Chelsea and The Royal Academy

Where to start with an update on my activities…!?

The Chelsea Flower Show:  the annual trek to London for the 3rd week in May. This is 7 days away, starting with packing my pictures into the car, throwing clothes for every weather condition into the suitcase and organising pots and plants to decorate the stand. I pushed the boat out and painted the stand a gorgeous shade of green to set off all the new embroideries.

The weather, gardens and sales were excellent this year. I saw new and established collectors of my work each day. The wonderful part of Chelsea is the enthusiastic and well informed visitors from all around the word. It was my 25th time and continues to be the highlight of my exhibiting year.

The week ended on a real high, I got an email from the Royal Academy telling me my submission had been accepted into The RA Summer Exhibition!

I was delighted to be part of this prestigious event and headed back down to London for Varnishing Day on June 4th.  Traditionally a day for artists to varnish or add the finishing touch to their artwork. We all gathered in the courtyard of Burlington House with a steel band to create the atmosphere. All the artists first walk down Piccadilly to St. James Church for the Service for Artists and then back to the Academy for a Reception. It was a terrific day, so wonderful to see my picture hanging up in the same exhibition as David Hockey and Grayson Perry with a glass of bubbly in my hand!

And the icing on the cake…it sold on the first preview day!

Next in the diary was my Open Studios event, this was the 18th year and is still going strong. A big push to get the garden looking its best as visitors seem to enjoy that as much as the embroideries! We had great weather which is not the norm for those 2 weekends in June! Lots of visitors, lots of friends and some people who had come a long way to see me. The lady from Southampton wins the prize for the longest distance travelled!

We had a lovely trip down to Cornwall for a few days, it was a great break between the 2 weekends of Open Studios, designed to stop me working straight through! We spent one day in Padstow enjoying a fab lunch in the Rick Stein Bistro, a day in Falmouth and another walking across to St Michaels Mount in the sunshine.

We are into April…finally Spring!

Too busy to write a blog is a poor excuse but it has been a very full diary for me these past 2 months! I have had lots of studio time, teaching, planning and travelling.

I have my flights booked for Australia and New Zealand for this November, I am excited to be going again, this is my 6th year in a row! I will be in Sydney to teach, lecture and exhibit my embroideries at NSW Embroiderers Headquarters. Also  Melbourne and Hastings, NZ. teaching a range of courses. Full details on my courses/Australia page.

The big event recently was my 17 day trip to Japan. It was a holiday, not work, which made a change. I had time to soak up the culture ancient and modern

It was a terrific experience in a fascinating country. We stayed in 5 different locations and saw some wonderful sights. We coincided with the cherry blossom time which made the first week very special. Starting the trip with a few days in Tokyo visiting temples, shrines and so many beautiful gardens was a great introduction to Japan.

From there we took a day trip to see the Snow Monkeys in Nagano. They are wonderful to see in their family groups.

Our next destination was Hakone for some gorgeous scenery and an amazing sculpture park. Another train journey took us on to stay with a lovely Japanese family in Kyoto, a beautiful experience in a fascinating city and finally Osaka with its neon city lights and great street food.

We got to see Mount Fuji too!


I took many photographs on the trip and I am very excited to create some cherry blossom embroideries. If I hurry up I may have one in time for Chelsea.

The embroidery I submitted to the RA Summer Exhibition has got through to the next stage so it will be going down to London on May 10th to go in front of the Judges. A way to go yet but I have got further than last year. Wish me luck!

One of my embroideries (“Amongst the Linseed”, see previous blog post) has been bought by Diana Springall to be included in her extensive collection. http://www.dianaspringallcollection.co.uk/ Lovely to be in in such esteemed company.

Work continues at speed for Chelsea Flower Show with only 5 weeks to go, trying not to panic. A new colour scheme this year so the paint brushes will be out to give new life to my sale counter! I hope to see you there!

So On to New Zealand

This is the second blog of my Aussie/NZ trip.

I spent a great week in Port Macquarie NSW. teaching 2 courses, “Seascapes” and “Up Close and Personal” with Jenny at Stitched ‘n’ Framed. A lovely well lit, spacious workshop room above the colourful fully stocked patchwork and quilting shop. Some students signed up for both courses and really built on their silk and thread painting skills. The work is on the students work page, please take a look!

I had a couple of days off between teaching and explored the area visiting the Koala hospital, a winery or 2, Coffs Harbour, Urunga, Crescent Head and the beautiful Bellingen Valley (Thank you Diane for that recommendation! ) its a beautiful area and I loved the coastline too. 

