This exhibition is held jointly by my husband Martin and me, in our airy garden studio which doubles up as our garden shed. Garden tools and paraphernalia have temporarily been laid aside for the show. My pieces are small and medium sized paintings and drawings mainly of cacti, succulents, birds and snakes. The work, a culmination of the past two and a half years, is in oils, acrylic, watercolour and mixed-media on a variety of surfaces from canvas and panel to card and paper. Some pieces veer towards abstraction but most have recognisably figurative subjects. There are pieces with simple bold forms and bright colours exploring gardens in Los Angeles and others with a more subdued palette taking inspiration from our local Oxfordshire neighbourhood.
Since childhood art has been an important part of my life which over the years has brought me solace and a means of escape from reality taking me on journeys of discovery. Although sometimes the journey is a bit of a bumpy ride, I can’t imagine life without art. My aims are to express feeling and sensation through my work and to produce bold, direct, even child-like or comic pieces.
Having reached the end of an enjoyable teaching career in 2018, my husband and I used our new found freedom to travel more widely. Our trip to Los Angeles in 2018 introduced me to Marina Del Rey, Venice and Santa Monica. I was fascinated by all the very ordinary but unfamiliar things in the streets of these neighbourhoods such as the road markings, the grid layout, and the bright, bright light, but perhaps most of all by the plants tumbling over the “sidewalks” . These things became the starting point for many pieces contrasting the geometry of the city with the natural forms of the fabulous succulents and cacti which previously I had admired in botanic garden greenhouses. The work tries to capture light, colour and form and to create a relationship between the natural and artificial, the organic and the geometric.
In contrast the bird and snake pieces are from 2020 in my “ neighbourhood” of rural Oxfordshire. The birds are the nervous jackdaws that pulled thatch from my neighbour’s newly re-thatched roof until persuaded to change their bad habit. These pieces have more earthy colours to reflect the softer light. The snake motif resulted from a visit to our back garden by a hungry grass snake which we spotted devouring an unfortunate frog. The rhythm of snake movement, camouflage and the game of snakes and ladders with its winners and losers, is developed in these pieces.