Thai orchid festival – Mothers Day celebrations at Kew gardens

‘If mothers were flowers, you would be the one I would pick.’

Here is a work in progress oil painting, inspired by the tropical orchids on display at the recent Thai orchid festival at Kew Gardens. The flowers were reaching towards the stream beneath the glasshouse bridge and I wanted to evoke the sense of tranquillity, where you felt almost as if you had arrived in an island oasis:

From 10 February to 11 March 2018, The Princess of Wales glasshouse at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, was transformed into a tropical oasis, transporting visitors to the floral shores of Thailand in an extravagant celebration of its culture and botanical heritage.

My family and I attended the last weekend of the 23rd orchid festival at Kew for Mother’s Day. It was a feast for the senses, with over 4,000 Phalaenopsis (moth) orchids arrayed in  beautiful centrepieces, or seemingly ‘growing wild,’ either lining the paths or intertwining around trees. Their sweet fragrance infused the atmosphere and colour abounded, with hues of purple, pink, red, orange, yellow, green at every turn. Traditional Thai music was performed live in one area of the glasshouse, with the sound permeating through the garden, enhancing the immersive experience. The variety of tropical orchids and plants on display was breathtaking and a delight for every visitor and particularly every mother visiting the glasshouse on this special day.

Sculptures hewn from flora and fauna appeared at different intersections of the garden and a forest of mangroves lined areas of the path and stream. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a cocoa tree that was native to Thailand, and to learn that cocoa butter is often squeezed from its seeds. Incredibly, miniature rice paddy fields were also successfully cultivated in the glasshouse.

The main attraction of the orchid garden was the floating Palace centrepiece, measuring at 16.5ft x 13ft and intended to be a replica of Bang Pa In Palace in Thailand. 600 orchids adorned the sculpture, representing the rich diversity of their flora. The Royal Thai Embassy in London also generously lent a number of Thai crafted parasols to Kew for the festival.

Kew Gardens has worked alongside the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for many years, focusing on mutually beneficial projects that include the study and conservation of Thailand’s rich variety of flora and fauna. Their relationship was formalised in 2010, through a signing orchestrated by Kew scientist Dave Simpson.

Phalaenopsis orchid species are native to tropical Asian countries, including Thailand, Borneo, Java and the Philippines. However for this display at Kew, they were actually grown at Double H nurseries in New Milton in the South of England.

The Cymbidian orchids at the glasshouse were also British grown in East Sussex, supplied by McBean’s Orchids and are on regular display at Kew’s annual orchid festivals.

Surprisingly, several orchid varieties do grow wild in Britain’s temperate climate, see when and where you can spot nine species here. You can also learn how to grow them successfully with this horticulturalists guide.

A Tropical Paradise in the depths of winter – Butterfly conservation at RHS Wisley

‘You are altogether beautiful my love, there is no flaw in you.’ Song of Songs

Each winter the Glasshouse at RHS Wisley transforms, almost dreamlike, into a tropical paradise. Its 28 degree heat serves as a haven to over 7,000 butterflies that have travelled (with a little help from humans) thousands of miles to help educate wildlife enthusiasts of all ages on exotic butterflies, butterfly conservation and their importance to the environment.

Bred on a farm in Belize, Central America, these butterflies originate from tropical climes in the Americas and Asia, where the lofty heights of the rainforest canopy is their natural habitat. The farm is invaluable to conserving butterflies, where 15,000 caterpillars are looked after at a time and many released back into the wild. The owners, who live in the UK, are also owners of Stratford Butterfly Farm in Stratford- Upon-Avon.

Aside from the rainforest oasis, visitors can experience an interactive zone where they can watch the lifecyle of a butterfly and get a rare close up view of their wings. Visitors can learn about their behaviour, such as courtship, feeding and egg laying as well as how they differ to moths.

Butterflies are ectothermic (cold blooded) and constantly seek the warmth of the sun, so the best place to find these dainty winged insects were the pools of sunlight on the paths around the glasshouse. Seeing the butterflies dance around the trees and alight nearby never fails to bring a smile to all the . The food table was another area guaranteed to host several butterflies, and often the best place to have a better view of their beautiful wings.

