I’ve been in Stratford-upon-Avon this past weekend, meeting up with my dear friend Rachel. On Sunday the weather cleared enough for us to enjoy a visit to Shakespeare’s New Place, Museum and Gardens. I had been very excited about seeing these gardens as they are a work of art. Inspired by the works of Shakespeare, the gardens were created by a collective of artists, landscapers, theatre-makers and volunteers. The words of Shakespeare are inscribed within this landscape on pendants, sculptures, benches and on the paving stones.
Meandering through the gardens was truly inspiring! It’s also fully accessible for wheelchair users, which I hope can inspire other UK visitor attractions! This stunning centrepiece is a circle of twenty-six hornbeams (one for every play written at New Place) that encircles the sculpture His Mind’s Eye by Jill Berelwitz. The bent bronze tree could surely have braved The Tempest and expresses Shakespeare’s creativity, the sheer force of his genius. From this angle it seemed to me to be like looking at a giant eye. Perhaps the eye of the storm?
Shakespeare was at his most creative during the nineteen years that New Place was the family home. That creativity lives on in the gardens now. Even more inspirational is that work only began here two years ago, for the four-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing. Beyond the yew walk, the Great Gardens are surrounded by the most extraordinary sculptures by Greg Wyatt, each one depicting a Shakespeare play. I think I will find something new in each of them every time I visit. It was tempting to re-ennact a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Rachel and I enjoyed the Wild Bank at the end of the garden. We both performed the play at sixth form college, I was typecast as the short but feisty Hermia and Rachel was a woodland fairy. Many happy memories were relived during our visit and I know we’ll be back!
This week Krista has asked us to depict something or someone we admire. I admire every single member of my family and all my amazing friends, so I don’t want to single any of them out! I happened to be working on a composite image of wrens when the challenge came up, so I felt it was the perfect opportunity to explain the inspiration behind the composition of the piece. The way the wren moved about on the branch was quite comical and reminded me of the work of wildlife artist, Warwick Higgs. Please have a look at his work, it’s great fun!
Sixteen years ago I was working in a gallery in Epsom. We made bespoke frames for all sorts of pieces of art, as well as selling prints, limited editions and Fine Art originals. They were some of the happiest days of my life but also some of the hardest. My Crohn’s was out of control and I went through three major operations to have a permanent stoma formed, an ileostomy. Having a place to work, if only part-time when my health allowed, gave me a real purpose and enormous satisfaction. My boss and colleagues were always supportive and understanding. It was hard for all of us when arthritic problems and fibromyalgia made it just too unsafe for me to continue working as a framer several years later.
It wasn’t just my co-workers in the gallery who gave me much needed support though! We worked closely with a number of wildlife artists who I admired very much indeed. Among them were David Sheppard CBE, Gary Hodges and Warwick Higgs. All of these artists helped us raise funds, for local and international wildlife charities, through auctions of their art at events held in the gallery. Warwick spent a lot of time with us as we framed many his originals. He also used the gallery space to hold a number of Live Art days, setting up his easel in the window space and sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with everyone who visited.
He was always very encouraging of my own art, both painting and photography. We shared a love for the observation of animal behavior, bringing some of those charismatic quirks into our work. I remember being incredibly touched when I received a handmade card and letter from Warwick whilst I was in hospital for the second of my operations. To be able to make someone feel valued is a rare gift! I will never forget his support and wish that I hadn’t lost touch with him over the years. A wonderful artist whose observation of the natural world has always produced the most delightful and fun pieces of art!
I often find that the very scenes that I am photographing inspire me to create changes in their appearance that transform the original to something from my dreams.
Visiting Watts Chapel in Compton is always an inspiration! The chapel was created by Mary Watts, an Art & Crafts potter and sculptor, and her husband George F. Watts, the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor and painter. When I visited at the end of summer I wondered how the chapel would look at night. Here is a gallery of the Chapel’s transition through processing:
A week ago Simon and I went to visit his step-daughter, my friend Sam, in Somerset for the day. We drive right past Stonehenge every time we go to see them. This time I asked Simon if we could briefly stop near the henge so that I could capture a few photos. There’s a dirt road near the site itself that is just about okay to drive down in our car. I managed to capture the stones from a few different angles and this one pleased me the most. Being one of the most popular tourist attractions of the area, the scene was busy with people even though heavy rain was forecast and the skies were very threatening! Those fabulous skies inspired me to add a rainbow to my image. It’s the scene that I dream of seeing for real one day! Until that magic finally happens for me, my imagination will have to do. Here is a gallery showing the scene’s transition through processing:
I have to thank my friend Julia K for providing the subject matter and inspiration for this week’s challenge! Julia has long been a fan of my abstract work, her words of encouragement and genuine delight are succour to this artist’s soul.
Julia recently completed work on her own music-recording studio and rehearsal room. It’s truly fantastic! I just love some of the finishing touches too, like these antique-style, zigzag light bulbs! I had great fun with these manual focus, macro shots and the post-processing in Lightroom. If any of you were curious about my Silent Sunday image, it was a defocussed photo of one of these bulbs! I love painting with light 🙂
We have communal gardens here at our flats and one resident, in particular, does a huge amount of work to keep our gardens looking bright and beautiful.
Brian is an unsung hero. He selflessly gives of his time to help other residents with their own garden areas and always offers help to those in need.
His bright and colourful countenance is reflected in the wonderful blooms on show here. It’s no wonder we’re always winning Woking In Bloom!
Brian and his wife, Carole, are a true example of “the good neighbour”. I have huge respect for them and I’m so glad to live alongside such lovely people who have really inspired a sense of community here.
Brian is pictured here on Greenoak’s website (residential involvement section) with the Woking in Bloom trophy 🙂
The launch of Mark Nelson’s new album “In From The Cold” was held tonight in picturesque Farnham, Mark’s home town.
Mark describes himself as “an acoustic blues balladeer”. His songs are beautiful, some hauntingly poetic and others with a wry sense of humour, but mostly they’re so infectious you just can’t stop your toes tapping!
Of course he’s much more than just a great blues-man, singer and songwriter – he does it all with just the one arm and hand (minus some fingers!)
I guess he would understand very well my theme of “taking one day at a time”. Disability leads you, as an individual, to find ways of making things work for you within your own limitations.
Actually sometimes I think Mark took the word “limitations” and just tore it out of the dictionary! Wherever I see and hear Mark play, people always say “what an inspiration”.
Yes he is! First and foremost though, he’s a fantastic musician 🙂
The album is available to buy on both iTunes and Amazon and you can see and hear more of Mark at:
Hi everyone. Thank you all for following my work and this blog. I’d really like to get a bit more interactive with my audience so I thought I’d ask you all to send me your thoughts on what photographs you’d like to see.
The best way you can interact with me is commenting here with a suggestion which could be a theme, a title, a subject, a quote that I could illustrate, a short poem, a favourite book or song, colours or anything else you can think of.
Post your comment with your name and I’ll be sure to tag you in the photo that you’ve inspired 🙂
Thanks and please do pass this on! The more suggestions the better.