So after 4 weeks and 5 courses it was time to say goodbye to Australia and be very grateful for such great experiences yet again. Thank you everyone who made it so special, see you next year!

The next stage of my trip was to fly to New Zealand. Driving out of Auckland I could see the difference in the colours of the landscape immediately, lush bright greens and a more European feel to the scenery. Absolutely beautiful.

We travelled north to stay in the Bay of Islands for a few days. A wonderfully inspiring area, so lots of photography opportunities and a wealth of ideas for new embroideries. We found waterfalls and an amazing coastline with dramatic surf and empty beaches. We were fortunate with the weather too and had sunny days to explore a lot of the area.

The highlight of the week was a helicopter ride from Paihia out to the Hole in the Rock, one of the 144 islands, which has a distinctive hole in it large enough for boats to go through. It was a stunning visual treat and landing on the Rock was exhilarating. We had the chance to walk into the bush on the top to experience the lush vegetation first hand. It was a fantastic experience, memories are made of this!

It was soon time to get back to work so that meant heading south to Hastings for the weekend and meeting up with Georgina Campbell and her lovely family. We had a “Flowers and Foliage” course organised and 16 eager students to meet! It all ran smoothly and we had a lot of fun, what a great weekend. For my first teaching experience in NZ I couldn’t have asked for more.

Napier is a charming town near Hastings, it has lots of Art Deco architecture, outdoor cafes, a long promenade and pier and was a delightful place to visit on my day off.

The final stay in NZ was in Wellington, in Lyall Bay, south of the city, morning walks on the beach and an easy bus ride into the centre of Wellington meant we had the best of both worlds. We enjoyed the Cable Car and Botanical Gardens, exploring the beaches and seeing 2 blue penguins!

Finally it was time to leave NZ and head home. A stop over in Hong Kong was great fun. It’s a busy frenetic city with lots to see. We experienced excellent food in bustling street markets, a trip up to the Peak for the incredible views and a ride on the Star Ferry over to Kowloon to see all the city lit up with Christmas lights.

I arrived home to face the biggest snow fall for years. Minus 16 degrees in parts of Shropshire, what a shock to the system! However it’s great to be home, to see friends and family and plan a quiet Christmas. That’s enough excitement for me…well until next year!

Australian Adventures

This is the first of 2 blog posts, for this, my 5th trip to Australia. I have completed the first leg of the journey with my stay in WA. 3 courses taught so far, lots of lovely enthusiastic ladies eager to learn. Much to my delight some familiar faces from my previous trip had signed up for another course, some travelling from out of state to join me in Perth. This has been the busiest spell out of the 6 weeks, with 7 days teaching in 10 days. ( No sympathy needed but it was full on!) The weather has been over 30 degrees each day since I arrived, a sharp contrast to the weather I left behind in the UK. I have been fed and watered very well in each place I have stayed. Great hosts, thank you! It’s a bonding experience organising courses and the logistics so a glass or two of wine in the evening is a great way to ponder on the successes of the day! The students work is posted on the website and I am thrilled with the standard of work. A team effort on each occasion as the students listen attentively and work hard on their projects to achieve such great results.

Here is a piece by Jill, a student on the “Up Close and Personal” course in Margaret River.

Wendy demonstrates the sound proofed folding doors between the 2 classrooms on the top floor, making it into 1 large room.

While in Sydney I was invited to the headquarters of the Embroiderers’ Guild NSW to see the rebuild. I had an exciting tour with President Wendy Schmid as the building was being signed off by the architect and building inspectors. Wow! What an amazing custom built space. Several beautifully lit workshop rooms. A library and archive room. 4 gallery spaces, meeting rooms and shop. Over 3 floors this new place is fabulous. The details are lovely, especially the cross stitch inspired patterns of the tiles!

I am currently enjoying a few days in the Blue Mountains. The scenery and gardens are wonderful and I am feeling inspired for some new work when I get back in my studio.

Next stage is to drive on to Port Macquarie for my next couple of courses.

Heading Down Under!

I am about to leave on my 5th trip to Australia. It has become an autumn ritual for me heading ‘down under’ to teach a range of courses just as the temperature drops here in the UK! Great timing!

My bags are packed with clothes, embroidery samples, threads, course notes and hopefully everything else I will need for the 6 week trip. I start in Perth and after a couple of days to recover from the flight I will teach ‘Colourful Landscapes’

I then move down to Margaret River for the second course, which is called ‘Up Close and Personal’, the detailed study of flowers.

