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Day 1: Artist Residency at The Hide

Updated: Mar 28

Day 1

Monday 25th March

Left: Charcoal still life of flowers

Middle: Living space at The Hide

Right: Holly arriving at The Hide (taken by Dan)

Dan and I arrive at a wooden-clad bungalow down a country lane to a generous welcome from Alice and Piers. They show us around the space with wide panoramic windows looking out across the valley. Dan and I carry in my supplies for the week - namely numerous packets of microwaveable rice, snap peas and an Om bar Dan was already eyeing up. We have a cup of rooibos in the sitting room, sitting on matching olive velvet chairs, eagerly peering out at the allotments (still bedded down for winter) and the orchard with its harsh winter trim and vibrant green buds just sprouting. Dan takes a photo of me standing at the desk with the view unfolding behind me. With excited trepidation, I kiss him goodbye.

I set about unpacking all my belongings, marveling at the mid-century furniture, original artworks and spaciousness. I lay some of my art materials out on the long window ledge. On the desk I unroll my carefully selected brushes, water jars, sumi ink, charcoal and Chinese bamboo brush I’ve yet to use.

I gather the flowers I’ve brought from the florist in Hanham. I cut the stems of lilac anemones, violet iris, pussy willow and birch twigs. I’d also got some cerise and tangerine tulips, which fit delicately in a white milk jug that was holding cutlery in the kitchen. I place the tulips on a coffee table and the anemones and iris in a jug I grabbed out of the studio before I left. I sketch the arrangement loosely in charcoal, creating some shadow smudges on the petals and pussy willow pom-poms with a press of my fingertips.

I head out onto the common in the late afternoon, just as the sun glimmers through the clouds. The winds whip against my raincoat. I follow my feet up and over the expanse of protected land, stopping at knowles here and there. The wide grassy expanse is dotted with ancient trees, curled over in the wind like backward-blown umbrellas. They appear like portals, magically rooted in the earth. I climb through the arched branches and settle my hand against the gnarled and twisted trunks. 

Realising I’ve walked onto a 9-hole, I head for cover towards the trees at the outer edge of the common, fearing the impending whistling of a golf ball. I poke at shrunken mushrooms I find in the grass, which release a withering gust of spores, hoping to myself they’re not poisonous. There are cloud-like bushes of blackthorn sprayed in white blossom and bushes of holly, which I greet by stroking a leaf in its silky centre between my forefinger and thumb. The woodland is alive with vibrant tongues of wild garlic, so I pick a few leaves to take home for dinner too.

Home with pockets of foraged delights; a brown curled holly leaf, windswept twigs from a fallen tree, and a branch of guilty blossom that I twisted from the bush. Rice and beans with tomato salsa for dinner and I finished the Garden Museum Journal no.35 (Spring 2018) documenting Charlotte Verity’s moving paintings of Ronald Blythe’s garden. Only one of the windows has a blind, which I draw. I look out at the inky darkness, seeing my reflection on the couch, knowing the garden is there waiting for me tomorrow.


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