I was given a small posy of flowers and wanted to capture them before they faded. In the end, I decided to use a bright palette of colours to hasten spring… in my studio at least.
Enjoy your weekend x
I was given a small posy of flowers and wanted to capture them before they faded. In the end, I decided to use a bright palette of colours to hasten spring… in my studio at least.
Enjoy your weekend x
This is my old rescue dog Ruby, part whippet part terrier. She was known for sharing happiness and any food you might have. When I had a painting studio at Porthleven on the harbour, in the old net lofts, she would come with me each day . While I worked, she would snooze in the chair until lunch time when we’d take a walk to blow the cobwebs away, then it was back to painting for me and back to sleep for her. Contented , with twitching paws, she’d dream of seeing the Ship Inn cat again tomorrow !
This painting, made a few years ago, was inspired by old archive pictures I came across of a Cornish Carnival. These children are in fancy dress as a newly married couple with their dog as the bridesmaid, they have stopped to pose for a photograph on the harbour front .
Whatever you do …. Have a great day x !
by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Image taken from the inside lid of a painted box : DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, I LOVE YOU.
The other day I listened to some people discussing ‘Sunshine on Leith’ by the proclaimers and what it meant to them . The words got me thinking of people and animals that have been an important part of my life, and that I have had to say goodbye to.
I would like to share with you a few paintings or details, in which those loved ones became my subject matter, and the happy times I remember . I give thanks .
To listen to the proclaimers ‘Sunshine on Leith’, click the link below.
We all recognise that bullying is delivered in a variety of guises. As it is anti bullying week and ironically there is a bit about it in the news , I wanted to put this post up to support two much loved and bright female members of my family . They know all about what its like to be targeted by a bully and their enabling ‘bully monkeys’, (the folks that protect the abuser in order to benefit from the bully’s actions).
As soon as someone who has been really out of order, tells you its ok because they are passionate, or the victim here, or worse they pretend to defend a cause they don’t give a damn about, or say it didn’t happened , as a means of excusing their abusive, insulting, intimidating or humiliating actions , … the red light should go on .
A cautionary warning for the loyal supporters of a bully, ( who are accumulated for use in the abusers ‘stable’), your position is precarious , they will throw you under the bus without a care …. especially if you do not , support them without question loud and clear, if you can see though them, or if they just need another target to add to their endless trail of a misery, damage and destruction .
In my experience the abuser has a fragile ego and needs to put on a ‘show’, (be abusive), regularly. This ‘maintains control ‘ of how they are perceived ( perhaps as dictator or victim today, maybe both at the same time), and this keeps supporters in line, but more important, these bulling episodes provide the cover, for all stuff they really want to keep hidden about themselves.
So stay in the light, grow stronger and be happy x.
To read more on this topic , in a more in-depth blog – Who tilts the scales?
Over the years, like many artists, I have made paintings in which I explore mans inhumanity to man, and to nature. For me a determining measure of a civilised , caring society is its willingness to tolerate harming behaviour.
In this collection of paintings, I have gathered together imagery that illustrates what I consider to be ‘harming’ behaviour . Some of the paintings were made for a project entitled 100 painted vows. These images tell the stories of War & Politics, Sexual Predators, Environmental and Animal abuse, Human Rights & Slavery, Trolls, Domestic abuse & Mental Health .
Its that time of year again . Between Friday 17th of July and Sunday August 9th we are encouraged to keep an eye on the health of the butterfly and moth populations out there in our gardens and environment. If like me you are not confident , don’t worry, there is a chart to down load to help with identification.
Right, I’ve got their information , now all I need is a promising looking spot in the garden, a cup of tea and my glasses .
On Tuesday the 16th June, Barbara Kirk Auctions is holding an Online Sale of Antiques, Art and collectors items at 10am .
I have learned that a small framed painting, one of a bird series I produced some years ago is in this sale . Lot 294.’Figure and Birds III.’ Oil on board. Signed & dated . 10 x 15cm.
Through life I have felt at one with nature, but there is something about birds , their song, beauty and fragility that has me returning to them again and again as subject matter. At the time of painting this in 1999 I was working on the theme of figures and birds in harmony within the landscape, and I had a tiny edition of prints made of some of them.