With so many  unusual and non native species, there is a handy guide which helps identify the different species. 

This white, yellow and black beauty is a Tree Nymph, native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, India, Sri Lanka and other areas of Southeast Asia. Their delicate flight patterns and black and white coloration distinguish them from others. Tree Nymphs usually live high in the forest canopy but descend to ground level for nectar and mating. According to Garden Guides, these butterflies can thrive in altitudes up to 5,000ft and below to 2,000ft. Many tree nymphs secrete a chemical substance known as ‘danadoine,’ which is a deterrent to predators and makes them unpalatable.

Their wings reminded me of stained glass, which seemed to glow with the sun’s rays through the windows.

Although we are unlikely to see exotic butterflies like the Tree Nymph in our temperate climate, many native butterfly species are endangered and need our protection.  

I regularly contribute a painting to the Environment Trust’s Secret Art Sale to promote wildlife conservation in the UK. Last year, the theme was ‘wildlife corridors,’ its definition recorded in my blog:

These corridors, aptly named ‘natures highways and byways’ by the RSPB, are integral to the maintenance of ecological processes, including allowing for the movement of animals and the continuation of wildlife populations.

These corridors, formed out of hedges, flora and fauna, are indispensable not only for butterflies, but also for hedgehogs, frogs, toads, newts, bees, dragonflies, creepy crawlies, moths, bats, birds, badgers and foxes. Wildlife, such as insects and butterflies, are crucial to the general health of the ecosystem and maintaining the natural balance and their decline in numbers usually reflect a decline in the health of the environment and are often indicators of pollution etc.

Insects like Butterflies are necessary to pollinate flowers,  and are especially attracted to certain plants and flowers such as lavender in order to thrive. The RHS have compiled a guide on how to attract native species, including planting brightly coloured buddleias.

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Butterfly Conservation society, with Conservation Day being held on 10 March before Mother’s Day. To celebrate this landmark year, the charity are holding conservation events around the UK to give you the opportunity to get involved in the effort to protect over 100 endangered species.

Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, has urged everyone to take action to help reverse the decline of our butterflies; sadly their habitats have shrunk significantly over the years due to climate change, pesticide use and other factors. You don’t need to have specialist knowledge to become a butterfly conservator or naturalist, you can simply help plant a meadow or develop your own garden into a butterfly and wildlife haven. Whichever you choose, it will be an invaluable contribution to our environment and to ensure future generations can continue to enjoy the diverse species in our gardens and wild areas.

Here is one of our native beauties which I immortalised in oil paint in 2017: a perfectly formed Peacock butterfly and a regular visitor to our garden:

Happy conserving!

Architectural Digest Design Show – 22-25 March, New York

“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” Frank Gehry

I’m delighted to be returning to my architectural and design roots by participating in the Architectural Digest Design Show in New York, on 22-25 March 2018.

Around 40,000 design professionals, creative entrepreneurs and connoiseurs are expected to descend upon Piers 92 and 94 on 55th Street, Twelfth Avenue, Manhattan. 400 luxury designers, brands, and several artists (!) will gather for the 17th year of North America’s premier design festival. There will be talks and workshops to tantalise your design tastebuds, including culinary classes; the forthcoming program of trade seminars will be available at the end of February.

My oil paintings and drawings will be on display with Art UpClose and Artifact in booth 519. Other artists exhibiting include seascape painter Margot Nimoroski and award winning British sculptor, David Harber .

I have often emphasised in my blog posts on the importance of a personal connection to interior design and art. Chosen carefully and sensitively, furniture and design accessories are arguably elevated to the status of art when placed in an interior setting. Indeed their very design, often unique and sometimes bespoke, reflects a particular artistic vision and narrative of the designer. As I pointed out in my previous blog, ‘Home is where the Art is:’

“Without art, design is merely function. Both art and design are means of communication, and both can elicit an emotional response.”

