More Contributions Please!
Members Collaborate to Produce Children's Book
Gaye Jee and Mary Harris have collaborated to produce a children's picture book entitled 'Seven Sardines for Stan'. It's based upon the real adventures of Gaye's cats, Stan and Dweezil, and their love for catnip sardines. Gaye says, 'I wrote Seven Sardines around eighteen months ago. I've always admired Mary's work and when I saw one of her pictures in a more illustrative style I asked her if she would be interested in working on pictures for my book - I was so pleased she said yes! I hope both children and adults will enjoy the humour and of course Mary's delightful drawings'. Seven Sardines for Stan is A5 size and 20 pages long. It's available to buy from Gaye at £4.50 a copy. Click here to contact her.
A New Commission for Caroline
Crowborough artist Caroline Hobbs was commissioned to paint this lovely double portrait of Arthur and Benjamin Pearce. She writes: "I have spent the greater part of my working life teaching art, first in London, then at Beacon Academy in Crowborough and then for 20 years as Head of Art at Temple Grove Prep school. While there I did the sets for all the school plays, including "Ruddigore", in which 6 portraits come to life! Some of the parents then asked me to do portraits of their children. I found that this was something that, although challenging, I loved! Where possible I like to paint people in their own surroundings with objects that tell you about their interests, as can be seen in my portrait of the Pearce boys. I hope that in years to come it will remind them of this time in their lives."
Life Drawing Live!
Over the past couple of Fridays (31st July and 7th August), we've been running Life Drawing Live sessions at Ghyll Farm in Crowborough. Taking advantage of the fine weather, up to five artists, plus a model, spent the day drawing and painting outdoors in the beautiful setting of Julia Ball's garden. The sessions were run by our model, Alice, who has sat for many life classes in the past, both for Crowborough Arts and other artists. The morning was spent drawing and painting quick and moving poses, while longer poses took up the afternoon session. Artists were able to book for one or both sessions, on each of the scheduled days and both were pretty much sold out.
Special thanks go to Julia for allowing us to use her garden! If you are interested in hearing about future sessions, please do get in touch here, and we'll put you on the list.
It's a Sign!
CA People: Erica Adams
Another long-term CA member, Erica is probably best known to us as a visual artist. However, here she tells her story of how she came to publish her first novel:
Part 1: The Conception of The Pig and I
In 1994 a friend gave me the book Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Al Zuckerman. Eagerly, I had read every word and made copious notes. At that time I was writing a novel set one hundred years in the future and I incorporated what I had learnt from the Blockbuster book into its planning. I had written a detailed synopsis and the first seven chapters and, full of excitement, I sent Twenty Ninety-Five to Al Zuckerman’s Writers House Office in New York. Surely he would be interested: I had followed all his guidelines.
Read the rest of Erica's story here.
Inspired by Art
Robin Jeffrey & Alessandra Testai in Concert
On Wednesday 22nd July at 6.30 pm, CA Favourites Robin Jeffery and Alessandra Testai performed a mini concert of Summer songs by John Dowland, Tromboncino, H. Lawes, Frescobaldi and Henry Purcell. You can catch up with the concert by clicking here.
Paintings from the Lockdown
Jeannette Towey writes: "Attached is my most recently completed painting. It's the stream in Crowborough Country Park, oil on A2 sized canvas. I love painting streams as I'm captivated by light on water, especially where the water is trickling over rocks."
Susie Rotberg sent in two new paintings. "The first is an acrylic painting of a cherry blossom Tree that I found randomly blooming in the woods near me on Ashdown forest - I have never noticed it before on my walks and I thought I knew every nook and cranny. The second is an oil painting in the bluebell wood behind our house - the bluebell colour makes a very tricky palette and I spend a lot of time every spring experimenting with colour harmony. Those very first vibrant Spring greens are hard to capture and they only last a couple of weeks. My favourite time of year ..."
Take the Painting Challenge!
Mary Harris, who facilitated our life and portrait sessions for many years, has shared an idea for a series of art projects first suggested by Ros Plumley at RTW Art Society.
Part 1 was a challenge to paint a scene of your choosing in your kitchen, BUT only use art materials that are from the back of your cupboard, gathering dust, that you haven’t used for years. You can repeat the same picture using your favoured medium if you like.
Part 2 is to produce a picture in a Surrealist style, in any medium or subject. Think lobster telephone, inflated lips ... let your imagination run wild! Mary has done just that, with her 'Tangle in Trafalgar Square'!
Please photograph and send pictures to Mary: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will allow a fortnight for each challenge, before giving you the next one, and submitted pictures will be featured on the CA Home Page.
'Inspired by Art' - an Online Course by Christine Roberts
Twenty years ago I’d had the chance to go on a course at the National Gallery which did just what the title of this piece suggests - and I’d really relished the opportunity to bring two of my favourite things together. That’s how I came to produce the current course on Ekphrastic poetry which is the term used to describe poems inspired by art.
