Henry Sandon MBE portrait unveiled

Henry Sandon final

Henry Sandon MBE by Sara Hayward MA(RCA) , oil on canvas, 60″ x 40″, Museum of Royal Worcester 

“I think it’s fabulous. It makes me look happy which is what I always am. I’m delighted with it,” said Henry, 29th August 2014. 

Visitors to the Museum of Royal Worcester can now see my portrait of Henry Sandon hanging upstairs near the twentieth century gallery. BBC Midlands Today recorded the occasion as the portrait was officially unveiled with plenty of style and ceremony by Cynthia Crawford MBE in the museum last Friday. Painted between March and June this year it is is the first to be completed of two portraits I started of Henry. I am hoping – if Henry is willing – to complete the second portrait of Henry holding a Royal Worcester pot- in the autumn, with a view to showing it elsewhere.

Henry is not only a great character but also an affable raconteur and it was wonderful to hear tales of his growing up in London and his career at Worcester Porcelain. Outside builders and cranes on Severn Street kept us entertained as did visitors to the museum coming into our temporary studio who were clearly very excited to have stumbled across their Antiques Road Show hero. Henry is a national treasure, giving generously of his time to charities and institutions; multi talented, larger than life, a gentleman to the core, he is joyous; I wanted to capture something of his great integrity and also sense of humour. A friend said to me, “Make sure you capture the twinkle in his eye!” and I hope I have. Notice the distinctive teapot tie and his laughter lines. My inspiration for the painting were paintings by Bonnard; inspired by his use of  heightened colour and vibrant mark making. 

My thanks go to to the museum for the commission; I hope it does Henry justice. Henry likes the portrait, his family like it, the museum like it and so far so do the visitors. I hope you like it too. Pop in and see it if you can! It’s a gem of a museum and well worth visiting.

Museum of Royal Worcester, Severn Street, Worcester Open Monday to Saturday, March to October 10am – 5pm November to February 10am – 4pm  


Snow & Smocking Day 5


water colour study from my sketch book

water colour study from my sketch book

February 11th 2013

Woke up to snow- roads chaotic and missed my train. Was dropped off at Shrub Hill to hear my train had been cancelled but would be going form Foregate Street. Guard said I might just make it (in hindsight I think he thought I was in a car) so I ran from Shrub Hill to Foregate Street, leaping up the stairs two at a time just as the whistle blew and blow me! they wouldn’t let me on. I had to wait an hour for the next train which turned out to be recovery time in the hotel over the road. Finally at Winterbourne I drew an elevated view point of the garden from the window, an Edwardian smocked dress in the nursery and Nina’s teenage well worn leather boots similar to a pair I used to have (“strong boots for sculpture”). Also began an oil painting in dark under drawing of burnt umber. Incidentally Rymans were happy to sell me a blackboard – to write when I’m next in – but had no chalk!  Museum was very quiet because of the snow. This drawing approach with vertical emphasis is influencing my painting approach. Asparagus cup a soup at lunch time was certainly not homegrown but very welcome on a bitter cold day all the same. I’m not adding any Liquin to the oil  in order to retain brush marks and I think I prefer it. Chatted to two young ladies from Holland; one so fluent that she sounded English (when I asked her if she was English she said her mother would be delighted). Tried to capture the view from the hobbies’ room on my mini video only to find the card was full so used a trusty pencil instead. Then on to a private view at Worcester Cathedral to write a review of work of Dan Roach’s work. I like the time between four and five most when all the visitors have gone.

120602 open studio today

We have open studio this weekend June 1-4th 2012 so if you live in and around Worcestershire come & visit our studios in the city of Worcester. We have over 100 paintings & prints on display including my new regal portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.  What better way to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee than with an arts trail showcasing and celebrating  the creative talent of Worcestershire. Over 40 other artist/designer studios are open this weekend so do take a look at the Worcestershire Arts Trail website for further details: http://www.worcsartstrail.org. We’ve had visitors come on foot, on bicycles and some have driven but whatever your means of transport this Jubilee weekend you’ll be assured of a warm welcome. All donations from cups of tea sold go to The Childrens Society. Please feel free to share this with others to ensure Jubilee Weekend is an out and out success. Cheers!

120420 new blog launch

I am finding inks a very fast and immediate way of working; handy if you’re short of time and need quick results. I like the combination of line and wash and in the drawing on the left I worked over an old drawing hence the added richness; a good way to recycle old works. If you double click on the drawing you can just about make out the scalloped edge of an Earl of Coventry Royal Worcester Porcelain piece. As always I started slightly out of control with my left hand then continue adding in finer detail with my right hand.

I have also started a new blog; weareworcester.wordpress.com about the people of Worcester.  It involves an interview where the same set of questions are asked of people; eg what do you most like about Worcester, which living person do you most admire and why. The answers are really interesting and I hope the participants and online readers will find it revealing also. It helps us understand one another. The questions are inspired by a similar interview I read each week in Saturday’s Guardian magazine and are normally answered by celebrities; in the case of my blog the common denominator is that all the interviewees are from the Worcester area, and hopefully eventually from Worcesters further afield. Long term I’d like to open it up o the people of Worcester, Masachusetts, USA, and Worcester, South Africa (where incidentally the author J.M.Coetzee hailed  from). I hope to interview people from all walks of life, young and old, male and female. If you’re interested in participating and are from Worcester(shire) please get in touch via the blog or email. I’d love to hear from you.

