I see in my last post I said was coming out of hibernation but that was a bit premature as we entered more months of lockdown. Now two vaccination shots and a lot of Winter later life is gradually taking on a semblance of normality though still very different from before Covid. Stuff I planted in my garden last year survived the unusual cold (for South England) in February, an April that had morning frosts nearly every day, plenty of sun but cold winds and no rain at all for the whole month. Everything was late and now after lots of rain everything is making up for lost time and is growing like mad. My front garden is like a jungle and and as I went in to do deadheading I joked ‘If I’m not back in half an hour send in a search party.’
Although my summer has been very productive outside my studio has been like a foreign country. I think this was partly due to the stress of dealing with the challenges lockdown threw up which led to the creation of a vegetable garden. I now have time to draw breath and I forced myself to get going again. I always find it hard to start creative work when I have been away from it so I start with getting my work space sorted out, and believe me. it needed sorting out.
This painting oils called SEA KALE on 70x70cm box canvas has been hanging around in various stages for about three years and as I don’t like not finishing work today I got on with it. It could be finished but you never know!
My daughter has a tattoo studio called Love The Rock Studio with a small gallery on the ground floor. She organised an exhibition entitled “The Heart” of it”. A plaster heart was sent out to all entrants with a return label and a brief to decorate or alter it in any way they chose and return it to the gallery. The resulting exhibition is a wonderful kaleidoscope of talent and here are some examples. the exhibition can be viewed in its entirety at instagram.com/sltr_the_heart_of_it/(opens in a new tab)
Will Skakespeare penned these words long ago but during this lockdown they have proved very up to date. I found myself crowded out of my online supermarket shopping facility. Everyone else piled in and there were no slots left for me. I don’t drive and my husband is in the very vulnerable category so had to look for alternatives. My cupbord was well stocked with most dry goods but fresh green produce was as probem as even the companies delivering veg boxes were inundated.
So, what to do? My solution was to order a raised bed kit and vegetable seeds which were also in short supply. When the seeds came I started them on the window sill and waited for the bed and compost to arrive.
This post is a diary of my gardening adventure.
Eventually my raised bed and compost arrived, and it was filled lettuce plants kindly donated by a neighbour.
As the weather warmed I planted out the things on my window sill which were in danger of taking over the kitchen. I also used up every large pot I had.
The rocket and rainbow swiss chard in the old fish box began to grow and the bed started to look quite green. I invested in a netted cover for the bed to keep off of our resident wood pigeons with the added benefit that it also kept the local cats off what would be a desirable poo patch.
The bed was so successful in providing us with salad greens and as it seemed lockdown was going to be a long job I ordered two more raised beds.
So now there were three and to even things up I ordered a fourth to make a nice potager as well as planting a small purple artichoke in a pot against the wall and moving my bay tree into the centre of the beds.
I could go on but I don’t want to bore you further. I am very pleased but have to report that the weather is foul now with several days of wind but the greens seem to be surviving.This little escapde has provived us with fresh greens, peas, beans and some squash. I look forward to the autumn and winter greens I am planning to plant.
Several years ago I set out to do a series of small gouache paintings recording some childhood memories. Tomorrow is 75 years since VE day and one of the paintings depicts a vivid memory of the celebratory bonfire on our street complete with an improptu Bitannia with dustbin lid shield and toasting fork trident. Bonfires were not allowed during the war years so as a just turned five child it was magic.
We lived in an end of terrace house and one of the two communal air raid shelters was againt the end wall so it was literally next door. The shelter had a dog legged entrance to stop any light escaping and making us a target for bombers. When the siren sounded an ARP warden stood by the door with a doward facing dim torch and helped people in. For some reason I was frightened of this man and I vividly remember him shouting to a man running full tilt across the cobbles in the street, “Hurry up! The Jerrys are coming.” I had no idea who ‘the Jerrys’ were and no real concept of the danger we were in but the panicked atmosphere coming off the adults communicated real menace.
