Autumn 2017

Hello Gummy Bears,

Here we are again: another summer ends and we resign ourselves to chilly days and darkening nights. I confess, summer distracts me –

a natural afternoon napper, the urge for my deckchair around 3pm is overwhelming so it’s good (or at least a more productive thing) to find myself back in woolly tights in front of the easel, particularly with the generous encouragement of you good people.

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 A studio-warming gift to Jam. Thank you Jenny from Abu Dhabi.

Jam is now 12 weeks old and I must say, ”Thank you very much” to all the visitors who have been in to say hello since June, some travelling from mystical Southern lands, like Kent.

Still my baby, Jam is beginning to toddle and even though I currently open the doors just 3 days a week, overseeing a permanent gallery space is an interesting new experience.  My first hurdle (since the battle to remove all trace of dog grooming action) has been trying to stay vaguely tidy for visitors.  I don’t just mean the work environment (though I do try to run a duster about the place) but also myself.  When working in a closed studio, it doesn’t matter that I look like a walking jumble sale but in a public space the least I can do for visitors is not frighten them. It’s a novelty for me to paint in a dress and make up but I’m enjoying the occasional day of being a lady.  No-one expects me to wear a dress of course; I just think maybe that comfy old t-shirt with ‘f**king psycho’ written across the back might send out the wrong impression.

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I require a very strong prescription these days

The Social Whirl

Along with the painting larks, I’m discovering all manner of non-creative demands along the way.  Aside from the essential window washing, visits to framers, hanging art and other tasks, it seems that everyone, whether in the public eye or not, must now engage in social media.  Anyone who follows my accounts knows I’m hopelessly neglectful but I cringe at the thought of being a crashing web-bore. The result of this paranoia is that I’ve possibly gone too far the other way (10 Tweets so far this year and even fewer posts to Instagram). I ponder over how often is too often to update websites and social media pages and do you really want to know the details of my breakfast? I doubt it. My feeling is that I can legitimately rattle away on my own website and that if you are also here, you might not mind knowing that I had two pieces of brown toast (one with marmite and one with tangerine jam, both with cat hairs) but I wouldn’t want to clog up your social feeds with it every day.

I spend too much time staring at screens; always a people watcher, I’m drawn as a moth to a flame. It’s a modern addiction and a hard habit to break for long. I can easily recall the days before I owned a pc, iPad and mobile phone. I would work for anything up to 12 hours a day in blissfully ignorance of texts, emails, memes, gifs, spiritual life quotes, YouTube videos and pictures of drinks.

Only when I’m painting do I feel truly free from the pressures of social interaction, psychological torments and the rigours of life generally.  I get into alternative worlds and find my peace there.

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good memories from this palette.

Torture and flapjack

Normally at this time of year, I’d give you a full fat review of my summer but due to setting up and being responsible for grown up/ baby premises, I didn’t have a holiday this year, just the odd day out in the North so here is the diet review starting at:  Chillingham Castle, Northumberland.

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The inner courtyard at Chillingham, King Edward I once stayed here.

This marvellously eccentric fortress and family home to Sir Humphry Wakefield, yielded a wealth of fascinating objects that filled every square inch of castle, including a macabre array of medieval torture contraptions. This grisly collection included an iron maiden and a barrel lined with spikes (for rolling witches down hills) and also an horrific looking device for crushing hands complete with a pair of marigolds thoughtfully squeezed between the rollers to help us imagine flattened medieval fingers.  On closer inspection, my suspicions were aroused:

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This is not an instrument of torture - it is a mangle to wring your clothes.

(Nice try, Chillingham).

I could go on about the genuinely fascinating exhibits of the castle and how it is allegedly the most haunted building in England but let’s cut to the chase: the obligatory visit to the museum café.

I ordered a hearty bowl of vegetable salt with a bit of soup in it and a cheese scone which, despite the three pats of butter provided, was similar in texture and flavour to a ball of hamster bedding.  As I lovingly choked it down, I was able to marvel at the world’s largest prehistoric elk antlers. Nothing was spoiled by the almost hilarious food and I had a splendid day.

Next stop: The Bowes Museum, County Durham

thebowesmuseum

Contains mostly French paintings, ceramics, furniture and silver things in magnificent rooms.

By arriving late in the day I feel the best cake boat was missed but there was an acceptable flapjack, in fact it would have been a relatively faultless cafe experience had I not upset the applecart by foolishly attempting to select a bottle of lemonade from the counter top.  Abruptly halted by the palm of a hand, a panicked waitress yelled “DON’T TOUCH THESE, THEY ARE DISPLAY ONLY!” Happily, this did not interfere with the pleasure of seeing the famous mechanical swan and a superb collection of historic clothing. Bowes is well worth a visit.

A few little updates

For those who have very kindly followed my mother’s progress through her dementia, Sheila has arrived in the final stage of the disease. Immobile now for almost 12 months and without memory, language or sight, I spend time with her every week.  It hurts constantly but she still has the ability to offer the most lovable smile I know. She doesn’t understand how bittersweet it is to see; I just hope that it means she still feels the sensation of something good.

My mother sits on my shoulder and reminds me that I still have work to do so I’m beavering away on a new collection of paintings and unbelievably I’m still on track for an exhibition in late Spring. All being well, I’ll notify you of the date in the new year.

In the meantime, if you are in the North Tyneside region, do please call into Jam. There will always be some of my own artwork on display and, right now, some pieces by Jacquie Boyd and Anthony Marshall. I personally collect the work of both and am delighted to show their art to you.

(I will shortly add a page on this website showing the full works of exhibiting guest artists at Jam)

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'Doing the one'  mixed media on canvas by Anthony Marshall.

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'The view'  acryllic on canvas by Jacquie Boyd

super aren't they?

Have a crispy autumn,

love,

Sarah-Jane

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