As I write, we have one more week of Lockdown number 2 to go here in the UK as we are still in the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, restrictions did ease a little through the summer and into early autumn and it seems fitting to look back and find things to be grateful for. For most of us, all thoughts of holidays were put on hold, and that meant that my husband and I had time to get my garden studio insulated and painted out, elevating it from a 'summer house' (glorified garden furniture storage space) to a working space for me to use all year round.
As we moved into September we celebrated the autumn equinox by giving thanks for a plentiful harvest; I baked a pear and almond upside-down cake using pears from my dad's tree, we foraged for blackberries in the hedgerows and picked a hop garland to decorate the kitchen. The hedges are bursting with wild fruit and berries this year, either a harbinger of a hard winter to come or a product of a particularly wet spring, depending on your point of view.
My studio is partly overhung by an Oak tree and I spend many an idle moment sat at my workbench watching the squirrels play Chase Me around and around the tree trunk. As the acorns began to come down in a spate of gale-force winds, I watched one industrious little squirrel bury them in the lawn only for a beady-eyed magpie to hop along after him, prise them out of their hidey-holes with his beak and eat them!
The Oak tree gave me the idea for the first 'proper' prints I made in my studio, a linocut inspired by the shapes I saw in the leaves and acorns. I printed the first layer in a lighter colour, then rotated the lino printing plate by 90 degrees, overprinting in a darker colour to give a pleasing impression of depth and shadows.
By the beginning of October we had some glorious misty mornings over the river Wye, and were also lucky enough to get some sunny weather for walking in the Forest of Dean.
I love this time of the year and am at my happiest walking in the woods of my childhood home; as I walked, the idea of new monotype prints formed in my mind. I wanted to evoke the feeling of warmth and contentment these walks brought me as I ambled through the sun-dappled woodland kicking through piles of fallen leaves, surrounded by amber and gold.
I find monotype printing expressive, particularly the textured layers which make the piece come to life. A monotype print is one of a kind, a unique piece of artwork; it is known as the most painterly method among the printmaking techniques and prints are prized because of these distinctive textural qualities.
I'm looking forward to experimenting with winter's colours next, and hope to do a little update in December. For now, I will leave you with this photo of my studio in the first frost of the season.
Thank you for reading, take care and stay safe.
Looking back to New Year's Day when I went on a long winter's walk with some of my family, like most people, we had no inkling of what 2020 would bring. The day was filled with laughter and optimistic plans for holidays and get-togethers, camping trips and barbeques; we had a brilliant day's walking, wearing out excitable dogs and children alike, and made plans for the next big get together of the entire clan for the Annual Family Easter Egg Hunt. The contest was more anticipated than usual this year as my husband and I had recently moved to a new house, and now had a large, very wild garden - perfect for this hotly contested event. However, it was not to be …
When lockdown due to Covid 19 was first implemented I seized the opportunity to tackle the garden, which quickly became my haven; then I started to feel restless and wanted to explore the lanes around my new home. During my walks I began to collect leaves and feathers, weeds and grasses, and started experimenting with printing directly from them. After much trial and error, I felt I was able to make some 'proper' prints which would hopefully convey how I felt during this time, and so the series of prints entitled 'Restricted View' came into being. This is my visual diary of what lockdown meant for me, and although it's a personal journey, I hope the story behind each print will strike a chord with a viewer.
'Show Me Which Way' On the most basic level, this refers to finding a 2 mile circuit around the lanes which formed my exercise routine during lockdown. I asked my husband to show me which way so I could walk a loop rather than a 'there-and-back-again' route.
'Come, Take My Hand' Is the response to the first work. In a way they belong together as there is something much deeper than asking for directions going on here! Apart from finding a physical way to guide me through those long weeks, my husband was also my emotional guide when I became worried about what was happening in the world.
'To Listen At Dawn' One common theme in social media conversations was how loud and vibrant the birdsong was this year. Because there was less traffic on the roads, the quieter environment meant we could hear the birds in all their chirruping glory; one of the joys of living in the countryside means that I can open my bedroom window and enjoy the dawn chorus to the full. This image was inspired by my early morning view towards Windmill Hill.
'As The Crows Fly' Another talking point was how blue the sky was, due to less pollution from both road vehicles and air traffic. One particularly fine day, as the cherries were ripening on the trees in the orchard, the crows arrived to gorge themselves; this is my depiction of the random flapping and squabbling that ensued!
'The Swans Lake' The daily walk passes a little lake, and I was very excited when a pair of swans arrived. I watched them build their huge scruffy nest and waited anxiously for the eggs to hatch. In early May I was rewarded with the sight of 7 little balls of grey fluff following Mum's every move over the water. The lake became my regular stopping-off point from then on, and I wanted to evoke the stillness of this moment in my walk.
'Windmill Hill, Early Morning' This is the view towards the strawberry fields on Windmill Hill from the bedroom window. Normally buzzing with activity I noticed that there was a point during lockdown when it all went quiet as the workers went home and large areas of the tunnels remained uncovered.
'Restricted View' So-called as there were moments when I felt trapped, even though of course I was immensely privileged to be able to step out of my front door and wander through beautiful Herefordshire lanes. There were times when I felt I was going round in circles in more ways than just my 2 mile walk and this is shown by the final circular scribble on top of the print with an oil pastel!
It's mid-August now as I write this, and restrictions are easing somewhat; I hope this is a sign of more positive times to come. For now, I would like to say Thank You for visiting my website, please don't hesitate to contact me if you require any more information and - most important of all - Stay Safe.
All prints are for sale; each is an original one-off at £75.00 each