Monday, 26 September 2016

The Golden Eye

Couldn't resist popping back to see the Hare and problem solving. Turning his head into the mechanics of a clock is no easy business, but I wanted to tackle it. It did mean standing on the bench in order to get a better view of the head. I made a few decisions regarding the eyes and nose. Whenever we look at an eye, there is always a reflection in it, so I wanted the hare's eyes to reflect the history, so I decided on a silhouette of a mill building. Instead of the original blue idea, I have opened for a gold to match his gold buttons and collar. The robin popped back for a visit as did my younger two children, who were content to do a trail in the museum while their mother worked. Another decision I made was to add a gold button to the hare's nose, which will have a red thread running through and then continue as a running stitch to make his mouth. This will of course reflect the scarlet red jacket and the threads relating to the textile industry.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

A litte red breast visits Scarlet Red Hare

Day two in my outdoor studio and after sanding down the white coat I applied to the Hare's head yesterday, I reapplied with new paint. As it is acrylic it dries quickly so I was able to start drawing in the mechanics of the clock, and begin bringing the eyes to life. Found it hard stopping flies from sticking to the white paint though! One lovely visitor made my day - an enchanting little robin, who also hopped along yesterday. Unafraid of the rather enormous white statue staring at him, the robin kept reappearing during the time I was there. I thought it was rather amusing that a little red-breasted fellow should come and see the hare that once finished will also have a red breast! My youngster daughters also visited me and Rosie, brought along her own rabbit to meet the hare!

Friday, 23 September 2016

First day of residency - a bit hare raising!

Making the first mark on a piece of paper, canvas or a page in a book is always the hardest. We all don't want to make a mistake, but sometimes you just have to go for it. And so despite a little trepidation of facing my whopper of a hopper, I embraced the challenge and started tackling his head. Well it is a case of coming head to head with a hare quite literally. And the hare's met his match. I may be a slighter version of this five foot animal, but I won't let his hefty size put me off - even if I have to stand on tip toe to reach his turned-up nose! Things are never plain sailing though are they - I soon realised that my System 3 Titanium White was not as fresh as I thought it was and my smooth brush strokes were far from smooth. It meant a walk to Stroud to buy a brand new tube and a commitment to sandpaper the first coat and start again tomorrow. Still, I was able to draw out the jacket and start painting his yellow ears. There are some tricky places to get to and even tiny hands like mine can't quite hit the spot. I think the hare might need to be tilted up to reach the bits I can't get to!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Hare Removal Day

Today I met my hare eye to eye, for this fibreglass three dimensional hopper is as tall as I am. He is indeed a whopping hopper. My husband Rog kindly helped me transport Stroud's very own hare from Cotswold Hare festival director Florence Beetlestone's cottage to the Museum in the Park, where he will stay until the festival at least. Over the next few weeks I will begin transforming his white coat into a multi-coloured one to celebrate Stroud's wonderful history. Here are a few photos to get an idea of scale and where the Scarlet Red Hare will live.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Drawing up a plan

Having lived in Stroud and worked here as a reporter for almost 30 years, I am familiar with the town's history. Last year I wrote about some of the former mills, detailing what they once were and what they are now, which was published in Cotswold Life. This illustration went alongside it in Lowry style.
And this is a map of Stroud which encapsulates both the colours, the character and the history of the five valleys, again an illustration published in Cotswold Life.
I also did a number of drawings for a colouring book for Stroud's Museum in the Park to celebrate 15 years of it being based at Stratford Park. I enjoyed drawing the lines of the clock which is the museum foyer and wanted to use this for the hare's head.
So bringing all these things together helped me concentrate on red, green, blue and yellows; and the clock and cloth theme. My design therefore ended up like this:
This is the two-dimensional design, the challenge now is to translate this onto a three-dimensional shape that is as tall as I am!

Friday, 16 September 2016

It starts with drawing

As the Stroud hare will be based in the Museum in the Park for a few months, the best place to research about the town's history is in the Museum itself. So with sketchbook in hand, I went in search for those all important ideas. With the hare's shape in mind, I came up with a few clues and themes. This first was one of the striking soldier's uniform in the very room which used to be my grandparent's bedroom. It is made using the Stroud Scarlet cloth which is still made at Lodgemore Mills by WSP Textiles Ltd. In the height of the textile industry, Stroud was one of the leading cloth manufacturers. There used to be around 150 mills in the Stroud district - collectively known as the Strong of Pearls. WSP is one of the only mills still in operation as it was then. Cloth for tennis balls and billiard tables is still produced and it is this history I want to illustrate. Years ago red cloth could be seen drying out in fields.
The other fascinating piece of history relating to Stroud is TIME. Before Greenwich Meantime, Stroud's clocks were set nine minutes behind London and was known as TOWN TIME. There is also a clock in the Museum which goes backwards which I feel reflects what we all do when we look at our history or indeed run or walk along the canal where the mill buildings can be seen. We all go back in time when we study our ancestors or the way life was. Another reference to time refers to W.H Davies, known as the tramp poet who wrote the famous poem: "What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare." I want those who look at the Stroud hare to stop and stare and realise what a wonderful heritage we have in the five valleys.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Introducing the Cotswold Hare Festival 2017

For the past three years Cirencester Hare Festival has involved artists collaborating with sponsoring businesses to decorate numerous five foot hares which have then been located in various parts of the town for people to find. This year however other towns in the Cotswolds have got on board and in March 2017 The Cotswold Hare Trail will be launched consisting of 50 five foot hares which will be scattered all over the Cotswolds. Having put myself forward as an artist, I had no idea that the Museum in the Park friends had agreed to sponsor one, so it was both a privilege and a delight to accept the challenge of creating a hare especially for my home town of Stroud. What is equally precious to me, is not only have I been writing about Stroud and its people for almost 30 years, my mum Jan grew up in the Stratford Park's Mansion House which is now the Museum in the Park. My grandfather George Ham moved to the house from Epsom in Surrey, with my grandmother Kitty, when he took on the role as park groundsman in 1947. My mum was three and she lived in the park mansion house until she was 13. It was whilst he was looking after the park's bowling green, that George discovered that he was good at bowls. He ended up playing for England. THE CHALLENGE The theme of the 2017 Cotswold Hare Trail is history, and therefore every hare has to reflect the history of the town it will be situated in. Mine of course will reflect Stroud's history. But first let me introduce you to the moon-gazing hare I will illustrate. She is five foot high. Now baring in mind that is my height exactly, I will be gazing at her eye to eye for a few weeks while I decorate her.
In order to work, I chatted to Museum staff as to the best place to put the hare. The "cottage" next to the museum seemed to be the ideal place as it was enclosed and although still exposed to the elements, it is covered so at least me and the hare won't get too wet in heavy rain or snow!