Tag Archives: Wiltshire

Water, Trees and Make Believe

Last week began with two day’s wonderfully frantic, bank holiday bookselling at Sam Read’s Grasmere and ended with a magical walk through ambrosial woodland; complete with red squirrel and iridescent purple beetles (and, less romantically, an evil sheep tick which wasn’t discovered until bath time!). In the middle of the week I took a spur of the moment trip to Bristol to visit my daughter. We decided that we needed a bit of ancient perspective on recent events so we drove to Avebury, always a favourite place since the children were small, to wander around the stones barefoot and invent our own ritual for peace, love and good luck, which involved making a charm out of bits of found wool and flowers to hang in the Clootie Tree. The tree was festooned with ribbons, shoelaces, pieces of string, bells, paper notes and one or two “natural” offerings like ours. There’s a long tradition of this kind of “wishing tree” in British folklore and it is also interesting that the practice is found in some form all over the world. I thought the tree looked beautiful and it felt very serene sitting underneath in the baking Wiltshire sun, while some of the charms jingled and flapped gently in the breeze. It’s a fine aesthetic line though…is it harmless decoration and votive offering or unsightly,non biodegradable litter? I guess it’s down to personal opinion but  I found an interesting point of view on this blog and feel happy that our magic charm won’t cause offence as it was entirely made from found natural objects and has probably blown away by now – I just hope it works and brings us a bit of good luck.

Wiltshire has been part of my life since we lived there for a year when I was about 11 (you can see the funny little etching I made when I lived there in this old post) It’s funny to think that it is now Sara’s “home” and my brother has lived there for over 20 years too.

The Wiltshire landscape is such a contrast to the Lake District, with enormous skies and smooth rolling hills dotted with isolated clumps of trees- sacred groves and mounds- and in my mind it is always summer and we areaways slightly too hot!. Sara and I swam in the river at Lacock again (shoals of tiny fish, fresh water mussels and damsel flies but also a lot of litter and still burning barbecues which breaks my heart) and also treated ourselves toa swim at Bristol Lido ( my birthday present ) which made me very happy. Another version of me- the one with the money and rosy stone villa in Clifton- could quite happily live in Bristol, and spend my days down the allotment growing vegetables, before an evening swim and tapas at the Lido. It’s fun to pretend.

Back in the mountains the rain has returned, which in a way is good because it means I have no distractions from work. I really have got to start thinking about how much work I will need for Art in the Pen next month and how I’m going to display it. Everything needs to fit in to my ancient VWGolf and be easy for me to construct on my own with a dodgy shoulder and those wobbly heirloom ladders I’ve mentioned before. I got myself a credit card reader specially and keep meaning to test it by charging Rupert for his supper but instead I get regular e-mails from iZettle along the lines of ” we notice you haven’t accepted any payments yet…can we help?”- well yes actually, I want to reply, you could buy some artwork thank you very much, just a card would do 😉 If all else fails I’m going to batch bake pizza and cakes to sell to passing walkers; I even have a sticker that says which major credit cards I accept, it’s like playing shops!

Some new prints have emerged including the Fell Pony, which is actually my friend’s pony Rocky, and more owls with various bits of added stitching. My adventures cyanotype continue with no two days or two prints the same. I sometimes get disheartened when I struggle to achieve the same results in each print, as you might if it were Lino printing or etching for example, but I’m slowly forcing myself to accept that the beauty is in the variability and that is what has kept my interest in the process. As part of Cumbria Printmakers I’ll be taking part in an exhibition at The Witham, Barnard Castle, opening on the 22nd June. The exhibition will include lots of information about the techniques used by the group members and the unique way each person works. Cyanotype seems to be very much in vogue at the moment, with some wonderful examples and experimental techniques popping up as I browse Instagram; I really do have to keep reminding myself sternly that it is just a tool that each person will use differently and smack down that doubting voice that keeps telling me others do it “better”.

Now it’s time I went to retrieve the print I left soaking in the bath and try to light the fire because unlike this picture of Castle Crag with velvet fields and blue skies, today is so wet I couldn’t even get out of the door and Rupert has been canoeing with a group on the lake so might need to dry his socks…

Reading: Ernest Journal Issue 6    Listening To: a leaking gutter overflowing into a galvanised watering can ( any music suggestions welcome…)


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