You can be certain to find inspiration from the many furniture makers, artisans, lighting designers, and accessory brands that will be exhibiting at the Design Show. Whether it’s choosing a bespoke table by Attitude Furnishings, ‘baby-soft’ alpaca throws by Alicia Adams, secure iron fences and gates by Compass Iron Security, handmade wooden chairs and tables by Erickson Woodworking, wall art and wall décor by Mitchell Black, lighting by Rayon Roskar, custom flooring by Sunshine Hardwood Floors, or geometric leather rugs by Avo Studio, each lends a statement to your room, whether subtle or obvious.

When combined with paintings and sculpture in an interior setting, furnishings create a visual tapestry of the owner’s personality, interwoven with meaningful elements.

Their intentional design adopts a new meaning and purpose: As Coco Chanel aptly put it, ‘an interior is the natural projection of the soul.’

I love visiting New York, here is a rather iconic building whose name derives from the nickname for the city: ‘Empire State.’ Designed by architect William F. Lamb and completed in 1931 at 1,454 ft high, its 102 floors overlook the vast network and labyrinth of roads and buildings below.

Art that surrounds you, that you can touch, feel and live in, as well as admire from a distance; this is immersive art at its best and most satisfying.

Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci & Raphael about 1500 – High Renaissance art at The National Gallery

‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’ Michelangelo

Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. Three names that, after 500 years, need little introduction to a modern audience. These paragons of the Italian Renaissance are generally credited as figureheads of High Renaissance art, imbuing their works with a psychological astuteness and dynamism, which visually embodied the prevalent resurgent interest in classical ideals after a period of cultural stagnation.

The National Gallery’s recent exhibition, ‘Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael about 1500’ aimed to explore an artistic dialogue that was initially friendly and respectful, but became at times contentious, due to the competitive nature of commissions available in Rome. The exhibition gathered together eight works by the three artists, showcasing how they learnt from, and sometimes ‘borrowed,’ from one another.

Acutely aware of one another’s presence in the social arena, each artist sought to be distinctive in his vision and execution:

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), often described as the ultimate Renaissance Man, achieved mastery in many fields of study, combining both science and art in his craftsmanship. His initial desire was to work as an inventor of military weapons for the Duke of Milan, but was instead commissioned as the official painter for the court and subsequent wealthy patrons. He amassed hundreds of drawings of his ideas, leaving him with little time to paint. As a consequence, we have been left with a few examples of his paintings, most notably ‘The Virgin of the Rocks,’ depicting the Immaculate Conception, and Mona Lisa.

‘The Virgin of the Rocks’ (about 1491) by Leonardo da Vinci:

Michelangelo Buonarrotti (1475–1564) was by his own admission, a sculptor first; he expressed the human figure in marble, reimagining its form in all its powerful and physical dynamism. All his projects were vast and ambitious, placing the human body as central to emotional expression.

Raffaello Santi, or Raphael (1483–1520) embodied the classical ideals of harmony and beauty in both his paintings and even temperament. He drew his own study of Michelangelo’s Taddei Tondo and was initially influenced by Leonardo, yet imbued the face of the Madonna with his own preference for serenity and clarity and was a far more prodigious painter than Leonardo.

The Ansidei Madonna (1505), by Raphael:

The focus of the exhibition was Michelangelo’s ‘The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John,’ also known as the ‘Taddei Tondo’ (1504-5), on loan from the Royal Academy and the only marble sculpture by Michelangelo in the UK.

The psychological immediacy of the sculpture opposed the otherworldly virtues of Leonardo’s painting ‘The Virgin of the Rocks.’ Whereas revelation and relational humanity seems to be Michelangelo’s concern, Leonardo’s appears to be divine worship and reverence, aspiring to the ideals of beauty, similar to the harmonious aspirations of Raphael.

As Matthias Wivel, the National Gallery’s Curator of 16th-century Italian Paintings says: “The ‘Taddei Tondo’ provides a key to understanding Michelangelo’s evolution as an artist, following but also rejecting Leonardo’s example, as well as for the young Raphael’s development of a more expressive, dynamic style in synthesis with what he was simultaneously learning from Leonardo.”

