Monday, 30 July 2012

Ravilious and Wiltshire's White Horses- a pop up exhibition

This exhibition was held at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes
David Dawson who runs the Heritage Museum  bought some watercolours that would have featured in a Puffin book in June 2012; the book was thought to have been lost, but was recently found and sold at auction for almost £6000.
 Eric Ravilious  was 'one of the leading artists of the 1930s who captured the essence of the English landscape in his stunning watercolours, he was intruiged by white horses and hill figures'.
The book was never completed because he was sent to work as a war artist and was killed in 1942 aged 39.
I first saw an exhibition of his work in Saffron Walden last year and really liked his approach, so it was exciting to be able to see more of his work reasonably locally.
Here are some of the illustrations which hopefully will be exhibited on another occasion:
 Cerne Abbas Giant 1939
 Westbury White horse 1939
 This might be a Chalk Figure near Weymouth, Osmington Dorset.
 The Wilmington Giant, Sussex
 Train Landscape, with a white horse seen from the window.

This is the Vale of White horse at Uffington.
Almost visible the white horse at Alton Barnes on the way home from Devizes via The Barge Inn at Honey Street.
 The glorious stretch of countryside between Alton Barnes and Avebury
Swans and cygnets along the canal near Devizes.

Friday, 27 July 2012

The middle page of the Brochure for this year's Swindon Open Studios now can be Shown to All

There have been many false starts with people changing their minds about whether they want their phone numbers released or not etc etc. I think this is the final edition of the brochure.
It has gone to print and will be available as a hard copy next Friday the 3rd of August, only 2 days later than we had hoped for when we planned this event.
I can't show the other side of the brochure yet, but can reveal that Ken White's lovely moonlit image is on the front.
I appreciate this is completely illegible, because it is so small but do visit the to see the images and read the artist's statements.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Special Plants Nursery - 4 miles from the M4 Bath turn off

I visited Special Plants on their last opening day in October, the garden was closed that day, but the nursery was open and absolutely glorious.
These are the photos I took that day:
 The shady poly tunnel above.
 Several varieties of Salvias
 Lots of plants for sale.
And a greenhouse stocked with plants needing protection.

I returned to  Special Plants yesterday to see the garden and buy some more plants.
The garden is open from 11am-5pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from March-October, and when you arrive, there is a notice saying garden access through the house.
The house is fabulous and Derry Watkins who runs Special Plants greets you and is ready to identify any of the myriad of plants in the garden. I went out into the garden equipped with a plan of the garden and a list of the plants. I was able to identify one of the Lydiard walled garden's mystery plants as: Morina longifolia
Instead of long shadows seen in the previous photos, yesterdays show the sun high in the sky. It was too hot, but the garden looked marvellous, go and have a look.
 Above Violas and Erigeron in profusion
 These photos give an idea of the sheer density of planting

 And below planting around the pond.
The nursery where you can buy the most amazing range of plants is open 7 days a week11am-4pm.
To find out more about Special Plants have a look at the

Dan Pearson gardening writer in the Observer has written a piece praising this nursery and others on page 44/45 in the colour supplement on the 12th of August. To see the article visit:
Excellent to praise Special Plants nursery before he did so!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Artsite's New Exhibition and the Runner Beans are ready to eat

There's a great exhibition at Artsite opening next Wednesday August 1st at 11am, with a private view at 6.30pm on Saturday 4th of August.
It's about pictures based on song lyrics, what an interesting idea.
The exhibition is being organised by Hannah Moreton who has also set up a blog to let people know more about the artists taking part.
Have a look:
There will also be more information on the Artsite

Two months ago, I took some photographs of my runner bean poles, they looked very neat and tidy, with sweet runner bean plants at their bases. I thought since I am now eating the beans, I'd give an update on the poles, they are not as neat as they were, and the runner bean plants are quite unruly, but delicious.
An update on this post, after 3 days of warm sun, I picked 2lbs of beans today, they are absolutely delicious. It is worth getting things done at the right time.
I am not good at building structures, but am still strangely attracted to building them. A living willow structure at the Westmill Woodland Burial site, was so lovely, I took a photograph with the intention of growing one in the back garden.
Here's the willow structure:
And here's the space I'm clearing in the 'natural' part of the back garden where there will be a willow structure:

For more information on the glorious woodland burial site near Watchfield:

Friday, 20 July 2012

Marlborough Open Studios 2012 - a visit to 2 studios

42 exhibiting artists appeared in the brochure, and the intention was to visit a many of the studios, there were after all 4 weekends to choose from.
I ended up visiting 2 studios on the last afternoon; it is a really good idea from my point of view to find out how other people conduct their open studio event and pick up tips.
Cycling out to the studios seemed like a lovely idea, especially since it wasn't raining.

