Category: Travel

Little lighthearted distractions from my usual art musings with travel stories, photographs and places, exhibitions and people that inspire me.

London Foray to see Pierre Bonnard and Tracey Emin

Pierre Bonnard has long been one of my favourite artists.  He was one of the lesser known impressionists, but painted with such sensitivity and understanding of colour.

After a chance meeting with an old school friend, I arranged a trip to London and couldn’t wait for March to come.

I’ve only been  to London a few times before  so I was pretty excited about my trip to the big smoke. Tricia has lived  in London since she left school and  knows it like the back of her hand, so I had the perfect tour guide for my two days away.  With snippets of history, landmarks, the contrast of old and new, the spirit of each neighbourhood  we visited and how it has changed along with some great food experiences and drinks from the top of the gherkin we walked, talked, had a few wines and a few laughs and it was just the best break .

I digress…

I had been following the Bonnard hashtag on instagram avidly and had a feel for the exhibition before I went, but there is nothing that prepares you for a gallery experience where the scale and paintings comes alive. It was also my first visit to Tate Modern and it is huge!!  The Bonnard exhibition filled 13 rooms and of those Room 8 stood out. Containing the work  he made in 1927, several of the artworks had been removed from their frames to give a sense of them just having been finished and the room had a continuity and cohesive feel set against a soft grey backdrop. (all the rooms had been painted to reflect his palette or indeed the colours of his original home).  The bathroom paintings had such a light which bounced around the room and the garden paintings just jumped out at you with their vitality.

I read a great article by Barry Schwabsky which really resonated with me and helped me explain my own painting practice. ‘Standing on the edge of space, painting the feeling which is constantly changing, the painting is never finished and lives on.  Working from memory, capturing fleeting moments and moods his paintings are filled with the rhythm of life. ‘

In contrast to the Bonnard and totally unplanned Tricia suggested we go to see Tracey Emin at The White Cube Gallery.  Using a limited palette with lots of raw canvas left showing and with massive space around each artwork which allowed it to breath with some huge mind blowing sculptures and vast reflective floors, it was an assault on the emotions.  I wouldn’t have expected anything else from her.  I really liked the palette but I think feminine sugary pinks used almost made you think she has come to terms with  what she was working through.

Very abstract and on a scale that was massive, the gestural strokes had a lot of energy through a very cathartic process of love, anger and loss in   ‘A Fortnight of Tears’.

I could write so much more.  I loved my foray to London and hope that Tricia and I keep the friendship going. I can’t wait to go back. It amazing to be able to live in such a beautiful place here  in Bude, but what a gift to be able to go to see such amazing art on such a scale.

A little footnote.  If you go across the millennium bridge be sure to look down . I can guarantee the little painted chewing gum montages will make you smile.


Edinburgh city of delights 

Usually seeking sunshine, we embraced the idea of a city break in winter. Longing to see the Joan Eardley exhibition and after hearing good things we booked a four day break in Edinburgh on a fact finding visit to include all the galleries and art centres.

Edinburgh is an imposing city built over seven hills with a long city centre down the middle. We were incredibly lucky with the weather; sunny crisp days with no wind and white frosty mornings. The dark grey buildings glistened aided by the Christmas lights strewn  across streets and buildings.

There is a ‘wow’ moment around every corner. Whether a large row of Georgian mansions in a crescent, a small park, a beautiful hotel, a cobbled street, a narrow row of  terraced cottages, the steep steps linking lower and upper levels or the ‘closes’ , what we call ‘drangways’ in Cornwall these little covered paths lead to a courtyard or the back of a building.  History has left its  mark and nothing prepares you for the view of Edinburgh castle and Holyrood perched on the steepest of hilltops.

The walk along  Princes street, and onto the cobbled lanes that lead up steeply to the castle is magnificent and gives you views right over the city as buildings rise higher and higher. We were in the old town and found lovely shops and pubs in the grass market area where we also stumbled across greyfriars church with its ancient tombstones . The elephant cafe was a must where J.K Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series .

The new town on the other side is also stunning with the back streets full of gorgeous cafes and pubs. Recommended areas are the West End, Stockbridge, Rose Street and Thistle Street which lie on the back roads of the main New Town. The old town has it’s charm but also feels more touristy.

