card images from an agent has given me a little hope that maybe, just maybe I should give a little more time to my own work.

….pauses to dance around the kitchen to “I’m the King of the Swingers”….


So today has been my lovely Mummy’s birthday which gave me the excuse to make a very pretty cake with violet cream icing. It also meant I got  a sneak preview of the gorgeous silk scarves that she is hand finishing, made for the William Tillyer retrospective at Mima next month


They will be a very limited edition (only 15 of each design ) and I’m getting really excited about it all. This Saturday ( the 28th) sees the opening of his “Haven” exhibition at the North York Moors “Inspired by” Gallery and also a 75th birthday celebration.                                                                                                              Meanwhile the Autumn sun makes rainbows on the peeling plaster walls of the kitchen here on the mountain and it’s almost time to make a pot of chamomile tea to counteract the caffeine.


I don’t want to go to bed, I want to sew and draw and listen to music and harvest more beans but tomorrow threatens to arrive all too soon and I may need my wits about me. Then again, I may leave my wits at home and who knows….perhaps I’ll write a story about this person I met last week…he looks like he has a story.


Listening to :-  “Willow’s Song” Paul Giovanni


Diamond Days in the North York Moors

I’ve been thinking about the importance of landscape recently, how surroundings affect mood, motivation and even character.So, while my latest creations rest, half finished , on the table next to me I thought I’d share a personal love story about the North York Moors. It may seem strange to those of you who know me as someone who lives in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sheep and solitude, but I actually spent the first 14 years of my life in London. Visits to Grandparents in “The North Riding”  were idyllic and now seem tinted with that golden, over exposed hue of 1970’s photographs- Flying box kits on the moor, building dams in the River Esk, gritty picnics on Sandsend beach and jumping out of the car to drink icy water from a moorland spring and to breath in the sharp brackeny air at Goathland after a long , cramped, car journey from the South.

So the landscape kind of seeps into your bones and now, much as I love my trips to the city ,and proudly claim to be a Londoner, North Yorkshire has become a place of deep roots and family history, in the same way as  a tree grows angled by the prevailing wind I am now more more shaped by the North than the South!

This year is the 60th anniversary of the North York Moors National Park and I’m getting quite excited by a new exhibition this Summer that will include works by 5 artists including Joe Cornish, William Tillyer and Len Tabner whose work is all connected by a love of the North York Moors. Obviously ,for me, the work of William Tillyer has almost become my default way of seeing the moors around me, the atmospheric skies in particular, and is one reason why I never attempt to paint landscape!

The exhibition will include a re-issue of “The Furnished Landscape” , a  series of photographs which now document a lost way of life. Who can remember milk stands at the end of each farm lane? Some things don’t change though, the honey scented air when the heather is purple in August, the lichen covered drystone walls,wild garlic and bluebells in the woods in spring, curlews calling mournfully while the lapwings threaten to dive bomb anyone who comes too close to their nest.

Have I tempted you to visit this beautiful part of England? If you came between August 8th and September 16th you could also visit the Dutch House, where I will be having a little exhibition! And better still, my lovely friend Sam runs a fabulous website which gives you just about all the information you might need to plan your escape to the North in your very own North Yorkshire cottage!

So, it’s time to return to the sewing and the sketchbook after losing myself in a little journey around Gods Own Country. After singing its praises so much I think I’d better get my boots “Dubbined” and go for a bit of fresh air tomorrow!

Big Skies and Rounded Hills

Brooch with Lavender filling, hand embroidery and hand painted bird.

I have returned to the wonderful North after a lovely week in the West Country. It was a relief to escape from the massive stress and anger caused by BT failing to mend my phone (and hence internet access) for almost two weeks. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time as I struggled to drum up support for the Meet the Artists/Shelterbox fundraiser. Anyway, after driving for 6 hours in sticky heat yesterday it was semi- orgasmic bliss to run around my damp Yorkshire garden in bare feet, gorging on wild strawberries and breathing in the glorious scent of freesias, lavender and sweet peas!

Caen Hill Locks, Divizes

It feels as though we spent a week in a kind of heat haze. Wiltshire was all big skies, Paul Nash rounded hills, yellow ocre and golden brown, with the sweet dusty smell of straw and ripe corn fields. Craving cool water, we visited Caen Hill Locks where blue dragonflies buzzed about and I mistook a man’s comment that he had “rode all the way from Bath” to mean he had come in a rowing boat…until the kids pointed out he was on a bike.

Indian Mime/Acrobats in the Children’s Field at WOMAD

So, WOMAD festival and Lacock Abbey were  the cultural highlights of our trip;  also,seeing a Red Kite near Avebury was very exciting and reminds me that you are probably only reading this to find out how the owl drawing competition went….!