The first studio we visited was  Bryan Hanlon's at Keeper's Cottage Hodson. Bryan's recent work on show included still lives, landscapes, birds on canvas and life sized sculptures. The work is very professional, the setting idyllic and Bryan was very hospitable and ready to talk about his work, I didn't take any photos, but do visit his studio next year if you can, and meanwhile look at his website:

From there we went to Jeanette Therrien's studio in Ogbourne St. George, it's called 'The Clay and Glass Studio', Grey Gables.
Jeannette shared her studio with Denise Roberts, a ceramicist and Kim Pethbridge, a stone sculptor.
We were warmly welcomed here, offered orange juice and encouraged to join in the chat.
And what did we see?
 Lots of Denise's pottery
And above Jeannette's glassware, and below part of a window in Jeanette's studio.
Jeanette and Denise offer courses and have website showing work in more detail:
To find out more about Kim,
And about MOS in general:
Last but by no means least, on the way home along the old railway track, we came across a group of orchids, they have flourished in the wet conditions, but these are the first I have seen this year:

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Big Arts Day - Swindon's Celebration at Lydiard Park

Lydiard Park is a wonderful setting for the Big Arts Day, and despite the dreary weather, the mood among the crowds of people who attended was good. They were there to enjoy themselves, meet their friends, and join in with the many things to see and do whatever your interests.
Helen Miah, the main organiser of the event can sit back for a while in the knowledge she and her team pulled off another great day of entertainment for Swindon, she did put a message on Facebook saying she had worked something like 90 hours last week.
Roger Ogle's photos are great:
The photos I took are of what I enjoyed, they are not necessarily representative of what was on offer.
Firstly I looked for a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream reputedly in the garden, I'd missed it, but looked round the fabulous walled garden:

Just look at the long borders.
 These 2 plants were so prolific, maybe a type of Clary above and below I'm not sure.

 In front of Lydiard House, there was an informative palaeontologist  with a young dinosaur. The children loved it.
The nearest tent was showing a 20 minute film: A Portrait of Swindon by filmmaker Gurchetan Singh. He sought to 'capture films and rhythms of a day in Swindon in this Jubilee year.' It is a heartwarming celebration of life in Swindon., and is touring public venues over the summer and autumn. To find out more about the film and where to see it, visit:

Jill Carter was taking photos of people on the couch to add to her series of Swindon on the Couch. For more on Jill,

Next to the Craft Tent:

Look at this banner advertising Gina Dunsford's stall.
What an excellent idea

Gina Dunsford and Moon at her lovely stall, details of what was on the stall appear below:
 Porcelain brooches above and porcelain earrings below.

 Above a photo of one of Gina's gorgeous brooches

And hand printed tea towels with that gorgeous pattern repeated, good enough to be framed.
I got a bit carried away with Gina's stall, have a look at her

 Carmen B Norris was also there with fabulous images:

 For more information on
And Rachel Coyle with amazing glass work:
 Gorgeous colours together, unfortunately slightly spoiled by Rachel being in the background.
This photo of a plate is better with other glass pieces around the edges.

At 6.45pm, The Erin Bardwell Collective, great favourites of mine, played in the Acoustic tent:

 As it began to get dark, I cycled off past the coloured horses and foals.
What a good day out.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

A Visit to Buscot Park on a Monday in July and a Folk Festival to Advertise

There is a bit of a stress on the Monday because having told Lesley, a friend who despite living in Swindon for almost 30 years had never visited Buscot Park, that the Burne-Jones Legend of the Briar Rose paintings in the dining room are breathtakingly wonderful, we discovered Buscot House is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Of course it wasn't a discovery, there's a perfectly good handbook, I just hadn't consulted it.
The 2pm opening of the grounds gave us time to have lunch in the nearby 'Trout Inn' on the way to Lechlade, well worth a visit, particularly next weekend, the 21st/22nd of July when there's the 'River Folk Festival 2012' from 12noon till 11pm on Saturday and 12noon till 6pm on Sunday. Free entrance.
I have a water damaged leaflet advertising it:

The gardens at Buscot Park are fabulous and we weren't disappointed in the end that we had the afternoon to enjoy them, and didn't get carried away with Burne-Jones indoors. Here's a sample of what we saw:
 The Peto Water Garden, a similar photo to the one in the handbook, with more water lilies.

It's a bit hard to see, but this is a frog, not a real one, spurting water in the pond at the front of the house near the ha ha.
 And here are 8 of the 17 life-size terracotta warriors from China.
And although this is hard to see, I love the murals painted on the walls and ceiling of the entrance to the swimming pool. There are several more depicting swimmers and a trade union rally, they are hard to photograph because they are now faded.

Lastly, but by no means least, the gardens are marvellous, above here's a long border looking exactly like a long border should do. There's also a Four Seasons Walled Garden and much more.
And here's Lesley half way down the long border.
More information on the website: