My neighbour in Hackney had an inspirational formal garden of box hedging, lavender and Alchemilla mollis with a backdrop of white stemmed birches.
Our garden was a little less formal but we shared the foxgloves that would appear in cracks in the paving or in the shade beneath the birch trees. You'd often find yourself viewing the garden through their tall spires.
In our Norfolk garden, red poppies, teasels and perhaps inadvisably planted bronze fennel were the random additions to our gardening efforts.
Here in Edinburgh it's the Welsh poppy that's a very welcome invader, giving the garden its character, finding a home in just about every gap in brickwork edging, beds and pathways, even growing in the stone walls. It's easily weeded out and the fun is in keeping a balance.
Sadly, despite its clear blue flowers which perfectly compliment the yellow and orange of the poppies, the alkanet isn't so welcome. Once its tap roots are have taken hold it's a devil to pull out.
Posted by Angie Lewin on May 29th, 2013
Whilst the weather hasn't been as idyllic as we'd imagined when planning our trip to Tuscany, the converted barn that we're staying at in the hills close to Sansepolcro is about as perfect as it could be, surrounded by olive trees and wild flower meadows.
After the rain yesterday I collected a few unassuming local specimens to paint in detail. View larger images over at my Facebook page.
Posted by Angie Lewin on May 9th, 2013
We managed to sneak in a quick trip to Sissinghurst the other week. Maybe it's a bit ambitious to try to make the large scale planting schemes of these great gardens work in a small garden, but the spring-flowering anemones, snake's head fritillaries, trilliums and hellebores were just so beautiful and understated. I'm going to try to emulate it in our long, well, long-ish, narrow front garden in Edinburgh.
The Charles Rennie Mackintosh watercolour below shows the unique chequerboard pattern on the fritillary's purple flowers. Apparently, Vita Sackville-West called it "a sinister little flower, in the mournful colour of decay" which seems a bit harsh.
Posted by Angie Lewin on May 6th, 2013
Here's my latest screen print, Autumn Garden, Norfolk.
Growing cultivated and wild plants together often creates a beautifully random effect. This screen print depicts huge papery artichoke flowers, astrantia and miscanthus growing amongst teasels, wild poppies and grasses in my Norfolk meadow garden on a late autumn afternoon.
Posted by Angie Lewin on April 28th, 2013
We had the pleasure of printmaker Chloe Cheese’s company recently. She was staying with us in Edinburgh, working on images for our forthcoming St. Jude’s In The City exhibition at The Scottish Gallery in July.
A short time after her return south we were saddened to hear from Chloe that her father, the painter and printmaker Bernard Cheese, had passed away.
I was very lucky to be taught by Bernard throughout my three years at Central St. Martin’s in the 1980s. He inspired me in all aspects of printmaking, especially linocut, lithography and the inclusion of collage in my work and was particularly encouraging in the run up to my final show.
Married to Sheila Robinson, Bernard Cheese lived in Great Bardfield in the 1950s, exhibiting regularly in local exhibitions with neighbours Edward Bawden, John Aldridge, Michael Rothenstein and Marianne Straub.
The images below are courtesy of The Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden who hold many of Bernard’s prints in their archives.
And here’s an obituary from The Guardian.
Chloe Cheese will be one of the ten printmakers taking part in our St. Jude's In The City exhibition in Edinburgh in July.
Posted by Angie Lewin on April 2nd, 2013
We had the pleasure of printmaker Chloe Cheese's company last week - she was staying with us whilst working on a print for our St. Jude's In The City exhibition in Edinburgh in July.
The week before we'd received of Chloe's mother Sheila Robinson's illustrated book of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
This was never published in her lifetime but The Centre for Children's Book Studies at Anglia Ruskin University have worked with the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden (who hold the original artwork in their archives) to publish the book for the first time, instigated by Professor Martin Salisbury with additional design and retouching by Brian Webb of Webb & Webb Design.
The illustrations - with skilfully varied weight of line and texture - are just beautiful. Where she has applied colour it is in a simple printmakerly way and the delicate script text and drawings are combined to fit a landscape format. The dust jacket is lined with spreads from her original sketchbooks. It's a beautiful piece of print.
Printmaker Chloe Cheese says of the book…
"The beautiful pen and ink drawings and delicate text of this book fascinated me when I was a child and drew me into the enchanted world of the fairy tale.
Although she hoped for publication at the time, she was still a young woman and I think other things, such as working on The Festival of Britain, marrying and having children, took over her life so that this book was put to one side.
The princesses in the boats rowing across the lake in particular is an image that fired my imagination and inspired me to emulate my mother to become an illustrator myself. Looking at this illustration now I admire the lightness of touch and the use of light and shade. The picture still takes me to the edge of the lake and into the story."
Posted by Angie Lewin on March 11th, 2013
I'm really looking forward to seeing James Russell's new book, published by the Mainstone Press, about Eric Ravilious' Submarine series of lithographs. Created during the winter of 1940-41, these prints capture the cramped conditions inside a naval submarine during wartime.
Above all this series of ten prints are brilliant examples of how auto-lithography faithfully reproduces - and even enhances - the qualities of drawn line and texture. They're not mere reproductions of watercolour drawings. Ravilious' skill as a printmaker is evident - especially in the images with the striking use of bright yellow and blue with graphite grey.
So far I've only seen these images - I can't wait to see the book in the flesh. Will report back soon.
Posted by Angie Lewin on February 13th, 2013
Jonny Hannah's 'Burns Miscellany' landed on our doormat today with spontaneous drawings printed onto vibrant coloured pages. Timorous Sassanachs that we are, we didn't indulge in traditional the haggis fare last night but are big fans of Tunnocks of all varieties - including Mark Hearld's collage, exhibited at Godfrey & Watt in 2011 (see last image).
You can see more of Jonny's printmaking over at St. Jude's Prints.
Posted by Angie Lewin on January 26th, 2013
I've recently been looking through past work in plan chests and folders and came across a number of prints that I produced when I started printmaking again in earnest in the 1990s.
'Beachcomber' is a very early wood engraving and really shows the influence of Monica Poole's work. I've suspected that the subject matter in my prints has always been slow to evolve as I draw and redraw objects, trying to capture variations in the insignificant. And what might help explain the 'clutter' in my studio is that I still have the same stones, driftwood and rope that feature in this print - all collected in the Orkneys in the early 1990s.
Posted by Angie Lewin on January 20th, 2013
I've recently exchanged the tending of a large semi-wild Norfolk country garden with the cultivation of a tiny walled back garden and even smaller front garden in the centre of Edinburgh. Having spent a number of years living in London after graduating, I'm enjoying urban gardening again and I find myself studying the plants growing here in as close detail as those in our old meadow garden.
We're lucky - on one side we have woodland (with owls, woodpeckers, buzzards and foxes) and a small burn as neighbours. It's one of those renowned damp Scottish gardens and so, in the old stone walls and between the bricks edging the beds, we find a variety of ferns and welsh poppies too. Honeysuckle happily grows in the mortar of the walls in places.
When in the plant nursery or leafing through seed catalogues I now find myself being more choosy as every plant must really earn its place here. At the same time, I want to keep the same chaotic mix of the wild and the cultivated that inspires me, to continue to celebrate the self-seeders, to welcome those that climb and creep over and under my neighbours' fences and walls.
In her gardening anthology Garden Wisdom, Leslie Geddes-Brown includes 'A Gentle Plea for Chaos' by Mirabel Osler in which she asks... "So when I make a plea for havoc, what would be lost? Merely the pristine appearance of a garden kept highly manicured which could be squandered for amiable disorder. Just in some places. Just to give a pull at our primeval senses. A mild desire for amorphous confusion which will gently infiltrate and, given time, one day will set the garden singing".
This is the garden I hope I'll create here.
Posted by Angie Lewin on January 13th, 2013