The Cloisters at Lacock Abbey

The day at Golden Brown Coffee seems ages ago now and I would have written sooner if BT weren’t so hopeless…

Owl drawing in progress.

In the end we received some fantastic support from companies such as Millican and Greene King. People turned up ( !) and seemed to enjoy drawing the owl and having a go at shrink plastic necklace making. There was even a photographer from the local paper prepared to take our mug shots ( I haven’t seen the evidence yet though). I’m afraid I gave my dad a hard task ,picking the winner of the competition, and yes, maybe there should have been a kids and an adults class, but with one voucher donated by a local art shop I couldn’t split the prize…

Mr William Tillyer faces a difficult decision with a smile!

The winner was eventually decided (top left)and the most important bit being that we raised £130 for Shelterbox  . (We saw Shelterbox at WOMAD so it was good to see what actually goes into a box and have a look in the specially designed tents).Thank you to everyone who came, sold or bought raffle tickets or donated prizes.

Now I’m off to breathe in some more garden smells and get the bread out of the oven. x

ps: I’d love it if you would vote for my blog in the Dorset Cereals competition, (there is a button on the right of this page),thank you so much. xxx

“…if pretty little Blue Birds fly…”

Just  a very quick one today. I’m going to be away, hopefully, getting some fresh air and exercise in the Lake District for a few days so I thought I’d extend the GIVEAWAY deadline until Wednesday to give you all more time to leave a comment ( There has been more snow ,a 19th birthday and several small upheavals to contend with so I haven’t given it much thought either).So far, despite record numbers of visitors there have been very few entries. Hmmm, why is this? I do like the giveaway idea as a way of both thanking readers and hopefully spreading the word about my work, however it doesn’t really seem to be as effective for me as it has been for other blogs…

This little Blue Bird has just been listed in my Etsy shop and I finally got confirmation that my sketchbook has arrived and been catalogued at the Brooklyn Art Library and is somewhere on these shelves!

Readers in London may like to know that an exhibition of my Daddy’s amazing watercolours,inspired by balcony views in the South of France, Portugal and Spain, is on until March 26th at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery.

Have a Happy Weekend, and enjoy half term x


Goodness,October! Yesterday there was brief respite from the wind and rain; a perfect Autumn day which I spent stacking logs, thank goodness they weren’t delivered today! The water here is now so horrible , due to the rain, that I’m thinking its probably safer to do what they used to do in the “old days” and drink only beer or maybe whiskey…

So, here are some details of designs which I’d done for New Leaf. As I said, I’d forgotten the amount of detail I’d put into some of these designs and yet again I’m wondering what on earth to do with nearly 200 garment shapes…answers on the back of a postcard please! Actually, maybe I should go looking for a new agent and give the freelance thing another go ???

Well, I really must get some more work done now. I’ve been busy with those t-shirts and I’d promised myself not to start any new things or buy any new materials before I’d got them all done. But I really want to…digital print some fabric, laser cut some brooches, make some baby shoes, write a book, do some drawing, visit some galleries, travel to Italy…guess I’m going to have to start getting up early.

These beautiful flowers are the last survivors from my garden and were a birthday bouquet for my parents. I love the moody colours and the way they go so well with the Tillyer watercolour on the wall behind.

Just time to mention the lovely giveaway over on Katy Howieson’s blog. I’m spreading the word but I reckon its about time I won something, its about time my luck changed. Isn’t it?

Reading: …any suggestions? I’ve nearly finished the book I’ve been reading. Listening to : Rain rain rain rain rain

Waiting For The Sun

I’ve been told that the swallows have returned to the North but so far there’s no sign of them at Witchmountain. I spent all day outside on Friday, wriggling my toes in the earth while taking a break from digging and listening to the solar powered radio…maybe the swallows didn’t like the music?! Anyway, it was good, the sun felt good and I thought…”The sun is gonna keep on shining,Brighter days on the horizon,My love for you will always keep on rising, Everything is gonna be alright…” (well almost which is pretty good for me!).

****************************************************GIVEAWAY TIME!!****************************************************************

I haven’t made anything new but as you can see I still have  these brooches which I ought to have taken to Ripon …but here they are on the lovely vintage piece of cross-stitch I found in a charity shop.I may put them on Etsy instead…or how about I give one away for my birthday on Friday? ( Like Hobbits do I think?) Yes, I will! leave a comment before April 26th and I will pick one at random to win a bear brooch.

Anyway, I’ve been a very lucky girl this week and had an early present when my Daddy turned up with a copy of “William Tillyer ,The Watercolours” all beautiful and with that delicious new book smell! Not so lucky that the chickens have been “helping” in the garden by digging up newly planted things and scattering neatly raked piles of  weeds; hmmm, and all I get by way of an apology is an egg about the same size as a Cadbury’s Mini Egg ( and I mean One egg).