We are just back from a week away in the Peak District and I had forgotten just how beautiful it was up there.

We did lots of walking as the weather was extremely kind to us and I even got to sit and sketch on a couple of days.

And we took in a lot of art when we visited Chatsworth house.

The wallpaper was AmAzInG!

There was a whole wall of Lucian Freud work.

And this Gainsborough – I didn’t notice until I looked back at the photograph that her expression is both quizzical and a bit sassy – both unusual for a woman in a portrait of that time.

And there were gorgeous Spring flowers to inspire everywhere.



And lots to eat and drink (!) and all that fresh air and lack of the usual responsibilities has re-charged my batteries.


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A few weekends ago, HB and I had a little sojourn in Bristol and whilst there came across the Lubaina Himid exhibition showing at Spike Island.

Naming The Money is an installation of 100 life-sized wooden cutout figures representing Africans brought to Europe as servants.

My name is Ahmed
They call me Henry
I used to play the music of my people
Now I play to forget them
But I love the notes

Historically these slaves were given new names and roles and Himid attached their printed stories on the back of each figure.

My name is Zody
They call me Jenny
I used to grind herbs into powder
Now I blend fine tea for the ladies
But I am the best

I found this to be one of the most touching things – both sadness at their loss and humiliation but humbled by the positivity too.

My name is Essian
They call me Dan
I used to lead the army
Now I play for children
But I love their laughter

The fact that these were freestanding and you could walk among them was very effecting and their life-size-ness really made me connect with them as the real people they represented.

Himid was originally a set designer and wanted this exhibition to bring slaves out of the shadows and corners of traditional portrait painting and give them center stage.

My name is Emmi
They call me Jenny
I used to make potions and keep them in a jar
Now I help to make jam
They say it tastes good

And on a superficial note, I also enjoyed all the colours and patterning. Simply done but very moving.

My name is Akron
They call me Henry
I used to play at weddings
Now I play at funerals
But I have the memory

I’m popping in to let you know that Winterbourne House and Gardens have booked me for a day of painting fun on July 2nd. You can view the details here if you’re interested – we will be collaging canvases, having fun mark making and using the beautiful gardens to gather and sketch ideas to paint. And if your worried about your artistic abilities – don’t! I always have reference books and tracing paper tucked away 😉

I’ve also ordered sunshine so that we can eat ice creams and enjoy the grounds!

 

Over the last few weeks I’ve been inspired to have a go at making a lampshade.

It’s based upon the woods that we live opposite from and can see from our front windows and it’s also where we walk the dog everyday, so of course she features too!

I began by measuring (and measuring again) and making a patchwork textile picture of the right proportions for the shade using colours to suggest the passing of the seasons and some of my favourite rare Liberty scraps.

Then I lino-printed the trees on (regretted using a dark purple but it was too late) and then the fun and time-consuming part was to embellish it with embroidery.

I tried to make the trees show the movement from Spring through to Summer and through to Winter as the shade curls around.

I used French Knots for blossom, diamond-shaped leaves and couching with the bobbin thread.

And of course a bit of free-motion machine embroidery with my new toy*

Still reflecting on what colour to keep the lamp base but I’m pleased to have tried this and it’ll be a whole lot easier now another time – watch this space!

cl_fayence-_rooftops

Half term has been a welcome break in the normal in and out of running classes and has afforded me a block of time to paint. It’s been a while – on day one I had zero concentration for it and had to really plug away but it always falls into place if I keep at it.

book_inspo

And the slower mornings have meant a cup to tea in bed accompanied by something from my enormous post-Christmas reading pile. Inspiration abounds now.

hockney4

We made a family visit this weekend and while ‘Up North’ made a trip out to Salts Mill.

saltsmill1

The mill is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire and as such exhibits lots of Hockney.

saltsmill2

These beautiful paintings were part of the history of the Mill in the People and Process exhibition.

hockney2

These are some of Hockney’s iPad drawings which make up The arrival of Spring exhibition.

hockney1

They are studies done in the same location, Woldgate, as the seasons passed.

hockney_textures_grid1

The colouring, the textures and mark-making were so inspiring.

hockney3
And the book(s) shop were worth the trip too – highly recommended day out 😉

winterbourne_exhibiton-1
This week I hung an exhibition of my work at the Coach House Gallery which is at Winterbourne Botanical Gardens, Birmingham.

winterbourne_coach_house_exhibition

Winterbourne is part of the Birmingham University campus.

winterbourne_house

It’s an Edwardian Arts and Crafts house built for the family of John Nettlefold in 1903.

It’s last owner bequeathed it to the University where it became the Botanical Gardens in 1944.

winterbourne_hot-house

It’s one of those magical places that has held onto the history of the past and simultaneously successfully embraced the future.

winterbourne_garden-room

And my colourful work has ushered Spring in a little earlier than Mother Nature (it’s trying to snow today)

winterbourne_coach_house_exhibition-1

Exhibition hanging takes patience and stamina (good step-ladder muscles!)

coach-house-gallery-case-3
One of the most fun things to do was fill the glass exhibition case.

coach-house-gallery-case

I have laid out sketchbooks, pattern design swatches, an old paint palette, some tubes of paint, brushes, pencils and design work that shows how I use my original paintings digitally.

coach-house-gallery-case-4

It was fun to set the scene.

winterbourne_coach_house_exhibition_me

And now I’m happily heading off to a restful weekend – there’s a G & T with my name on it!

***

Exhibition is up until 12th March




provence-alpes-cote-dazur_500px

 I’m so very ready for Spring now and there’s nothing like painting from holiday photos to banish the grey, wet days away. This one is from the south of France last year and is inspired by the Fauvists use of hot and cold, bright, bright colours.

my-fabric-printed

I got the biggest surprise for Christmas when I opened a big box and found this, my own design, printed up on gorgeous heavy weight linen. My HB had made up a pretty believable story in order to get hold of the files to this design and I didn’t suspect for a moment that he was in cahoots with my S-I-L whose idea it was to get it printed.

poppy-faces_design_claire_leggett_100dpi_tagged

It has got my thinking hard about future possibilities…

 

Happy New Year all.

End of week 1 of a shiny new year and I’ve kept my new year resolution to paint something everyday please click link to see the Flipagram.

folk art birds_claire Leggett

Fingers crossed for weeks 2, 3, 4 ..!

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