I head north again back to Perth for the third course ‘Sunlight and Shadows’ looking at broad tonal ranges in the landscape. It is a varied range of courses to start the trip.

So after 2 weeks in WA I fly to Sydney and from there will spend a few days in the Blue Mountains. A well earned rest to recharge my batteries I think!

My final destination in Australia is Port Macquarie, on the coast north of Sydney, I will teach 2 more courses at Stitched n Framed, ‘Seascapes’ and ‘Up Close and Personal’ for the second time.

 

The final leg of the journey, and a new experience for me is New Zealand. I will be on North Island for 2 weeks. Starting in the Bay of Islands then on to Hastings for my final course ‘Flowers and Foliage’ and finally a few days in Wellington. Phew!

Quite an adventure to look forward to, seeing old friends and hopefully making some new ones too! I plan to post more photos and updates each week.

Open Studios 2017

Every June I open up my studio to the public for 2 weekends as part of the Borderland Visual Arts group Open Studios. I demonstrate and chat to everyone about my work. We welcome visitors to stroll around the garden and look at the photography display by Myk Briggs in the summerhouse. We had mixed weather as usual, persistent rain over the first weekend and a mini heatwave on the second!

We work on the garden to make it look its best and people really enjoy looking around it when they visit us. We had lots of people come to see us, some new faces and some regulars.

We took a trip to Cornwall between the 2 weekends. Visiting The Lost Gardens of Heligan, somewhere I have wanted to visit ever since I saw the show garden inspired by the renovations at the Chelsea Flower Show many years ago.

We ended the day in Mevagissey with a Cornish ice cream and a sit on the harbour wall.

 

Day 2 we enjoyed a great coastal walk near the Godrevy Lighthouse and Seal Bay.

 

Then on to St Ives to the Tate and the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture garden

We fitted in a visit to Wistman Wood on Dartmoor on the way home. It was a wonderful break and reminder of how beautiful our countryside is.

My London trip

I have just got home after a few days in London. It was an opportunity to feed my creativity by visiting lots of galleries and take a break from teaching and my studio work. It was a great mix of exhibitions, theatre, restaurants and a little retail therapy. I was fortunate to be invited to Burberry House to see the lastest catwalk collection from London Fashion Week. Amazing clothes and fabulous fantasy capes inspired by Henry Moore sculptures. Some made out of found objects others sculpted out of metal, wood or leather.

It was great to see the Burberry collection, but the real treat for me was the chance to see sculptures, maquettes, sketches and studio tools giving a great insight into Moores way of working.

Over the few days of the trip I went to the Mall Galleries to see the Pastel Societys Exhibition, Tate Britain for the Hockney and the RA for the America After the Fall  Exhibition, lots of visual treats.  I love to look at other artists work, their techniques,  colour palete, choice of compositions. I am inspired by the brave choices and bold decisions they make and hope it encourages me out of my comfort zone!

On the way home we made a detour for Stanley Spencer. We visited the lovely gallery in Cookham, his home town. The unfinished Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta is on display there and it was like meeting an old friend! On seeing it for the first time in the RA I was fascinated by the unfinished areas as much as the finished sections of the painting. I particularly like  the details on the mop head and the check trousers of the centre figure.

I first saw his work at a retrospective at the RA about 30 years ago and have been a huge admirer of his work ever since. I especially love his eye for colour, pattern and rhythm.

Australian adventures

I really intended to write a blog for each city/location I visited during my trip to Australia this autumn. Each place was rich with sight seeing, great students and good times. You will probably have noticed it didnt happen! So here is my tale of the whole 6 week trip.


End of October I arrived in Canberra, a new place for me to visit. Before I started teaching I had a couple of days to get over the journey spent looking around the surrounding countryside and the downtown area. My hosts were very generous with their time and I enjoyed seeing a lot of the spacious green city. Built around a huge man made lake there are fantastic vistas of the ANZAC Parade with Government House one end and the Australian War Memorial at the other. I love the story about both Melbourne and Sydney wanting to be the Capital as as neither would give in to the other they built Canberra!

I taught 2 courses, “Dramatic Skies” and “Seascapes” so I was there for a week in total. Thank you Leonie and Lorna for taking great care of me.

I moved on to Melbourne next for 2 weekend courses, “Up Close and Personal” and “Textures in Nature”.

My painting demonstration for ” Up Close”

This meant I had 5 days off in between the 2 weekends in such a great city with so much to see and do. Fortunately I coincided with the last few days of the Australian textile artist Annemeike Miens exhibition and the first day of the David Hockney! What a lovely way to spend time off. There was a Banksy exhibition on too so it was a visual feast for me.

