SUMMER GREETINGS, Friends! Here in the left foot of England there is gold dust on the warm air, and the verges hum in the delight of sunshine and Good Things. Since last weekend's tremendous fair, I have been in my burrow painting like billio for today's deadline, and my fingertips are still golden from the gold wax I have been applying over the oil paint. I shall show you these works in good time, but for now, the Weird and Wonderful Weekend...
I made it in good fettle to Suffolk after that penniless episode, a fair bit of chaotic sign making at my parents' house en route, and an early morning clock-collection in Long Melford.
And there followed a wild weekend of non-stop talking and meetings of lovely people left, right and centre! My till was ker-chinging non-stop too, I am happy to report! And so I came away bulging-pocketed and grinning!
I was delighted to meet some lovely readers of this here web-log in the flesh, though I probably appeared rather manic and spinning-of-eye, if so - I apologise! My lovely friend Poppy and her whole Snippetygiblet family came all the way up from Colchester on the train to the fair. Anna who came to say a hello, bought a print of my The Bells, and has since written a delightful little tale inspired by it. Aaron Main presented me with a wonderful hand forged iron candle holder as a thank you gift for my ramblings, which was a very lovely thing indeed; and I was touched to hear from a man who came to tell me he'd been moved to tears by my work, and was so choked as to have to leave the barn! - These are things far more valuable than all the pennies made! I saw many other friends too, old and new. The sun shone outside, but I barely had a glimpse of it during the days for all the selling and chatting!
This year I made my display in the medieval barn, a beautiful building where many talented crafts people set up their stalls. There were basket makers, pole-lathes, musical instrument makers, furniture, sculpture ... and outside in the grounds yet more wonders, far too numerous to list here!
Here you can see my wares adorning the little stage at one end of the barn. My display was a hotch-potch of bits of old furniture - wooden window frames, old book cases, bed ends, picked up at a local recycling centre here; and slices of logs (clocks-to-be), oil lamps and twig trellis, ivy and linen. I even brought my home made lamp and rocking chair, in which I sat grandmother-like and thought up tales...
From my perch I had a wonderful view of proceedings, and grinned at passing musicians .. these two Weird & Wonderful regulars playing foot-stomping heart-twisting gypsy music all around the fair:
And I sold an original painting too! Martin and Michelle had had a postcard of my Picking Up Sticks on their wall for several years, found apparently in Cambridge (but heaven knows how it got there!) .. and so they were delighted to find the actual painting, and bought it there and then! I always feel a pang when originals sell, and I leapt to take a last photo before it went on to live on a new wall.
And they took a photo of me with it too, with my name above my head and the grin that I have been wearing a lot lately!!
Weird & Wonderful Wood, I have decided, is my favourite of all the festivals and fairs yet! It is organised by the tremendous Tarby Davenport, who somehow manages to conjure the right sort of magic. This fair is a perfect mix of wonderful crafts, wood in all its guises, without exception lovely people, just the right amount of vagabonds, and realness, peaceful and good :)
On the Saturday evening I was invited to share fire, food and friendship with a lovely family of wagon-painters, Ash & Sarah and their two young'uns Tilly and Lewis. They were there with one of their beautifully restored gypsy vardos. Ash is a signwriter and restores and repaints these wonderful wagons, whilst Sarah is the gilder, gold-leafing all the scrollwork and flourishes. They plan to make a museum of these wheeled wonders in East Anglia, the seeds of which can be glimpsed here at Wagon Time. Young Tilly even has a wagon of her own (of which I am decidedly jealous, actually), made by her father, and from it she sells Matilda Bishop's Scrumyumptious Sweets - in jars, of course, with her name on.
We had the most delightful evening of food and wine and accordion-playing by the fire, with tales shared through the woodsmoke. It was, in fact, almost too romantic a scene... look... you couldn't make it up, could you?!
who camped with his family in that lovely smoking scout tent above)
And so I returned eventually to the West, heart-full and pocket-heavy, delighting in the open road, finally relaxing into driving again after so long, and singing within at the sight of the little green lanes winding over hills towards my village, and at the yellow yellow fields beside...