I am absolutely delighted to share the news with you that I am Artist in Residence at the University of Birmingham Winterbourne House and Gardens until May 2020.

 Winterbourne House and Gardens was a charming family home built in 1904 in the Arts and Crafts style. The last family to live in it bequeathed it to the University of Birmingham who used it for accommodation, offices and to teach botany from. In 2006 it got a new lease of life and has gone on to become a Grade II Garden of National Importance and now the house has full museum status. It is a treasure hidden away in the center of urban Birmingham.

 I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to spend the next 18 months walking the public and private paths painting and drawing what I see. I am trying to ease into the project without giving myself too many restraints on what I make of it (painting, patterns, textile work) there is abundant inspiration – but for now I’m seeing where the work leads me by letting the grounds inspire what I do first .

And this was the first little plot that made my heart beat faster – this cute little shed hidden away from public access (unless you study with the RHS) It was used by the BBC for a gardening programme years ago.

Yesterday I sat in the sunshine and got most of this piece sketched in – the hardest part is always beginning, so that’s done now!

My residency will evolve to include all kinds of offerings at Winterbourne during the 18 months and finale with an exhibition in May 2020.

I will be sharing this journey on my new Artist in Residence (artist_winterbournehg)Instagram page : www.instagram.com/artist_winterbournehg/ 

 and also on my personal Instagram page: http://www.instagram.com/claire_leggett/and here on the blog

I’d love you to join with me in this exciting chapter; I will be working on site regularly – so please come up to the studio above the bookshop or say hello if you spot me around the grounds – below is my Artist Statement for good measure.

Claire Leggett Artist in Residence 2018 – 2020_Statement

 

 

 

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Yesterday I got to meet my absolute painting hero – Jean B Martin when she did a talk at the opening of her exhibition in the Cotswolds. She has much to teach me as a painter and in real life she is both full of advice and new approaches and also witty and down-to-earth in a unstarry way which doesn’t belie her huge talent.

I discovered her work quite by accident when on holiday years ago – there was a beautiful jewel of a painting propped on the floor waiting to be framed (we were in a frame and exhibition shop)  and we loved it so much we bought it and that was the beginning of my discovery and subsequent adoration.

She also brought along her beautiful charcoal laden sketchbooks and I spent a long time getting grubby fingers and memorizing as much as I could! It was very special and I hope to put some new things into practice really soon.

Currently at the Midlands Art Center, Birmingham, UK is a wonderful Textile exhibition by The 62 Group called Ctrl/Shift. It’s on the theme of changes and shifts in the artists way of working whether that be by using new technology or a change of understanding or personal practice.

The 62 group has become one of the most prestigious Textile groups to be a member of and now has both international membership and a strict activity requirement to stay a member of and in doing so it keeps this prestige.

Here’s a few snaps of just a little of the exhibition.

Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor is an innovative fabric print maker from Glasgow.

Recast represents the change of light and space as you walk through a space.

Sue Stone uses machine or hand embroidered stitches (or a mix) to create amazing textures which are true-to-life of the object represented. She draws on the past and present, often in a portraiture style and her pieces are very close to a drawn/painted image but done with thread, fabric and dye.

Caroline Bartlett is based in the UK and produces tactile works involving pleating and fabric manipulation and which also often incorporate ceramics.

Jane McKeating   is an avid drawer – see her sketchbook film in the artists processes area of the exhibition and her instagram page.

This love of drawing translates through into printed and hand stitched embroidered art.

These pieces are found handkerchiefs which represent aspects of old age pertinent to her own experience of caring for an ageing parent.

They were my favourite pieces – so intricate, patterned and colourful yet sombre and emotive and intricately executed.

Come along and see it all before it closes.

I made the most of the recent sunny weather to do some messy dye projects in the garden.

This is some Shibori fun- the Japanese method of clamping and twisting fabric prior to dying.

It is so simple but effective but in the past it hasn’t always delivered the results hoped for until this time when the sun rendered me more patient than usual!

I’m planning some projects of things to make and stitch with these beautiful fabrics if I can bear to cut into them.

A week ago today we were soaking up the sunshine in Giverny, France, visiting Monet’s house and garden.

I think it’s a sign of ageing that I enjoy the nostalgia of a place such as this,

that and it’s cute, old world french-ness.

He lived here for forty-three years from 1883 to 1926 and I love theres still the sense that (however romantic and untrue it may be!) that he just sat here, or ate there…


The original house was very small and Monet enlarged it on both sides making it not very deep but very wide, which is kind of nice as there are now lots of windows all looking onto the garden.

The barn next to the house was adapted to become his studio although it was mostly for storage as he painted in the open air.

Above it’s the product of patience – below the reality! People everywhere.

Monet chose all the colours in the house and particularly wanted the blue kitchen to show through to the yellow dining room.

If you visit and happen to arrive when the queue to look around the house is small, then my advice is do it before the garden. We couldn’t resist the garden first and ended up with a long hot queue in the sun.

Hope you’ve enjoyed an armchair tour – here’s some fun facts I happened across if you want more 🙂

 

This past weekend we nipped over to Normandy, France to visit Monet’s garden in Giverny.