Hockney giant landscape

I always meet new students keen to learn my techniques but also several who I have taught before. As the number of my visits increase the friendships grow, we keep in touch and I look forward catching up with them. At the Annemeike Mien exhibition I bumped into 2 women I knew, that’s a strange but lovely situation to be in the other side of the world!

There is a large selection of the work by my Australian students on the website courses page. There were 6 courses in total so a wide range of work and a lot of talent to see.

Sad to leave Melbourne but with more places to go, I flew to Syndey for a few days, staying in Manly and travelling into the CBT on the ferry each day. Its such an iconic sight, as the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge come into view. I hand delivered an embroidery that was bought at the Chelsea Flower Show in May earlier this year. Can’t promise everyone that service but it just worked out I could do that! I enjoyed the Rocks and The Botanical Gardens were fabulous, 2 days were spent there taking photographs, lots of inspiration!

Next venue was Harrington, a 3 hour drive north of Sydney on the coast. 2 more courses here for Jen at Love Patchwork. “Landscapes” and “Flowers and Foliage”. Jen and her friend Cecily had been to Margaret River on my Seascapes course in 2015 so it was really good to meet up with them both again.

View from my teaching room!

I had a wonderful room to teach in, overlooking an estuary and warm sunny weather too. It was a great week, exploring the area and meeting all the neighbours.

The trip ended with a few days in Queensland on Hamilton Island.

Hamilton Island

Sunset over the Marina on Hamilton Island

Time to unwind, sit in the sun and think about what a great experience it all was. I am often asked why I keep returning to Australia. It’s an extraordinary country with warm hearted generous people. I hope my plans for a trip in 2017 work out so I can enjoy even more of the same.

A visit to Gardens by the Bay in Singapore on the way home

Teaching through the summer

The year is flying by and the variety of my activities certainly speed it along!

I am enjoying teaching a few embroidery courses this summer in beautiful locations, Brighton, Dorset and of course at my home studio in Shropshire.

My silk painting of a white poppy in the Chelsea Physic Garden

A range of subject matter as always, to keep me fresh and enthusiastic. Rivers and waterfalls, flowers and reflections in water are the themes. I am inspired again by another trip to the Chelsea Physic Garden where some close ups shots of their colourful borders gave me some great source material for the “Up Close and Personal” course in my Garden Studio this month.

Lots of colour and inspiration from the Chelsea Physic garden

During the course in Brighton I started a waterfall embroidery of the Liffey Falls in Tasmania. It is an amazing place and I have wanted to make an embroidery for some time based on my visit there. The students work from all my summer courses are posted on my students work page

My trip to London was filled with visits to galleries and gardens, it was a great few days break. The RA Summer Exhibition was a wonderful eclectic mix as usual and a return trip to the RA to see the Hockney – 82 Portraits and a Still Life completed the visit in style. Lunch in the National Portrait Gallery gave us great views over London!

Home from Italy… off to Australia

I have just got back from a wonderful week in Italy with my family. We stayed in Reusa, near Fizziano, up in the mountains north of Pisa in a beautiful villa with views to die for. We visited Tellaro on the Italian Rivier and had a day in Florence and Lucca for a culture fix. I was trying to have restful time before my big trip to Australia and with good food, long leisurely lunches, great company and sunshine, I succeeded!

There are only a few days left until I fly to Perth so I am busy gathering everything together for my trip. I have a lot of courses to prepare for and a few clothes to pack too!

I have a few things to do before I go, deliver some pictures to the Willow Gallery in Oswestry and an article to finish for the Swedish Embroidery Magazine.

I am really looking forward to meeting all my students when I get to Australia.  I will be teaching at Fibres West for the first week, then on to Melbourne to teach another course over the weekend.

During my time in Australia I will be exhibiting my embroideries in Melbourne at the Firestation Print Studio Gallery with textile artist Carly Leech. Our work will be on display from October 14th to 24th. I first met Carly at the Tasmanian Craft Fair in 2013, she flew from Melbourne to visit me there. Carly and her friend Sue are the organisers of my course in Melbourne this year and we are planning one for 2016 too!

After teaching in Melbourne for the Embroiderers Guild and then in Deloraine, Tasmania at Elemental Artspace, I will head back to Perth for yet another course! Then down to Margaret River to complete my 6 courses in 6 weeks away. A very busy schedule,  meeting up with some very special friends from my last visit. I plan to post my travel progress on this blog so you can keep track of me!