If you take a look at the Auction , you will also discover a large collection of Bob Bourne paintings, with proceeds and commissions from that work donated to a cancer charity.
Today Aesops wisdom rang in my ears. His stories sum up human frailties and universal life lessons for us all, a narrative that a few people in the public eye could benefit from right now.
self-aggrandisement#destructive cycles of behaviour#mental health.
It was world Pangolin day this month, highlighting their need for our help. Life for everyone is without doubt, very complicated and difficult right now , but as a painter, the disturbance I feel in my heart and head for environmental crime continues . It was in 2018, prompted by disquiet when their plight was first brought to the worlds attention, that I made this little Ex Votive painting about Pangolins, sweet natured , minding their own business, just living in the forest, but if found, their gruesome fate is made evident in the background of this picture.
Sir David Attenborough is vice -president of this conservation charity, if you’d like to give them a hand in what they do, here is the link .
Another blog – endangered-species-our-planet/
On this day, and everyday …. we share in remembering .
Wishing you good health & happiness in 2021!
I came across these enlightened words of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, they seem pertinent as we consider our futures, and that of our planet .
Drink water from the spring where horses drink. The horse will never drink bad water.
Lay your bed where the cat sleeps.
Eat the fruit that has been touched by a worm.
Boldly pick the mushroom on which the insects sit.
Plant the tree where the mole digs.
Build your house where the snake sits to warm itself.
Dig your fountain where the birds hide from heat.
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time with the birds – you will reap all of the days golden grains.
Eat more green – you will have strong legs and a resistant heart, like the beings of the forest.
Swim often and you will feel on earth like the fish in the water.
Look at the sky as often as possible and your thoughts will become light and clear.
Be quiet a lot, speak little – and silence will come in your heart, and your spirit will be calm and full of peace.”
Saint Seraphim of Sarov
There are some lovely medieval paintings that can be enjoyed in the four books that make up ‘The Anonymous Life’ manuscripts, which chart the life and miracles of this important Medieval saint, who died in 687 . It was however his thoughtful relationship with animals, his encounters with angels , a life as a hermit ( in this time of the Pandemic Lockdown), and an article I read by Greg Martin which connected the saint to Cornwall that set the seeds for this painting.
Cornish legend has it, that while St Cuthbert’s remains were being transported to Durham they touched a Well , creating the miraculous healing waters in a Cornish cave at low tide . This place can be found at the south west corner of Kelsey Head , Holywell Bay, Nr Newquay. It was where for centuries, Pilgrims and the sick visited, to drink the natural water from the Sacred Spring .
My thoughts of gratitude and sadness at this time, are with all of those extraordinary men & women who have and continue to, sacrifice their lives for ours .
For the Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
I made this painting some time ago . This week my little muse is off school again, at home, and feeling rough, like many others are at the moment. It is a difficult time for everyone just now, but for those of any age who’s health issues make them more vulnerable, its tough. Get better soon X.
Its known that many of Edward Elgar’s compositions were inspired by the Malvern Hills and surrounding countryside. I discovered a love of his music and the place when I lived nearby, having graduated from Art College.
Listening to this , I am returned to a time spent walking on those hills. We climbed to the top on a clear morning, catching breath, standing on the short dewy grass nibbled by rabbits . In total awe of the view below , feeling like birds in the sky. On one side the black welsh mountains , the other, sweeping green countryside, dotted with tiny houses.
Elgar put his deepest thoughts , experiences and sorrows into this work. It never ceases to move me, his expression of profound emotion a connection to a time and place.
The wonderful Paul Tortelier plays Elgar cello concerto 1st movement
This Pandemic has been life changing for everyone. Many people have suffered very badly, and it continues to be a difficult time on so many levels .
As a painter and visual narrator , one of the more curious sights to emerge over the last few months has been the very inventive masks that people have made, using the most unexpected materials. Modifying and adapting whatever is to hand, in an attempt to keep safe when leaving home.
The result has been an amazing array of videos and photographs on line, which record the unusual as standard or somehow ordinary now.
With this in mind, I wanted to celebrate our inventiveness in an emergency, and mark that moment in society when the eccentric became quite ordinary.
These paintings from an estate, are coming up for sale at Lays on June 11th 2020.
