Fresco Finally Finished!!

At last … here it is, ready to be shipped to Rome. Portrait of a lady from a fresco at Herculaneum. The earrings are a rusty bottle opener and a wooden peg from a violin.        (I was asked to add the red arrow, bottom right, the logo of Romaest, the shopping centre to which it is going.)

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Serendipitous Moments

I think this will be my last post about my 4 days in Cornwall – I came back so rested, so full of experiences and ideas that I wanted to document and share it…

Although I went to Cornwall with a list of things I wished to see and do, it was the unplanned surprises and serendipitous moments that brought most joy. I found that people struck up conversations with me (obviously curious about why I was holidaying alone!) which would not have happened if I’d been with John or others. This resulted in many interesting and unexpected conversations with strangers.

In a cafe in St Just, I got talking to an ordinary-looking elderly man who turned out to be  local contemporary painter, sculptor and ceramicist, Ken Spooner. He told me of his upcoming exhibition at Cornwall Contemporary, Penzance and we looked at the gallery website together. Not all of his work appealed to me but I loved the fact that he made whatever he felt inspired to create – like Picasso! Having learned building and plastering from working with his father, it was the materials which directed his work. Over coffee, we discussed the Artist’s need for authenticity, staying true to oneself and how hard it is to work to commission (Ken doesn’t!) When I told him about my desire to move my work forward, he suggested throwing everything on the floor and seeing what comes from it. (Little did he know that my room looks like that every day!!)

When I told Ken about my garden mosaic idea, he told me about The Makers Emporium in St Just (I’d not heard of it.) What a wonderful place – a collective of about 20 local artists producing quality work, including Sue Dove whose embroidery I’ve admired for many years. When I visited the collective, the mosaic artist, Susie Chaikin happened to be on the desk that day. We chatted and she recommended me the best make of mosaic cutting tool.

I also visited Newlyn (Contemporary) Art Gallery (not on my list) and saw the current group exhibition entitled Europe After the Rain, depictions of a dystopian future. I was stunned by a piece by Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay: the sound of an air-raid siren from a war-time loud speaker revealed itself to be the voice of a boy soprano from the Vienna Boys Choir (explained as perhaps a plaintive call from the future.) The perfect pitch of the note and the boy’s breath control was stunning. Different and unexpected. Such moments inspire me and bring me to life!

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Kurt Jackson: Frenchman’s Creek

Part of the reason for my mini-break in Cornwall was a long-held wish to see Kurt Jackson’s gallery in St Just, near Land’s End. His new major exhibition had just opened –  Frenchman’s Creek, inspired by the Daphne Du Maurier novel, set in the creek on the Helford river. The gallery (a renovated old garage) was beautiful and, as always, Jackson’s landscapes were stunning and atmospheric.

However, I found myself most drawn to Jackson’s rough sketches on the pages of an old copy of Du Maurier’s novel. I definitely like art which is spontaneous, quickly made, rougher, a little less than perfect…




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More Sculpture in a Magical Setting

I’m home from Cornwall! Only 4 nights away but it felt like much longer and my head is full of wonderful images and ideas. Just the break I needed.

I visited Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens near Penzance – what an amazing place – a varied selection of works of art in a magical tropical forest setting. The size of the plants was incredible – they obviously love the climate and soil conditions there!

Banana palm – 20 feet tall

I loved the look of rough lumps of granite within the plants (R below – not an ‘official’ sculpture!)

Below: View through the elliptical aperture in the ceiling of Tewlwolow Kernow (Twilight in Cornwall) by James Turrell RA , designed as a space from which to view the stars and sky.







Restless Temple by Penny Saunders was probably the most noticeable and the most impressive work, set high on an open grass field above the cafe. From a distance, it looked as if made of stone, the pillars swaying in the wind. Up close, one could see it was made from wood, attached to a pendulum mechanism below the platform. So clever!

If you’re in Cornwall, (UK) definitely a ‘must see’!!

