If you like interior shops it is certainly worth a visit if you are in South Devon.
Strolling along the length of Fore Street you will find gem after gem of small independent boutiques and galleries.
Artenax stocks a fabulous range of original interior products. The shop is full of contemporary art, designer accessories, textiles, hand-painted lampshades by Sue Holman, furniture, and ceramics.
A little further along Cooks Aweigh sells a range of cookware, homeware, plants and gifts. The shop is deceptively large as it opens out into the back yard and links into a gift and plant room.
Long-established locally owned carpet shop, Carter-Derrick Carpets, specialises in quality wool carpets, natural flooring, and bespoke stair runners. They pride themselves on their courtesy, care, expertise, and on being eco-friendly.
This lovely little shop run by artist Charlotte Fleming stocks a wide selection of prints, stationery, and beautiful decorative products for the home or office.
Who can resist a lovely soft cushion and pastel coloured church candles? This is just a small selection of the gifts and homewares at Ebb and Flo in Topsham.
Nest Living’s window is full of French inspired homewares. Inside you will find many more plus a curated collection of pre-loved clothing.
And for all those artists amongst you a visit to Bargainarts is an absolute must. This store is a treasure trove of artists’ materials, some, as suggested by the name, at bargain prices. What’s not to like!
The new welcome building at Wisley Gardens was opened on June 10th by RHS Director General, Sue Biggs.
I visited a few weeks later when Wisley Gardens hosted one of their Wisley “lates” on the evening of July 26th.
Sadly, the weather was not great on either occasion but it did not spoil my enjoyment and I’m sure it did not deter the crowd that had gathered for the formal opening.
As I arrived early evening the first spots of rain could be felt as I made my way across the beautifully landscaped entrance. Making my way through the avenues of white cherry trees I headed straight for the café to grab a cuppa whilst allowing the rain to pass over.
Here I not only encountered this beautiful airy space with both indoor and outdoor covered seating but I also set eyes on the surrounding retail space.
Divided into various different “rooms” a closer peek was irresistible.
Naturally, Homeware was my first port of call, rapidly followed by the Bookshop which claims to be the largest Horticultural bookshop in this country, possibly in the world.
A vast array of gifts, fragrances, accessories, and original works of art, could also be found in the shop and in the Wisley Gallery.
Once the rain had subsided I ventured into the gardens. Here a string quartet played gently on the lawn to the strangest audience…
Little Girl, Little Girl II, Little Girl III, a sculpture by Lynn Chadwick was just one of the works that made up the exhibition curated by Suzy Bacon which is on display at Wisley Gardens until the end of the year.
Three works by renowned artist Henry Moore were also on display.
The first I encountered was Locking Piece. Gargartuan in size it could not be ignored.
Sheep Piece, was positioned beyond the Glasshouse. Again huge in scale its influence, was apparently, that of a ewe and her lamb.
As I completed the sculpture trail the last Henry Moore work I encountered was Draped Reclining Figure supremely mounted on a stone plinth.
Later works by more contemporary artists were included in the trail but the ones I found most striking were those by Henry Moore.
Walking back to the exit I wandered alongside the lily pond and through the viewing shelter. As I turned I noticed how these tree trunks were framed by its walls and roof and couldn’t help but capture the image.
I’m sure this was no accident but it just struck me how enchanting the gardens at Wisley are and I shall be sure to visit again soon.
Occasionally, very, very, occasionally, when travelling abroad on business I might manage to take some time out to experience the local culture. A trip to Paris earlier this week was indeed one of those very rare occasions when my schedule allowed me sufficient time to wander the streets of this fabulous city. Ooh la la.
I stepped out into the early morning sunshine after alighting the Eurostar at the rather grand Gare du Nord. After a brisk 30 minute walk criss-crossing the city I arrived at the Royal Palace Gardens.
Here I was struck by the perfect symmetry of the avenues of trees. Bereft of leaves or blossom they looked particularly stark against the bright blue sky but perhaps even more regal because of the contrast.
Considered to be the most beautiful gardens in Paris I marvelled at the stunning architecture which enclosed the grounds. These striped black and white cylindrical plinths which rose from the ground like sticks of Brighton rock added a touch of informality to these paved areas.
Striding out towards the river I marvelled at this stunning arch with the horses and chariots atop galloping out into the wild blue yonder.
My next port of call was La Louvre gallery situated on the Right Bank of the Seine. Prior to this visit I had only ever been able to marvel at this magnificent structure from the back seat of a moving vehicle.
The controversial pyramid entrance was part of an overall modernisation that took shape in the mid-1980’s. It’s design was the brainchild of Chinese architect I.M. Pei who was appointed by former French president, François Mitterrand.
The gallery, one of the largest in the world, houses one of the finest collections of art including the infamous Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
She wasn’t the only beauty on display. Another that caught my eye was this portrait by Goya.
Monolithic statues stood on gigantic plinths creating focal points on a grand scale.
It was only as I was leaving the Louvre that I learned that it had been built on the ruins of Louvre Castle which was eventually demolished in stages to make way for the palace.
In and around the immediate vicinity there are a host of coffee shops, bars, restaurants and shops, all vying for the tourists’ trade.
