TUCKED AWAY behind a crumble-down barn, with a logpile, a rusted wheeled farm machine and newly budding trees for neighbours we look out of our back door at rabbit-holed fields and treetops beyond and smile because we are somewhere new. Our long delayed next leg eventually took us winding up from Kent, above the busyness that ebbs out around London and into East Anglia where we are parked in a field on a farm just on the north edge of Essex. It is owned by kind Sarah and her family who offered a spot on their land, after she stumbled here on a blog wander. It is delightful to walk amongst trees again and step between stinging nettles. How lovely of Sarah to invite us to enjoy a corner of this land, and it means we will not be approached by council men while I prepare for my exhibition which is just a few towns and only two weeks away from here!
If you climb down the steps at our back door and hop down the grassy hill and beyond into the woods, at the bottom of a slope there at the edge of a lake stands a tree. Its insides are black and scaly as a devil's armpit, perhaps it was struck by lightning like is striking above us now. As I write the inky sky sends cloud-wolves howling and rain beats down on our little wheeled house.
I have begun a new painting to hang in the exhibition on a slice of wood ferreted out in a charity shop by my mum. I have been working hard, and it is great to be able to wallow in my own ideas for imagery. Normally if you were to ask me at this early stage of a piece of work what I thought of it, the most positive response you'd receive would be a tentative hmmm.., but this time I am really pleased with it! It's rather a Rima-ish sort of thing sporting as it does bent people, earthen greens and reds, a Bulgarian Gaida Bagpipe, and a touch of melancholy...
Today if you had wandered down to the blackened tree by the lake you would have found me there painting up in the tree house that was started a few years ago by Sarah's boy. I scrambled up and sat high and hidden, looking out over the water as a lone swan floated past and back again giving me sideways glances. I sat there until the evening began and goosebumps came and Tui brought me red wine and pickled onions.
These next few weeks will be busy with preparing of the exhibition which will take place at the Imagine Gallery in Long Melford, Suffolk. You can see I have put the advert for A Gathering over there on the right. You might recognise a certain crow of mine. It runs from 26th April until 10th May. The exhibition will include five other artists and I must say what a delightfully enthusiastic gallery curator John Foley is. Galleries have never brought me much success in the past; instead I think the more hand made immediate way of selling work has so far served me well, and perhaps I went to the wrong sorts of galleries. But this time I will be exhibiting amongst some other wonderful earth-flavoured work and the whole thing is being put together by someone who is genuinely delighted by what I do, which is both humbling and encouraging. I have the endlessly talented illustrator and tale-teller Jackie Morris to thank for connecting us.
So.. on with frantic framing and painting of pictures, and in between, explorations of this greening corner of England which is our home for these next few weeks...
PS - do click on that last photo to enlarge.. I am in the tree!!