Not city people, we are always looking for a bit of sanctuary and found this on the Water of Leith, a six mile walk that can be joined at several points along the river. We had been to the modern art galleries and could join it at the bottom of the garden and walk to Dean village and on to Stockbridge where we found a great Scandinavian bakery ,St Peters Yard . From here it was a fifteen minute walk uphill back into the main town. By day three we were  seriously flagging so jumped on a tour bus to see the outer reaches through Leith and by the royal yacht Britannia.

Travel is easy with great buses and the tram system. And from the airport there are dedicated buses that run every 10minutes . Our flight from Exeter was just an hour and on our return having left Edinburgh airport at 11am we were at home with a cup of tea by 1.30 pm. The ease of our trip means we will be going back. There is still so much to see.



I’ve got a loose connection with my bulb


Just before Xmas, I managed a pitstop night over to visit Sarah, an old friend who wasn’t in Bude for long, but in that time we made a great connection.

Now living in Bath when I asked her if she would make one of her seaweed lampshades for me, she said yes but only if I came to visit and collect it in person. It was a perfect time to visit and finish some christmas shopping whilst taking in a bit of Bath.  We slotted back together immediately; we have a similar eye for things, but unlike me,  I’m quietly jealous of her ability to be unaware of time and the general semi organised untidiness which she lives in.

A dolls house strapped to the wall has her mugs in it , old seventies corner cabinets are laiden with her collected treasures, the squashy collapsing chairs and sofas are soften by velvet covers and ticking . Nothing matches but all lives happily together in a mutual tone of cosiness and warmth with the two cats, Moth and Watermill. IT IS Sarah’s ‘Hygge’.

After a whistle stop tour of Baths finest architectural landmarks, we did a spot of shopping, drank the sulphurous waters of Bath from the Kings fountain in the pump room (a little know secret); and picked up some cheeses, salmon and the makings for mulled wine .

She is the queen of make do and mend, shunning consumerism in favour of making everything her own with a twist of creativity and a love of nature. Whilst the mulled wine was brewing we revamped her chandelier. Spraying it grey in a confined space with candles burning on reflection wasn’t a good idea, but hey.. we survived it. We didn’t quite get to completing it with the strings of collected broken shells but it will look fabulous when done.

The conversation never stopped, from kids to men to life, friends and lots of inspired creativity  home ideas . We even made a velvet stole for me to take back. It’s beautiful and totally unique ; just like the darling Sarah.
This is titled ‘I’ve got a loose connection with my bulb’ as it summed us up perfectly over the 24 hours, but was really reference to a temperamental sewing machine while piecing velvet and silk together. Just like me and Sarah.


In need of a brain pause 

Is there such a phrase? But ‘in need of a brain pause’ summed up perfectly my need for some R & R.

It’s been a summer of involvement in lots of local projects as well as making my art and with a house full again, lots of motherly angst over my children as they take risks and face challenges in making their lives.

So when Summer appeared to be over and we were having to turn the lights on in the daytime, I started scouring the net for a quick break away.  After two days, it was booked.  A week in Majorca in four days time.

I did take my paints and loved making some watercolour sketches in the warmth of the mediteranean sun.  With perfect temperatures at day and night, it was incredibly relaxing to stroll around the marina, lie on white sandy beaches and bathe in turquoise seas. Eat local fish and drink local wine with the biggest gin aperitifs ever!

With no car, the week felt like a week and at the end  both ready for home with the added bonus of coming back to October sunshine. (We discovered the week had been glorious here too.. oops).

So with an empty clear head I’m ready to take on the next challenges. Exhibition for next August booked, two commissions, two lovely charity pieces to do in the next month….bring it on. 🙂

Inspiration at Port Eliot Festival 2016

A melting pot of creatives from all walks of life, from the depths of Cornwall to the heights of London, it’s the people as well as the stunning location that make this festival so special.

The sunshine and balmy nights added to the glorious atmosphere with twinkling lights and braziers glowing as the festival go’ers got into the swing of relaxing and enjoying it just for what it is…. fun, smiles, connecting with new faces and meeting old ones; learning something new, discovering crafts and wanting to buy a hundred books after listening to the most interesting conversations and stories in the literary and cook tents.

Fashion, flowers, bubbles, dancing til the wee hours; getting drawn into a mosh pit with  ‘Bo Ningen’ nirvana style; and thank god for the bloody mary ambulance complete with nurses and gin every morning scooting round the campsite:-)