Inside this chocolate coloured facade was a whole host of colourful cookies in beautifully illustrated gift boxes.
This tower of pastel coloured macaroons took the biscuit!
A little further on the competition was selling a selection of freshly baked bread whilst street artists were busy plying their trade.
As the afternoon drew to a close a walk to the bottom of the hill took me past the much talked about Moulin Rouge. Sadly there wasn’t sufficient time to take in a show as my exploration was coming to an end.
An early evening stroll back to the Gard du Nord was all that there was between me and my return train journey home.
Sitting aboard the train it is apparent why this city draws so many visitors. Its colour, scale, spatial planning, and a respect for the past makes it a joy to visit.
It’s not often that I take time out at the weekend but when the opportunity presented itself to me this morning I thought why not? Yes, I had a hundred things planned, and yes I had made a 6am start to work on my current projects but, that said, I thought some time out with my other half might be good for the both of us.
Jumping in the car we headed for the great British seaside at Hastings. This is one of my favourite seaside destinations as I can recall happy memories of family holidays and days out.
Today we bypassed the hustle and bustle and instead wound our away along the coast through St. Leonards and onto Bexhill-on-Sea.
Here we pulled into the car park of the De La Warr Pavilion and promptly paid our dues to stay for no more than two hours.
We immediately headed towards the beach and enjoyed the warm autumn sunshine diluted by the crisp sea breeze. We huddled together in the shelter of a waterside café and ordered hot chocolate and warm cheese scones.
With our appetites sated we wandered along the prom engaging in the atmosphere provided by the independent traders selling their wares from their concrete kiosks.
Needless to say I was drawn to MHRetroFurntiure where we found Martin Hendry purveyor of funky mid-century miscellany. Specialising in brightly coloured cabinets decorated with sassy posters he was a definite favourite.
Our next stop was the pavilion itself where we unwittingly walked into an exhibition of works by Alison Wilding. Entitled “Right Here and Out There” her monolithic creations mimic the container ships on the horizon.
The sunlight streaming in through the gallery windows lit up the sculptures and bounced off their high gloss surfaces and through their translucent shapes.
After a brief tour of the gift shop we walked towards the town centre where a continental market was in full swing. Topped and tailed by the Bexhill motoring club an array of vintage and classic cars caught the eye of inquisitive passers by.
Concluding our brief encounter with Bexhill-on-Sea I have to admit that I had not expected it to have such a prominent autumn art scene nor to embrace such a variety of individual artisans.
Driving home I felt that our visit underlined the importance of getting out and about to see how the rest of the world is performing and to ensure that my work remains fluid and fresh.
I have just enjoyed an immensely cultural end to my week. On Thursday evening I attended the opening of Haidee-Jo Summers’ one-man exhibition at The Russell Gallery in Putney.
Entitled “Capturing the essence and poetry of light” the show encompasses a wide range of Haidee-Jo’s work. Spread over two floors the exhibition runs until March 17, 2018, or on-line at www.haideejo.com.
Haidee-Jo Summers’ catalogue
On Saturday I chose to visit the Lightbox in Woking to view the Turner in Surrey exhibition which ends this coming week.
On entering the Lightbox I was directed to the Main Gallery on the first floor. I chose the staircase rather than the lift as I feel it emphasises the scale and structure of this amazing building.
Staircase to upper levels
The exhibition focuses on Turner’s work in Surrey in the early 19th Century. He lived on the river in Twickeham and enjoyed the delights of the Wey Navigation Canal by boat.
Turner in Surrey
I was particularly interested in his interpretation of landscape views in Richmond and Guildford as I have had the benefit of growing up in the midst of this stunning countryside. I was surprised to learn that Turner purposefully played down the buildings, that might be considered a blot, on these otherwise idyllic images.
Two of my favourite ruins that he did commit to canvas are Newark Priory in Ripley and St. Catherine’s Chapel in Guildford. These landmarks never cease to amaze me, and I guess, must have held a fascination for Turner as well.
This Lightbox exhibition runs until March 4th, 2018, and I would highly recommend it.
Imagine a wild flower meadow on a perfect summer’s day in the heart of the Surrey Hills. Add to this a collection of sculptures by a variety of contemporary artists set amongst the flowers, which in turn are juxtaposed to the slopes of a successful English vineyard.
Sculptures in wild flower meadow
The occasion was a charity event hosted by the owners of High Clandon to raise funds for Cherry Trees, a respite home for disabled children. The day could not have been more perfect to view the sculptures and to taste the exquisite sparkling wine. Crafted from a trio of champagne grapes, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay, and with a maturation of over five years, the end product has won a number of coveted awards.
Amidst the wild flowers stood pastel coloured beehives and ponds covered with water lilies, alive with tadpoles and newts. Many of the sculptures took their inspiration from nature and included the most handsome fox to the classic hare and tortoise.
Pastel coloured beehives
Ordinarily, High Clandon can be visited by appointment only for a tour, talk, and tasting. There is a permanent exhibition of “art of the moment” in the atmospheric Glass Barn and, on a clear day, views from the main terrace take in London and beyond. For more information go to www.highclandon.co.uk
I was up at the crack of dawn this morning to beat the impending rain showers. It’s a busy time in the garden and particularly rushed when trying to make the most of the English weather.