The paintings and drawings on display in total, were: ‘The Virgin and Child with Saint John and Angels (‘The Manchester Madonna’) and The Entombment. Leonardo was represented by The Virgin with the Infant Saint John the Baptist adoring the Christ Child accompanied by an Angel (‘The Virgin of the Rocks’) and The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and the Infant Saint John the Baptist (‘The Burlington House Cartoon’). There were three works by Raphael on display – The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Nicholas of Bari (‘The Ansidei Madonna’), Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and The Madonna of the Pinks (‘La Madonna dei Garofani’).’

This is my sepia pencil study of Michelangelo’s marble depiction of the Christ Child, Jesus; his face, almost cherub-like, emanates innocence and purity.

Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael were men of their time, yet their vision transcended their history and influenced generations of painters, sculptors and art collectors to come.

Once in a Blue Moon – The Super Blue Blood Moon, January 31, 2018

‘When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him?
Psalm 8: 3-5

January 31st 2018 is set to host a rare sight; that of the Super Blue Blood Moon.

For the first time since 1866, there will be a confluence of three astronomical phenomena: A Supermoon, a Blue Moon and a Blood Moon.

A Blue Moon is the second full moon in a full month calendar, however the moon does not, unfortunately, appear blue. The tantalisingly fleeting nature of a Blue Moon has given rise to the phrase ‘Once in a Blue Moon.’ However it is not as rare as is popularly believed  as it tends to appear once every 2 1/2 years, the last one appearing in July 2015. We will also be treated to another glimpse of it on March 31st, 2018.

The term ‘Supermoon’ is a relatively recent word coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and sometimes referred to with some chagrin by astronomers (as astrology is not regarded as a scientific field), who officially describe the phenomena as perigean full moons or perigean new moons (perigee means ‘near Earth’). These ‘larger-than-life’ full moons seem to have been a relatively ubiquitous sight of late, with three sightings in 2017 and one already in January. The moon’s elliptical orbit around the earth means its distance from our planet varies at different points, referred to as the apogee and perigee. Apogee is when the moon is around 30,000 miles or 50,000km farther from the earth than the perigee (also known as ‘proxigee’), when the moon is at its closest proximity to the earth. It is at the perigee point that the moon appears 30% larger and 14% brighter than a typical full moon.

A Blood Moon, or total lunar eclipse, appears when the earth lines up with the sun and its shadow cast on the moon appears red due to the earth’s atmosphere. The UK won’t experience the lunar eclipse as it begins at 10:51am GMT, so unfortunately we will not see the red/orange hue. The full effect of the Blood Moon will only be visible on Earth’s night side and to those in western North America, across the Pacific to eastern Asia. The Super Blue Moon however will make its rare appearance to a UK audience and will be a remarkable sight. Weather permitting, we should have a good view of it at dusk when the moon is lower on the horizon, or at midnight when the moon is at its highest point in the sky. According to Dr Gregory Brown, from the Royal Greenwich Observatory, the best time to view the Super Blue Moon will be at 12.40am on Thursday 1st February.

This oil painting sketch is an attempt at capturing the evanescent and confounding aspects of nature and humanity’s attempts to explain phenomena that are at times inherently unexplainable. I have tried to combine various elements of our current understanding of the moon and in doing so to bring it, hypothetically, down to earth. Here the moon has landed on a distant shore of earth, casting its illuminated light onto the sand with waves lapping around it. The moon’s gravity pulls at our planet and determines the tides but its transformation into a supermoon has real intensified physical effects  on high and low tides. This is a simple study of a not so distant future painting and series of space inspired artwork..

A documentary by BBC One at 9pm on 31st January will delve in more detail into the monthly lifecycle of the moon as it waxes and wanes.

Weather permitting, it will be hard to miss such a rare spectacle by our only natural satellite, particularly when the night is alight by a giant spotlight (apologies for the unintentional rhyming). So don’t forget to look up and enjoy the view, it promises to be a wonder to behold to those who, like myself, are captivated and inspired by nature and the workings of a divine hand. The next spectacular series of Supermoons will return in 2019!