The six-week course is structured to look at different genres in painting and different approaches by poets in response to paintings. The first week focused on the need to observe paintings very closely and, for those members who wanted to write their own poems, to do so and to get feedback. Following that first week where we looked at paintings by Breughel and Van Gogh, we moved on to look at portraits and life drawing, still lifes, and historical, narrative and genre paintings. Still to come are landscape, seascape and nature paintings, and to finish we’ll look at some abstract and, maybe, surrealist works. We’ve already looked at poems by Walter De La Mare, William Carlos Williams, Carol Ann Duffy, Paul Durcan, Michael Longley, W. H. Auden and others responding to works by painters including Braque, Lowry, Giacometti, Uccello, Morandi, Cezanne, Picasso and Vuillard.
What have been tremendous are the poems participants have sent us in response to the material. You may already have read some on the website and here are links to all the poems written so far. I’ve been delighted with the writer’s imaginative approaches, the freshness of their language and the skills on offer. The only thing I regret is that we are not meeting face to face to read our poems and enjoy each others. Let’s hope for a future live running of this programme.
If you'd like to contact Christine, click here.
BBC Radio Kent played another of Gaye Jee's monologue's on 12th May. If you'd like to listen to the story of a woman fulfilling her mother's dream, click here to listen to 'White Horses', at approx 3.43. Her previous monologue, 'After the Dream' which was played on 6th May, is available here. The monologue is at 3.46.40
A Look Back to 2019
At this time when none of us are going out, it seemed like a good moment to have a look at what we achieved last year. We put on around a dozen talks, music, performance and arts events. Highlights included our celebration of our county, 'A Sussex Salmagundi', that featured over 20 performers; a talk from the well-known author Simon Brett and the fascinating 'Sound of Paint' with music historian Peter Medhurst, plus around 50 hands-on sessions including regular life drawing and portraiture, and our Booklovers and Playreaders meetings. 2020, our 10th anniversary, would have been just as busy, but never fear, we'll be back with a vengeance as soon as we possibly can!
As the first of a series of mini-features on Crowborough Arts people, we begin with our Chair, Angela Vernon Bates. Click here to read about her life as a singer and artist before CA!
Earth Day: 22nd April
"Trees exhale for us so that we can inhale them to stay alive. Can we ever forget that? Let us love trees with every breath we take until we perish." - Munia Khan
I took this photo of an oak tree near Rotherfield first thing in the morning. When I awoke that day, everything was shrouded in mist, with just a hint of golden light that told me the sun would break through. I threw on my clothes and walked through the fields to photograph my favourite tree.
The Hidden Life of a Social Girl ...
Margaret Sayer (this is NOT Margaret pictured!) has shared the following poem - we don't know who wrote it, but it certainly hits the nail on the head at the moment!
I'm normally a social girl
I love to meet my mates
But lately with the virus here
We can't go out the gates.
You see, we are the 'oldies' now
We need to stay inside
If they haven't seen us for a while
They'll think we've upped and died.
Click here to read the full poem.
Decorative Face Mask Competition
CA Chair Angela Vernon Bates says: "Throw your creative energy into this unusual competition - you don't have to draw or paint, just let your imagination soar! Make a simple face-mask (click here for details) - it only takes a few minutes!" This mask is for decoration so it doesn’t need to be germ proof but can be if you prefer and you can decorate it in any way you like, though please don't use bought masks - the NHS need all they can get.
Take a photo of you or someone else wearing the mask and send to Gaye -email@example.com. She will put them on the website for us all to see. - There will be a virtual prize for the winner. Closing date 1st June.
CA People: Todd & Todd
Barbara and Justin Todd have been great supporters of CA since the early years and are familiar faces at most of our events. Both practising artists, we asked them to tell us a little more about themselves.
Barbara writes: We have both spent the last 62 years living in a world of all things creative, on Justin’s part as an illustrator, very well known for his amazing powers of imagination and exquisite technique. He has an enormous body of work under his belt, ranging from History books, Science Fiction, Children’s books, to magazines like Men Only!
His first commission was for a large mural for Morley College, London; the subject: The Canterbury Tales. Recently restored, it looks as fresh and bright as it was sixty years ago. Always working at home, he took on one day-a-week teaching at Brighton College of Art which kept him sane and in touch with the outside world.
Justin is best known for his interpretation of Children’s Classics and won Prizes for his versions of the two Alices and his delightful Wind in the Willows. He had two major Exhibitions at the National Theatre, one for his Book covers, very collectable, and one covering all the original artwork for his many children’s books. The University of Brighton gave him a large retrospective exhibition on his retirement from teaching. Now in his late eighties, he continues to produce charming and amusing paintings which have a narrative quality but can stand alone as Fine Art. They have the exquisite finish of his illustrations, but now he can choose his own subject.
My own career took a very different direction. Realising that it would not be easy to make a living as a Fine Artist, I turned to teaching and spent 38 years teaching Art & Design, the last 30 years as Head of Art at Wimbledon High School. I taught Fine Art and History of Art up to A level, supporting the latter with regular trips to Italy: not for the faint-hearted, but a good time for all!