Today’s plan was to clear one of the raised beds in readiness for the runner beans. Having decided that the cutting flower bed was in need of a makeover I decided that a bit of “crop rotation” was in order. Unfortunately, this required clearing the alliums whilst in full bloom, but rather than dig them up and leave them to die, I quickly gathered as many as I could and put them in large vases of water.
I love these flowers, and have several varieties in the allotment. Sad as it may seem I rarely bring them indoors so don’t actually get the benefit of their beauty. I’m hoping by leaving the cut flowers in vases on the garden table I will see them from the kitchen window and the bees will still get the benefit of them.
Haidee-Jo Summer – Alliums & Iris
Inspired by Haidee-Jo Summers‘ paintings of alliums at Gunby Hall I had tried to transplant some earlier in the year so that they would be in pots on the patio. Unfortunately, having left it too late their leaves quickly withered and died before any flowers had a chance to form. I’m not too disheartened though, as now that they are in pots I can look forward to next spring when they should shoot up and fill the patio with a glorious display of purple heads.
Haidee-Jo Summers – Committee checking on the alliums and herbs
In the meantime, the runner beans must take precedent as rain is forecast later, and this can only be a good thing for the garden.
There are many ways of framing and hanging pictures and one method that I particularly like is grouping together similar works and displaying them as a collection. In the photograph below is a group of five watercolours which arrived with me from a number of sources. The common thread is the soft purple/blue colour palette of each painting.
The top two paintings were found in a loft in filthy dirty frames but once removed from their longterm storage these two original watercolours of the Falkland Islands were as good as new, and warranted being mounted and reframed. The painting on the bottom left is a watercolour of a mews. It was gifted to one of the residents after a complete refurbishments in the mid-nineties. It was later given to me as a present. The small print in the middle is a greetings card which is a reproduced watercolour of a viola and was sent to me by a friend. Lastly, the painting on the bottom right is a very old water colour of Shepperton which arrived unframed.
To bring these five paintings together as a cohesive group I chose similar colour mounts for each one prior to framing. The frames vary somewhat but are all fairly plain and therefore sit together quite happily.
To gauge how best to hang them on the wall I firstly laid them out on the floor in an arrangement that I was happy with. Next step was to measure the overall area that would be needed to hang the pictures, and work out how this would be positioned on the wall, taking into account the heights and widths, as well as the wall lamp and radiator.
Layout decided I measured each picture and worked out its relationship with each of the others and positioned the picture hooks accordingly. I was immensely pleased with the end result and felt that grouping the pictures together as a whole was a success.
The current trend of staging pictures on shelves and mantlepieces rather than permanently hanging them on walls is much more relaxed. This appeals to me as it enables collections to be changed and rearranged much more easily and causes a lot less damage to walls. This may well be my next project!
Attending a champagne reception hosted by bespoke furniture maker Silverlining at The National Portrait Gallery in London was an honour. As guest of my business partner you could say it was all in a day’s work but this was a very special occasion. Celebrating 30 years of excellence the event attracted guests from all over the world.
Based in Wrexham Silverlining have built up an extensive client base. Their passion, commitment, and craftsmanship, ensures each and every piece of furniture they produce is of the highest quality and original design. Their name is derived from the metal cores that are used to prevent woods from distorting and from the use of silver hallmarks to date furniture and to identify its maker.A cast-iron sculpture by Antony Gormley viewed the proceedings from a void above whilst 4K images of Silverlining’s intricate patterns were projected onto the walls and ceilings.Guests at this invitation only event had private access to the Picasso Portraits exhibition which runs until February 2017. Over eighty works focus on the artist’s portrayal of family, friends and lovers. These portraits cover all periods of Picasso’s career from his boyhood to his latter years. Some of the works on display are being shown in the UK for the first time.
With my invitation in hand I made my way to The Mall Galleries in SW1 to the opening of the Royal Society of Marine Artists’ annual exhibition in London.Over 400 works of art are on display, ranging from the most fabulous photo montage images, to the most stunning paintings. Bright red sails; children in rock pools; crashing waves; colourful hulls; and lots, lots more seascapes to prolong the feeling of summer.
My particular favourite was The Fisherman’s Hut by Haidee-Jo Summers. Unlike the majority of works on show it depicted an interior setting with a view of the sea through the window. Contemporary in style, with sunflowers in a vase and union jack bunting in the alcove, it really caught my eye.
It would seem I wasn’t its only admirer as it has been awarded the Mall Galleries bookshop greetings card award 2016. As such, it has been reproduced as a greetings card to promote the Royal Society of Marine Artists and is available to buy in the gallery’s bookshop.
President of the RSMA, Elizabeth Smith introduced Elizabeth Meek MBE to officially open the exhibition on Tuesday afternoon. It runs from then until October 8 and is open every day between 10am and 5pm. Painting demonstrations and hands-on workshops tutored by Society Members will be taking place during the exhibition. Full details can be found at www.rsma-web.co.uk