O Christmas Tree – A Scots Pine Winter Wonderland

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer’s here,
But also when ’tis cold and drear.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging!
(From the carol, ‘O Christmas Tree,’ Author unknown)

The annual tradition of putting up a evergreen fir tree in the house, richly adorned with festive decorations, baubles and lights, can be dated back hundreds of years. Although some would argue that the modern Christmas Tree began in the nineteenth century, the first person known to have brought a tree into the home was 16th century German preacher, Martin Luther.

Legend has it that one night he was walking in a forest when he looked up to see the stars shining through the branches. The sight was so beautiful that he told his children it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas. There are other legends and stories of the origins of the Christmas Tree, including St Boniface of Crediton (Devon, England), who saved a young boy’s life from pagan tribes in Germany by cutting down the oak tree where the sacrifice would take place. A young fir tree grew in the roots, which St Boniface took to be a sign of the Christian faith. Another heartwarming story tells of a poor little boy who appeared on the doorstep of a forrester’s home, whose family welcomed him in, clothed, fed and sheltered him. The next morning they were awoken by a choir of angels and the little boy had turned into Jesus, the Christ Child. To show His gratitude for their hospitality and kindness, Jesus broke off a branch from a fir tree and gave it to the family. All these stories and more can be read here.

My experience with the Christmas Tree can probably be shared by many others and wouldn’t seem too unusual an encounter, each year myself and my family would source a real evergreen fir tree from a local garden centre. It has always been a fun festive occasion, with the excitement of finding our favourite tree and of course decorating it with lights and all the beautiful decorations that myself and my family have acquired over the years.

However this year, we decided to take a break from this tradition and instead harvested our very own Scots Pine tree from the Surrey Hills. I only recently discovered that The National Trust have an incredible initiative at Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punchbowl, where you can find and cut down your own tree to take home. All you need is your own saw and a pair of tough gloves. Open only for a few hours over two weekends, it was very popular with families, with excited children (and big kids like myself) hunting for the prettiest tree to take home. The trees have been growing naturally in the woodland and in abundance;  we found ours after half an hour of searching in the frosty winter wonderland for our perfect tree, a beautiful 9ft blue-green Scots Pine.

This is my watercolour illustration inspired by the beautiful surroundings:

The only truly native pine in the UK, the evergreen Scots Pine thrives in heathland and is widely planted for timber. However it can also be found growing in abundance in the Caledonian forest in the Scottish Highlands. It can grow to 35 metres and live for 700 years.

Hindhead Commons and The Devil’s Punch Bowl is worth the visit if you happen to be in the area. According to legend, the devil lived nearby and would torment Thor, the god of Thunder, who lived in Thursely, by leaping from hill to hill. Thor would strike the devil with thunder and lightning and once the devil retaliated by scooping up the earth and throwing it at Thor, leaving a depression now known as the Devil’s Punch Bowl. The National Trust café also provides some delicious food, the curried Leek and Sweet Potato soup with Mackerel topping was very welcome in the wintry weather.

Although the Christmas Tree has both pagan and Christian origins, Christians like myself see the tree as a symbol of the everlasting life with God. The famous carol, ‘O Christmas Tree’ immortalized the fir’s evergreen qualities as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness.

Here are the last few verses from the much loved carol to put you in the Christmas mood…

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
How often has the Christmas tree
Afforded me the greatest glee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
From base to summit, gay and bright,
There’s only splendor for the sight.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee! !

Spotted at Fetcham Park House – The World of Interiors magazine and Louis Laguerre murals

‘On painted ceilings you devoutly stare,
Where sprawl the saints of Verrio or Laguerre.’
Alexander Pope

I have the privilege of living within walking distance of a beautiful 17th century mansion Fetcham Park House in Surrey, England. A Grade II listed building in the Queen Anne baroque style with Flemish bond and red brick, the ornate gardens and elegant interiors have remained largely unchanged since the 1700s. The mansion was commissioned in 1697 by Henry Vincent, who appointed architect William Talman, a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren and in the service of King William III at Hampton Court, to design the building in 1705.

       Murals by renowned French artist, Louis Laguerre, adorn the ceiling in the Shell Room and the Main Staircase, depicting Greek mythological scenes.