120414 The Hive

Today was a chance to step inside Worcester’s new Golden Hive for the very first time. It is a state of the art new library bang in the middle of the city where University students and the public will be welcomed equally and which will have an amazing new childrens’ library. Apparently. It opens in July and I can’t wait. It was a great opportunity to don my silly hat and read my childrens’ picture book, “My Magic Stick,” to a bijoux audience along with others from Worcester Writers’ Circle. My daughter was sitting in the audience on the front row and I truly appreciate the fact that she and her friend didn’t walk out. Thank you Sweetie, I’ll pay you later. 

An hour later I was on level one preparing to run a picture book making workshop in an orange pod with a yellow pod full of children on one side and a terracotta pod full of children tunnelling through story cubes on the other. Wow! Stereophonic children I thought. Imagine the surprise of my life when the workshop participants turned up and weren’t the seriouslyinterestedinwritingmyownpicturebookthankyouverymuch adults I’d envisaged and planned for but……….. more little people! So now I had quadrophonic children. Delightful! Suffice to say their ideas were far better than mine, their drawings far fresher and better, their natural marriage of pictures and text so brilliant and effortlessly created that I could easily have packed up and left them to it asking Walker Books to come on in and publish the lot. They really were that good. Each wonderful child left with their very own unique and original zig zag picture book. Well done kids! You should be running the country with creative ideas like that! And as for me I left feeling well and truly knackered but well and truly inspired which has to be THE best feeling.

Accommodation available

Our Two Contemporary Apartments are now available

* Ideal for visitors looking for a quiet stay in the heart of Worcester, UK

* Architect designed accommodation

* Private, tranquil location  * Situated in large garden

* Easily accessible * Ideal base to explore Worcestershire

Four Seasons, (74) Battenhall Avenue,

Worcester, WR5 2HW


(01905) 357563

110702 missing out

Twice this week I’ve been wrong footed. I was up at the Barber Institute on Tuesday delivering paintings for submission to the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2011 and ambled upstairs to see the exhibition Court on Canvas.  At the top of the stairs I turned left into the exhibition and had a quick look but wasn’t overly impressed. There were black and white photographs of Billie-Jean King, a cheeky tennis poster (you know the one), a range of tennis rackets from throughout the ages, a case full of art deco jewellery featuring tennis motifs etc etc. All well and good but nothing exactly scintillating. So I continued on into the permanent collection, mildly disappointed, enjoying the Howard Hodgkin as always, revisiting the Vuillard, the Bonnard, Sickert, and onto my Frans Hals and Bellini favourites. I paused for a moment to listen to various excellent explanations of paintings to a school party by a young museum officer before turning right into the final room and catching the train home. Imagine my surprise therefore when I found THIS was the main room of superb, fantactic tennis paintings and prints featuring works by Eric Gill, Edward Ravilious, Percy Shakespeare, Paul Nash, Sir John Lavery, Stanley Spencer and E.H.Shephard. I was gobsmacked and spellbound, in equal measures; it’s an ace exhibition and well worth seeing. But nearly missed it.

Blow me if a similar thing didn’t happen yesterday! I met a dear friend at Compton Verney near Stratford to take in the current Stanley Spencer and the English Garden exhibition. We did a couple of rooms of garden paintings before finishing off in the final room to watch the film about his life and career. This film had originally come out in the late 70s when we had both seen the Stanley Spencer exhibition at the Royal Academy as part of our O-level studies. It was quite a long film and what with the wooden floors, visiting school parties, and open plan nature of the gallery adversely affecting the accoustics, barely audible at times. We both stuck it out however and by the end were ready to go for lunch rating the experience overall as very good but not fantastic. As we walked back through the galleries we suddenly spotted a small sign on a door saying ‘exhibition continues’. This only turned out to be the entrance to the main exhibition which we had very nearly missed: two massive rooms of far more major works than those in the previous rooms.

Later I popped into the RSC theatre to see the current Folio exhibition- a response to Shakespeare by staff and student printmakers at the RCA; prints by Norman Ackroyd, Alistair Grant (my old tutor), Joe Tilson, Elizabeth Frink and many others. It was a lovely exhibition and well worth seeing. On the two and a half hour train journey from Worcester to Stratford first thing I had got talking to two ladies about their day trip to Stratford. What are you going to do there, I asked casually. Go on the river, they replied. Well, you could always go into the theatre, I suggested. There followed a pregnant pause. Why would we want to do that? they asked in unison. Well, because it’s the home of Shakespeare theatre, they’ve just spent a trillion pounds rebuilding it, you can get a cup of tea, visit the gift shop, see an exhibition, it’s the RSC’s 50th birthday, lots of reasons, blah, blah, blah, but I suspect my well meaning suggestions were falling on deaf ears.