The paintings I have made over the decades have become a visual diary and a record of life . Those below were owned by a dear friend , who often came to my studios . When I see them, I am reminded of the original influences and inspiration for them.
This is a painting I made of John in 1987. At the time, he was the harbourmaster when I had an Acme Studio in Porthleven. He was a man of few words , out in all weathers organising the boats and keeping the place tidy. His office was next to the stone steps that took me up the second floor studio that I shared with my dog Ruby.
The painting below, is all about a tiny black cat that we rescued when we lived in a cottage in Gloucestershire . He was a scraggy little thing , very under fed, the vet had told us he had kidney damage from rat poison, so he had ongoing health issues, anyway, he lived out the rest of his life happily with us. Although, he never grew , he was always like this , affectionate, and shy, with wide eyes.
In the 1980’s we had visited family that lived in Spain. While there, we took the opportunity to go to Madrid to see the wonderful Goya paintings in the Prado . That day, we came across a flea market in a square, and I bought a rustic painted and carved wooden duck . Sadly, I think it was originally intended as a decoy. But back in the studio , the carving inspired this colour palette and a new narrative .
These paintings and many more by Cornish artists can be found at – https://www.davidlay.co.uk
Yemen’s ongoing crises continues. Today on the radio, I listened to an article centred around education and the conditions endured by teachers and children in this war torn country . It seems that some teachers haven’t been paid for a year, schools continue to operate amongst the rubble and bomb damage of buildings, they have no chairs, doors, lights or enough food. Children say they have become used to the sound of gun fire and the need everyday to confront the possibility of dying. Still, schools continue to teach and their children remain eager to learn.
Today the UN warn of yet another threat to Yemen , famine, if as expected the Uk go ahead and cut Aid by perhaps as much as 50% . I can’t offer an explanation of the why’s and wherefores of the military campaign lead by by the Saudi Arabian coalition, I leave that to those more informed, but like you, I do witness the impact on civilians. The world is struggling on so many levels environmentally and practically, here with the fallout of the pandemic and in war torn countries where life is literally a fight to stay alive every day.
So, as an artist, it is towards our elected politicians , heads of state , weapon makers and international negotiators I turn my gaze, when I hear the UN make such grave predictions . However , the date of this paintings is a sad reminder to me, for things to get better, there has to be a will for change, and the Yemeni civilians in 2021 , they still wait.
The painting is a Votive offering, made in 2016. Title – One Hundred Painted Vows.
At the end of last year I asked a friend who is a carpenter to make me a wooden chair. I had an idea of design I wanted, as I had seen a beautiful old lambing chair that was made from recycled timber, unified with a coat of paint.
I drew out the chair in pencil on a piece of A4 and with a tape measure I worked out the proportions . As my friend went out the studio door with the design in his pocket he said, “don’t worry I will make it, but I wont fix it , then you can make any changes you don’t like , and I agreed.
Some weeks later a message came to pop in and see the chair, and I nipped over. I had really been looking forward to seeing my drawing transformed into 3D, and finally there it was.
Looking at it from all angles the shape was just as I had hoped . We discussed the parts we liked and those we didn’t, he didn’t like the arms which we changed , and I wanted a drawer under the seat, and so gradually the chair took shape . The heavy recycled oak and pine chair finally arrived complete in my studio just before Christmas .
I had the in the back of my mind that this might be a ‘thinking chair’ , a space in which one feels safe and relaxed. The kind of chair that is rarely empty in any pub or meeting place and that has a good view out of a window. In the meantime, I put it in the corner of the studio to get used to its shape, and to consider how best to paint it…..
It was in the new year that ideas of colours and imagery began to emerge, and I started work. This method of working was all about putting paint on and taking it off or painting over the next day. But, this process did build up rich multiple layers and developed transitory imagery, which I thought could fit the chairs space and form more naturally than applying anything predetermined .
And so here are a few pictures of it in progress and situ. The drawer is a proving to be a useful space, the question is, what should I keep in there… drawing books, gin and tonic or a lamb …. as intended with the traditional chair.
I listened with great optimism to the radio recently, a rare thing with all the sad news and angry discord . The speakers were sharing information about Coronation Meadows .