Born in Versaille’s courts to his Catalan father, Laguerre was trained under Charles Le Brun, later becoming a pupil of Antonio Verrio. He assisted Verrio with paintings at Windsor Castle and Blenheim Palace, before embarking on his own illustrious career in 1687. Aside from Fetcham Park House, Laguerre’s murals can also be seen adorning the walls of Marlborough House, Chatsworth, Petworth and Blenheim, mainly depicting English victories against King Louis XIV.

There are five wall and ceiling murals painted in oil and plaster, and seven decorative panels painted in oil on wood by Laguerre.

The gardens are another delight at Fetcham Park House, having been designed by George London. They are incredibly romantic at night, with lights illuminating the fountains like the Trevi Fountain in the film, La Dolce Vita.

For the past two years, I have attended the Carol Service adjacent to the Mansion at St Mary’s Church, another historic gem built in the medieval era and the oldest building in Fetcham parish. The Carol Service also functions as a fundraising event for charity Transform, which helps vulnerable people out of homelessness and provides them with shelter and support. There is an opportunity to give a donation and afterwards congregate in the Mansion for mince pies, canapes and mulled wine, as well as the rare experience of enjoying the opulent interiors, luxurious gold panelling and paintings on display.

Throughout it’s history, Fetcham Park House has been a multi functional building, first as a home, then a school and now offices, but hardly opens to the public. However Parallel Venues launched it as a stunning wedding venue in 2011, available for ceremonies on most weekends and public holidays.

I’ve been wanting to find a reason to write about the mansion and it’s beautiful interiors, and as destiny would have it, my sister spotted the October issue of the World of Interiors magazine by the staircase, the very edition in which my Autumn Colour painting features!


The combination of carols by candlelight, the Christmas message, charity fundraising and a 17th century setting makes the Transform Carol Service a lovely start to the festive season.

It’s definitely looking a lot like Christmas!

Spectrum Miami – 6-10 December

I’m thrilled to be exhibiting my oil paintings and drawings at Spectrum Miami, Florida, from 6-10 December 2017.

Coinciding with one of the world’s most influential art fairs, Art Basel, Spectrum Miami is a juried, contemporary art experience emerging from the heart of the Arts and Entertainment District in Miami. It is an annual convergence of creative energy, where emerging and established artists and galleries have been specially selected to showcase their artistic vision and talent.

For five days, Miami’s burgeoning cultural centre will feature an exciting array of unique art events, including Art Labs, Meet the Artist sessions, Artist Talks, music and entertainment. Thousands of visitors from around the world will descend upon the Arts district this week, including art collectors, museum directors, curators and art dealers.

Unfortunately I cannot be there in person, but my artwork will be represented by Art UPClose, an art agency based in New York.

View the event location here.

This oil painting may not be one of Miami’s beaches, but I wanted to enjoy some tropical sunshine nonetheless. If you manage to visit Spectrum Miami and Art Basel, I wish you a fantastic time of art discovery!

Journeying into Narnia and The Surrey Artists online shop

“Some journeys take us far from home. Some adventures lead us to our destiny.”
CS Lewis, ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.’

Representing my art online often feels like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia, a digital world where I am suddenly (or gradually) presented with exciting new experiences and opportunities both nationally and internationally, that might not have been as readily available offline. The ability to travel cyberly and meet new connections (and keep in touch with current connections), has made the internet a pleasant asset to my art business.

The quote from CS Lewis is particularly apt, as I recently had a meeting with the Surrey Artists Network at the historic pub, The Old House in Dorking, Surrey, with parts of the building dating back to the 14th Century. The meeting was held in a secret room, hidden away at the back of the pub and only accessible through a walk in wardrobe. My first impression on opening the door on the other side of the wardrobe was like entering an 18th Century time capsule. I was immediately transported into another era, with leather seats, exposed beams, brickwork chandeliers, a roaring log fire, old paintings, bookshelves lining the walls, and an old piano. My inner interior designer/architect/historian/musician/bibliophile/antique collector couldn’t quite control itself and I just fell in love with the secret room instantly. I don’t think it’s hard to see why.