The shelter had wooden benches running along both sides and was dimly lit by a single light bulb suspended from the ceiling. We sat by the entrance and our neighbour, Mrs Freeman who lived across the Terrace, sat on the opposite bench with her faithful little companion dog, Judy. I remember my Mum muttering that she was not supposed to bring a dog into the shelter but I as very glad she was there as she held my attention while the antiaircraft gun pounded away from the nearby Park.
We had a small canary finch cross which sat in a cage hung in the window of our kitchen living room. I didn’t know much about the bird except that because it wasn’t a pure canary it didn’t sing, Sadly we returned from the shelter one night to find poor Joey dead in the bottom of his cage. Perhaps all the crashing and banging was too much for him or he was just an old bird. The other possibility was that gas got to him. We all had gas masks and I remember mine having a Mickey Mouse shape.
There was no street lighting because of the blackout but one night I stood in the back yard with my Grandad who pointed out strange lights beaming upwards.To me these were just pretty lights but I now know they were searchlights trying to spot enemy planes in order to shoot them down.
I really meant to post more on this blog but somehow what with trying to source groceries online, worrying about my very vulnerable spouse, getting a raised bed up and running for the first and time tidying the rest of the garden after a very wet winter I didn’t manage to get anything finished in my studio. It has been a difficult time for everybody but for me at last I have managed to clear the back log and got into my studio to finish off this triptych started in response to the Australian fires which seem a long time ago now.
Who would have thought the humble toilet roll could become such a soughtt after item, there must be vaults of them carefully guarded in the royal mint. My husband has the lung condition COPD as well as being over 80 (I’m getting there soon) so we come into the most vulnerable category during this corona virus crisis which means weeks and weeks of lockdown for us.
We are lucky to have a garden back and front and I have my beloved studio so It won’t be too bad. Because its now almost impossible to get a delivery slot from my long standing supermarket I have sent for a raised bed kit to grow some greens to stop us getting scurvy during this long voyage. I have decided to be kinder to my neglected blog and post more often so will be reporting on armies of slugs eating my produce, cat invasions,( there are bound to be some of those as my neighbours felines will find the newly filed bed put these especially for their use) and with luck, some food.
There will be new work from the studio and things to make you smile, I hope. We can get through this!
The other day I took out a plastic container with pigment in but was alarmed by my finger going through the plastic lid which had denatured and turned brittle. I soon found that all the others were the same so ordered some lovely glass jars from a company called EcoRefill seen on line. This new little company also delivers dry goods as well as glass containers and even reuses the packaging which is sent back to them. I will be buying more of these containers which come in a variety of sizes. I will be ordering some of my dry groceries from them too which will reduce the amount of plastic packaging going into my rubbish bin.
On a whim this morning I decided to sand and repaint a little side table I use every day. It was in need of a quick freshen up as it had began to look like something Paddington bear has been using. Easy little job, just sand it, clean it off then apply a fresh coat of chalk paint. Obstacle number 1 the chalk paint has gone hard. Having got the bit between my teeth I decided to use emulsion. Obstacle number 2, enter the large tin that has not been opened for couple of years. Then ensued a battle that many of you DIYers out there will be familiar with, getting the tin open. Having tried unsuccessfully for 15 minutes to prize it off I resorted to giving it a gentle bash on the floor which I did with caution as in the past I have had the lid come off and the tin vomit its content all over the floor. Still no movement.
As an artist I often have to deal with stuck lids and a quick emersion in hot water usually works so I decided to try this. I boiled water lay the tin in the sink on its side and poured the water round the rim then I turned the tin Poured more hot water over it upright and began to prize the lid off. The tin had a more spectacular show in mind and explosively blew the lid off sending it across the kitchen splashing the paint collected in the rim all over me, the floor, my hob and units. Jackson would have been delighted!
Today I’ve added one or two more collaged bit of paper and covered the picture with a a glaze of Indian Yellow which gives it a more orange appearance and unifies it as a whole. I think its finished though I may add one or two thinner lines in the background but at the moment I am leaning towards leaving it as it is. This not a very good photo as its too wet and windy to take a canvas outside to photograph.