It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for years and HB had a spontaneous moment of birthday gifting and made it happen.

I’d heard a lot before I went about how small it was, how many visitors crammed in to see it, how it was the wrong season for this and that…

Some of that may be true – here’s a ‘truth’ photo of the constant crowds getting the bridge shot!

But generally I found that most people seemed to be storming around as they only had limited time on their coach/cruise ship excursion and so if you just linger and wait a quiet spot does open up around you.

The planting is unbelievable – whether you’re a gardener or a painter (or neither!) you can’t fail to appreciate it.

The borders are planted up in great long swathes of tonal groups – all yellows, reds and oranges or pinks or a quiet harmony of all-white plants.

It’s hard to get a really good photo of that as you are only allowed to walk the perimeter paths and not actually in and through the garden.

To get to the water lilies you use an under-the-road tunnel as Monet bought a plot of land across the road from the house and garden and landscaped it.

It’s much quieter in both its planting and because of the tranquility that all the water brings.

You can also paint in the gardens after hours Mon – Fri (not the weekends) by buying an artists pass at the ticket booth on the day you want to paint – buy the ticket between 5/5.30pm and then wait for the gardens to close and go back in after 6pm till 8pm.

If you want details I think the press office was the best source of information (details here)

It’s also worth knowing I think, that even if you print out your e-ticket and take it with you still have to stand in queue to go through with all those buying their tickets at the door. We had  a false sense of security that we would get flagged through an express queue -no! so we were glad we’d gone early on in the day.

I’ll do a another post showing the house soon.

Here to talk roses! They’ve been brilliant this year until a few weeks back when we began this tropical weather we’re enjoying in the UK and a month in they’ve suffered from lack of water.

This week I’ve dedicated myself to trying to paint some before they’re completely passed it but they’ve wilted as fast as I can paint them.

A messy rose strewn desk is a lovely thing though.

So I’ve done what I can and I’m off to enjoy a g&t in the sun – happy weekend 🙂

On Saturday I had the pleasure to be back in Nottingham with the Spotted Dog Art Group.

They rose magnificently to the challenge of abstracting landscapes through colour and brushwork.


As you can see here from the landscape inspiration, use of colour and being able to see things differently were the keys to success.

And it didn’t matter what kind of landscape scene it was (above is industrial, below coastal) the artists successfully abstracted through colour changes and seeing in shapes.

Everyone kept their own artistic signature whilst all having the same input and ideas on how to start and develop their work into the non-representative and this is what I find endlessly fascinating and exciting about teaching and working alongside other artists.

I count myself lucky when work is such a pleasure – if I lived near Nottingham, I’d join in a heartbeat.

Until next year…

One of my favourite ways to work is with a gelatin plate for mono-printing.

The process itself is messy-fun and the result, although not always what you expected to get, is always something interesting and useable.

When we’d been to Amsterdam a few years back, I did a lots of gelatin plate printing of the cute houses found there.

You can make effective stencils by cutting photographs directly – the gloss coated paper is great for this kind of printing.

I like to sew and applique into these prints to add details, further colour and visual texture and interest. But you can print effectively onto paper or fabric and they are a great source for any printmaker, scrapbooker or artist who might like to print and use texture, pattern or imagery to paint with, collage with or work further into with textile treatments.

If that’s got your interest and you’re within reach of MAC Birmingham then I am running a gelatin plate printing class on Thursday June 21st – tickets here.

If not then have a ‘google’ and give it a go – it’s a lot of fun 🙂

 

 

This year has been a brilliant one for my Hellebores which have quadrupled in size.

I’ve been wanting to paint them for some time but couldn’t bring myself to cut any when there were only one or two flowers – but this year is quite different.

I’ve been playing around painting onto darker grounds than usual and I quite like it. It really helps those whites to stand out and it adds a little drama. These were both acrylics on tissue paper; the latter bringing a lovely dappled background which shone through the paint still.

I love a new discovery!

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I am absolutely delighted to share the news with you that I am Artist in Residence at the University of Birmingham Winterbourne House and Gardens until May 2020 🙋🏻‍♀️I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to spend the next 18 months walking the public and private paths painting and drawing what I see. 🖌I am trying to ease into the project without giving myself too many restraints on what I make of it (painting, patterns, textile work) there is abundant inspiration! 🌳🐝🌼🐞🌾🌺🍁🌵 I’ve made a dedicated instagram page for the project – I’d love you to come on over and follow along with me as this exciting chapter develops. I will be working on site regularly – so please come up to the studio above the bookshop or say hello if you spot me around the grounds.👩🏻‍🎨 Also wrote a blog blurb too if you’re interested (click on claire_leggett profile name for links) #artist #artistoninstagram#artistinresidence #winterbournegardens#winterbourne #winterbournehg#winterbournehouseandgarden #artista#artiste #artinspo #artistoninstagram#birminghamartist #birmingham#birminghamart #birminghamlife#universityofbirmingham#gardeninspiration #painter#dreamscometrue

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