The purpose of the meeting was not to discuss the online shop which I am about to mention, but the network organisers always seem to find hidden gems tucked away in Surrey for our meetings, so I wanted to include it here, particularly with the Narnia/internet theme.

On 20th November I began an online Open Studios art shop with Surrey Artists, of which I am a member, and incredibly, received my first orders within two days. I have decided to feature greeting cards, with eight card designs in a mix and match format, suitable for any occasion throughout the year. Alongside the cards, I have included a small framed original oil painting and several open and limited edition prints that are currently only being displayed in galleries. Sharing about my commissions online in the past few weeks has also resulted in several enquiries from new clients, requesting bespoke commissions in the New Year. An etsy shop is also in it’s inception, and will be featuring (at the moment), greeting cards and prints. A lot can happen in a few weeks!

There is a seasonal Christmas discount of 30% on all my limited edition small prints, and free UK postage for all medium size prints. Both offers are available until mid January.

Most originals, aside from the one on the Surrey Artists shop, will be able to buy from me directly or through galleries or agencies representing me. You can view more of my work and upcoming exhibitions at

I am now taking commissions for 2018, please send any enquiries to

I would always encourage other artists to focus on their artwork creation offline first and building contacts, then simply continuing it online and not giving up, especially if they are not very technically/social media inclined. Perseverence, faithfulness in doing what you love, and hope, has it’s rewards.

Remembrance Sunday and Armistice – War and Peace

‘At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.’
Extract taken from ‘This Day In History’

The National Service of Remembrance, held today at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, will unite the nation in remembrance of all who have suffered or lost their lives in war. It is the closest Sunday to Armistice Day on 11 November and marks the end of the First World War in 1918. The Queen will be present, alongside other members of the Royal family, veterans, representatives of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, Fishing Fleets and Merchant Air and Navy, as well as faith communities, politicians and High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries.

This year also plays host to the 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein, the 100th birthday of forces sweetheart, Dame Vera Lynne, and the centenary of the Battle of Passchendale in 1917. I was fortunate to witness a musical tribute and canon salute in commemoration of the battle of Passchendale at Blenheim Palace’s Battle of the Proms in July, where Master Gunner John Slough fired the canon in honour of his grandfather, Albert, who was killed in action at Passchendaele.


‘Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.’
Extract from ‘For the fallen,’ by Robert Laurence Binyon

As Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday approaches each year, scarlet poppies begin to make their appearance, but their origins are often forgotten. It was in the opening lines of the poem ‘In Flanders  Field,’ written during the First World War in May 1915, that Major John McCrae noticed the poppies flowering over the graves of fallen soldiers. His poem later inspired American teacher Moina Belle Michael and Frenchwoman Madame Anna Guerin to encourage people to use the red Flanders poppy as a way of remembering those who had suffered in war and had sacrificed their lives for their country and families. The Royal British Legion have since adopted the flower as the symbol of their ‘Poppy Appeal,’ supporting those serving in the British Armed Forces. The Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance pays tribute to all who have lost their lives in conflict and their loved ones, or have suffered mental or physical injuries, with thousands of poppy petals tumbling down onto the audience and Her Majesty the Queen.
The tomb of the Unknown Warrior was housed in the nave of Westminster Abbey on 11 November 1920 simultaneously with a French soldier at the Arc de Triomphe, and is the most distinguished tomb amidst kings and queens, representing every unidentified fallen warrior. Since Lady Elizabeth Bowes (married to the Duke of York, later King George VI) laid her wedding bouquet on the tomb in 1923 as a mark of respect, many royal brides have continued this tradition. The tomb’s cover is laid with a slab of black Belgian marble and enrobed by scarlet poppies, with verses inscribed onto it’s surface. One such New Testament verse, from  John 15:13, simply says ‘Greater love hath no man than this.’

With these powerful associations surrounding the poppy, I thought it was particularly poignant to find several naturally growing amidst a lavender field. These few poppies made a bright contrast to the delicate surrounding lavender, a flower that is most commonly associated with love, devotion, purity and calm.

This is my resulting oil painting and tribute to those affected by war, ‘Poppy amongst lavender.’