Minotaur by Tim Shaw RA

Restless Temple by Penny Saunders












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Mosaic Inspiration

I’m in Cornwall for a few days on my own – to rest and recharge my batteries after a stressful time with my Dad’s illness, death and funeral. It’s been lovely to have time to think, read, smell the sea air, swim, and visit some galleries before I return to sorting out Dad’s house and affairs.

Amongst Dad’s belongings are the china/crockery items which were the backdrop to my childhood and embedded in my memory. Almost every single thing is cracked or chipped – typical of my parents to not throw anything away! The china is of no financial value – BUT a rich source of art materials for a project. I plan to make a mosaic sculptural work for our garden, in memory of my Mum and Dad.

I’ve never tried mosaicking before so intend to go on a course in the New Year with Teignmouth mosaic artist Michelle Greenwood-Brown. I’m so excited by this opportunity to try something new, to produce a memorial for my parents and develop our garden, all at the same time…

I have always loved the Gaudi mosaics in Parc Guell, Barcelona and  last year, was introduced to the work of Candace Barhouth at an exhibition in Bath. Wonderful!

Image result for candace bahouth mosaics

Image result for candace bahouth mosaics

Candace Barhouth mosaics


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Inspirational Barbara Hepworth

So – I need to finish the fresco … BUT … I am feeling the need to break free – evolve my work into something different, take risks, do something new …

Last month, while my Dad was ill, I took a day out to visit Barbara Hepworth’s museum and garden in St Ives. Such a magical place – quite small, secluded and hidden away from the crowds on the streets and beaches outside. I found it such an inspiration – Hepworth’s sculptures within secret areas of the garden, divided by paths, lumps of granite, mature shrubs and trees.








Over the past 2 years, my husband John has been redeveloping our garden (about the same size as Hepworth’s) as a project which began as ‘therapy’ while undergoing chemotherapy. I’m not a gardener myself but, in Hepworth’s garden, I saw the huge tropical plants as sculptural elements in themselves, and felt a frisson of excitement about finding/making sculptures for our own garden. A long-term project to develop something exciting together … So I dragged John down to St Ives (on a very busy August day) to have a look. He moaned about the traffic and the crowds but fortunately, once there, agreed it was worth it!!

The annual Devon Open Studios (DOS) started last weekend so we actively looked for sculptural artists. First stop – Nicola Axe, stone carver in Teigngrace. DOS is a wonderful opportunity for artists to go and see the work of other artists, to chat to them, to look ‘out’ rather than ‘in’. I recommend everyone to go to Nicola’s venue. Her exhibition was in the Old School House, now converted into the Teigngrace village hall. With original old wood floors and white walls, it was the perfect exhibition space, not unlike Hepworth’s own museum/gallery in St Ives. Nicola was so enthusiastic about her beautiful work – natural forms like shells and ammonites, and elongated heads, in a style rather like Modigliani. We made a purchase!

The following day, I visited another DOS exhibition – Tony Barclay in Topsham. I love artists who do something unusual or quirky. Tony, a ceramicist by profession, uses parts of reclaimed boats to make seascapes in varying sizes – the wood is charred and (sometimes) paint is added. Lead patches (previously used to mend holes in the old boats) are bent to create small model boats to add to the seascapes. Very original.

An item in the garden (below) caught my eye. It had not yet been priced. In it, I saw a heart, or a whale’s tail. I loved it. (It is the transom of a derelict small boat which once belonged to the Commodore of Dartmouth Naval college, no less! ) I had to buy it for the garden. Excited!

Below – the actual boat from which the sculpture was created … transom at the aft.






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Update on the Roman Fresco

I am still working on the Roman Fresco!! It’s been a hectic few weeks organising my Dad’s funeral and with family staying. Now everything has settled down and I’ve been able to get back to work this week. I thought it would be a simple task to ‘fill in the background’ but as always, adding new items alters the balance of the piece and I end up removing things which ‘jump out’ at me and revising different areas, all with the desire to “get it right.” Hopefully it will soon be resolved.

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