Sara Hayward120827 coincidences


water colour study from my sketch book

water colour study from my sketch book

Well, what a summer. I was really thrilled to be in Worcester Cathedral to see the Queen in July. The cathedral was packed with well wishers including 340 school children representing all the county’s primary schools. I chatted to one young pair sitting in front of me only to find that they were from my very own primary school- St Andrews, Barnt Green- where I had once won the slow bicycle race ( just think if it had been an Olympic sport…….) The familiar green school uniform hadn’t changed in forty years.

We enjoyed two red hot magical weeks in St Ives later where  I enjoyed being tossed around in the surf as I failed  miserably at body boarding on Porthmeor beach (not for want of trying). The Alex Katz exhibition at Tate St Ives won us over because of his great selection of works on display by artists he admired. We particularly liked the  Franz Kline and a large scale dymnamic Howard Hodgkin, and listening to the video of Alex Katz talk about the works. A small intimate selection of letters and paintings by Ben Nicholson, Alfred Wallis and Winifred Nicholson was also inspiring particularly since Ernie Rowe, the 86 year old Cornish owner of the kennels where our dog was staying, regaled us with revealing stories about Alfred, a distant relative of his.
Right now I am having a bit of a clear out. I’ve just come across my Royal College of Art ID from 1986 and that of Paul for an international driving licence from the year I met him – 1982. Needless to say we’ve both changed to look at somewhat but to have been together for 30 years, more than half my life, and married for 24, feels pretty amazing.

I bumped into Simon Packard recently – he has a great exhibition of prints in the Chapter House at Worcester Cathedral at the moment. He barely recognised me from our time at the RCA and I’d have to say ditto ( he’s a whole lot hairier) but it was great to catch up again after 25 years and meet his two young children, Macey and Blythe.

We were down in Portsmouth recently and down an alley (long story) stumbled across the studio, a blacksmith studio, of Peter Clutterbuck who was a third year sculpture student when Paul was in the first year of his fine art degree at Portsmouth. He was amazed to find a blacksmith’s yard right in the centre of Portsmouth and left his calling card so hopefully the two will be in touch again.

Whilst we were having a coffee in the Hot Walls cafe in Old Portsmouth we were photographed by the Portsmouth News photographer Mick Young and appeared in the local paper. The cafe had opened that day and were offering delicious free pastries to all the customers. We chatted at length to Mick because he too had studied fine art (at Manchester) and was interested to hear about Paul’s experiences of his time in Portsmouth.


treading on eggshells….

What do James Abbot McNeill Whistler, Jacques-Auguste- Dominique Ingres, Vincent Van Gogh, Piet Mondrian, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Sir Francis Gran, Edward Hopper, Robert Rauschenberg, Morandi and Ben Nicholson and Eastman Johnson all have in common apart from their splendid names and most being American?  Well, they were all artists who created predominantly white paintings at some time in their artistic careers.

There are probably thousands of other good examples too.  I’ve just  looked at these artists prior to giving a  Painting in White crit this Thursday for Kidderminster Art Society; a fixture that has been in the diary for many years and to which only now am I giving serious thought. What will they have produced, I wonder, what will I think, and more importantly – what will I say?  I’ll tell you on Friday. I am really looking forward it; lots of white on white surprises. Naturally I shall be my diplomatic self; aware that constructive criticism is the key.

Have I ever used white only? Well, I once produced a series of very subtle embossed portraits of Worcester Porcelain jugs and teapots. From the other side of the gallery there was barely anything to see but take a step closer and the shallow shadows revealed the exquisite profiles of the Worcester pots. My pen and ink drawings of the collection had been transposd into a completely different medium: embossing. They were produced on pre-dampened Somerset  paper and were created on my Harry Rochat press using plastic templates I had cut by hand. Quiet and understated they mirrored Royal Worcester’s  unpainted and unglazed white ware. Quietly beautiful, they were understated, clean.

I could quite happily paint a white painting; a simple still life with paper creased and gentle touch.

A thousand shades of white. Imagine sunshine on snow, light flickering over egg shells, dazzling a virgin bride. Brilliant yet  pale -illuminated from within; shadows cast.

St. Ives – sun, sea, sand and….. more sand….. everywhere….

Down on the coast gravity takes on new meaning; the usual doesn’t occur and the unusual is a regular occurence.

What am I on about? Sand of course. Coastal sand is ocean washed, golden and clean, and should remain safely on the beach where it belongs; but to the occasional visitor it behaves differently, has a mind of its own and gets everywhere and into everything; kicked up by feet, the wind, the rushing sea it flicks up into every conceivable nook and cranny; I found it in my clothes, my bag,  my hair, my ears, even after a near vertical climb “home” it defied gravity and ended up on the sofa, the rug, the carpet, the mattress of our apartment. Even the winter Olympics got a bucketful. Ah well, c’est la vie, and at least I wasn’t cleaning up at the end of our visit.

The walks in the wintry sunshine along Porthminster, Porthmeor and Porthqwidden beaches of St Ives were fantastic if not hairy (with our lurcher dog running along side us, I might not have let him off so quickly had I known there would be so many bitches on heat; do they all “come on” together I wonder. A regular en masse half term doggy menstruation? Let’s hope we don’t leave a plethora of little lurchers behind.) It was good so early in the new year to touch base with the sea, to run wild and play games, tread the same beach that Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson trod.

The sea did everything it should, it sparkled, it glistened turquoise, it came in, it went out; it was in the air too making my hair thick and salty. The beaches were coated in the fresh tidal deposits of seaweed, shells and the odd trainer; they were mostly litter free, and pleasingly empty.  Brisk walks were the menu of the day; heartily filling and great value. We’d sit supping our cappucinos on hotel terraces until the low sun disappeared over the horizon and we retreated back to the warmth of our hidihole. We could not grumble since we had achieved our objective – blown away the winter cobwebs, breathed in fresh sea air and – most importantly –  seen no snow. Our little red noses concealed a healthy tan, proof of an outdoor existance – even though the rest of our bodies remained deathly pale. We were out to play when we should have been in; over running playtime, like a bunch of naughty school kids.

With rumours of bad snow up north and Cornish daffs peeping above ground, it was both hard and easy to imagine Spring fast approaching. Just as it was a bit of a surprise to find grains of sand on my pillow every morning, sand, like Spring, gets everywhere eventually.