Other activities which came with the job were designing sets and costumes for drama productions and organising outings to London Galleries for the whole school – a very busy life, which left little time for my own work. Despite this, I found the students very stimulating and felt they taught me as much as I taught them!
When I finally retired, I began to develop my own work, so long neglected, and have struggled to persevere with this to date. This can be a mixture of frustration and satisfaction, (sometimes), but always interesting. So, every day is a working day for both of us; apart from friends, holidays etc, what else is there to do?
Pictures from the Lockdown
Hot Off the Press
Mary Harris has shared a beautiful new woodcut. She writes: "This new woodcut is completely different from others I have done, but reflects the domestic viewpoint and smaller horizons during the lockdown. It is printed on a fine Japanese paper and pink watercolour added on the reverse shows through."
A Song for the Times
Singer/songwriter and CA member Alice Barnard, who has performed in many of our shows, has written a song about the way Coronavirus has affected us all: Click here to watch her video on Youtube.
As you know, one of the events we had to cancel was the amazing folk dance band, Stepling. Click on the picture to watch their brilliant video of 'Allen Water'
Elizabeth Wood and Christine Roberts have collaborated to set up art projects which they then both interpret. We think this is a brilliant idea to stimulate creativity while we're all cooped up - why not give a friend a call and give it a go?
Week 1: 'Dying Tulips', 'Lemons' (in the style of Mary Fedden) and 'The Corner of My Conservatory'. Originals are on the left, followed by Elizabeth's interpretations in the middle and Christine's on the right.
For their 2nd week, Elizabeth responded to a collage by Christine.
Week 3 saw them interpreting David Hockney's monochrome drawings.
Week 4: This week Elizabeth set the challenge which was to do a collage using decorative papers and then to use it to make some gift tags!
For week 5, Elizabeth and Christine took their inspiration from some fossilised items and some rocks that came from the desert near Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Elizabeth interpreted hers in pencil, enlarged it and added some digital strokes in the background. Christine drew hers directly on her iPad on a background of a beach in Southwold, using an Apple pencil and Procreate software.
Week 6: Christine writes, "Elizabeth had two flat felt pouches that she was given on a long haul flight to New Zealand. Inspired by various
bits of fabrics I had we decided to embellish them with a Japanese theme."
Week 7 - their final week - was inspired by line drawings by Matisse (top). Elizabeth's response is on the left and Christine's on the right.
Peter Jeffery has sent us six of his poems so far - thank you Peter!
You can read all of Peter's poems here.
Chapel Porth Postcard by Peter Jeffery
"Just as back ground, Chapel Porth is a tiny almost deserted group of cottages on the North Coast of Cornwall that you can get to at low tide or by a little footpath."
Picture a narrow tranquil track
Beside the dancing ringlets of a tumbling stream
Close roofed by a thousand mad maypoles of spring blossom
Then to be fanned as you pass by wild flowers
Each bursting for the attention of a droning throng
That scatter hither and thither
Confused it seems by the heady scent of grass fresh mown
With all things so bright and beautiful
The Sunday school innocence of childhood is pleasantly recalled
And the spirit is lifted in contentment
The valley now broadens to a vast swathe of soft sea washed sand
Beyond the eyes reach
Margined by a looming curtain of mist that veils the mighty surf
But not its mighty roar
A mighty roar echoed by the soaring granite cenotaphs to long gone miners
That sculptured by the elements of time
Rise and rise again as if to touch the sky
It is here you can gambol like a mad March fool
Amongst the dunes with your loved ones
More likely though you will stand transfixed
And gaze and gaze in trepid awe
At the ever changing splendour of nature's imagination
Reflection here will ask about your faith
Did he who made the lamb make this?
Think well before you answer.”
Sue Whatley sent in her lino cuts of 'Phases of the Sun' - 'just to remind us that the sun will come out again.'
In Memory of Times Past by Anne Schifler
This poem was sent to us by CA member Anne Schifler. It perfectly expresses the nostalgia of looking back on a happy childhood.
Oh England how I miss you though many years apart,
the memories of my childhood stay ever in my heart.
The scent of new mown grass, the first cuckoo call in spring,
the hedgehog I had for a pet - oh so many, many things.
Those happy days with Grandma in Notting Hill Gate;
I was only five but still remember all the love she gave;
the places that she took me, and which I’ve not seen since:
Kensington Gardens, The Palace, the Changing of the Guard -
I can see myself a little child peering through the bars
and getting lost in Selfridges, and remembering what Grandma said
’Stay where you are if you are lost and soon you will be found.’
What little things when we are young remain within the mind,
and now so many years have gone, and many loved ones too,
but still I have the memories…
And if today I forget what happened yesterday,
they say the memories of a happy past are the last to fade away.
When Stan Came Back
by Gaye Jee
Last summer, our cat went missing for three days. We put notices all around Rotherfield and were offered no less than four grey cats during the time he was missing! This story is an imaginary version of what happened. It was written for children, but I hope everyone will enjoy it! Click on the picture to download the pdf.