It seems that in partnership with conservation charity Plantlife , farmland has been reclaimed for wild flowers, in places where the public can visit. The idea celebrates the beauty and diversity of wildflower meadows for The Queen. Sites where photographer Hugo Rittson Thomas has recorded the resulting abundance of orchids, insects and birds.
Environmentally this is great, and something to look forward to when things improve. If like me, you would like to enjoy the spectacle in Cornwall, at Godolphin Meadows Helston, Cornwall, or to find a site else where in Uk, Ireland, Whales, Scotland or our Islands, follow the link below:
Related blog: https://wp.me/p8Y0MW-IV
To find out more about the charity Plantlife : https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk
Have a lovely home made, hand knitted Christmas !
Stay safe, and don’t eat too many mince pies …. with love, Zoe x
In a new category in the web shop, I thought I’d share some of the paintings I have in the studio that have never been seen, that were made for Sacred spaces.
‘One Hundred Painted Vows’.
These paintings are my response to the avalanche of information we deal with every day, and the feeling that important moments and events were not being given the time they deserved. In response I made this collection of paintings which tell the stories of both personal and international events I wanted to mark over a number of years.
The work also pays homage to the tradition of the Ex Votive and Christian offerings, which are made by and for members of the public. For displayed within a church, they remind the visiting traveller, that there is a shared common good in the world, and invite the Pilgrim to leave their own prayer or thanks vow.
These two very large paintings on board were made for the ceiling of my studio. If you have an interest in angels, you will know that each of these Divine messengers has a different role written down and painted through history. Archangel Michael fights evil and defends integrity . Archangel Raphael brings to us a regenerative healing life force.
I apologise for the basic photos , they were just quick pictures of work in progress. For information on size etc , click link in shop below.
In 2014 I was invited to decorate Godolphin chapel for one day in August. The space is known as the healing chapel . With this in mind, two of the paintings that I made were entitled Sleep I & II. In them I reflect on the death of a child , the darkest experience a parent and family could ever have, and to honour the life long sadness for a sibling as angels watch over in that darkest hour.
Again, these were a part of the 2014 Godolphin healing chapel paintings. I decided to paint, ‘where trouble began’ in the Bible, with the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, when Adam took that bite from the apple, it’s healing that we need after trouble strikes.
Belgian artist, James Ensor is considered an uncompromising painter and printmaker, an innovator of his time, 1860-1949 . Some of his theatrical, macabre and unconventional subject matter made him notable to me as a young student, but the skills he employed throughout his career seem masterly to me now.
It was while studying at Art College at the end of the 1970’s, that I was introduced to this artists extraordinary work by our art history lecturer Peter Gorga, a generous and eccentric tutor who shared with us his deep understanding and appreciation of art and artists.
Here, I offer a few examples of Ensors unnerving subject matter to celebrate Halloween, and to remember this truly skilled, avant-garde artist.
I have brought together 10 paintings that are a part of the series ‘100 painted vows’ made some years ago . Each of them was made in response to Media or News articles. I felt the need to honour the subject matter in the only way I know, through painting, in this case as Ex Votives, both as an offering and a record of that time.
With the prospect of one million plant and animal species in danger of extinction. Sir David Attenborough’s documentary Extinction: The Facts, again gives us the stark warning that humans urgently need to work together to stop the destruction.
Support : www.wwf.org.uk
I came across this sun filled and evocative painting, by Sir Alfred Munnings, of Lamorna Wink pub.
The pub is still there on route to Lamorna Cove in Cornwall, although it has been modernised . There was a time I used to go there once in a while for a bit of lunch , with my old friend Paddy, before she died. Inside the pub was so cosy , especially on cold or rainy days , a slate floor, beams black as pitch, the walls a cream colour from the wood fire and decades of cigarette smoke , pub dogs snoozing or barking , lots of brass and memorabilia which told stories of the cove and sea adventures, greeted with a big welcome from landlord .
In good company, what more could you want!
Talking to friends and family members during the Coronavirus, they say one of the most difficult aspects for them has not just been the isolation, but the fact that they don’t spend time with their loved ones.
For close families, the lost weeks and months, without that shared time has been painful .
I made these painting about family events some years ago . To trace the fragments of shared love , friendship and respect between the generations, that I found so valuable through my own childhood.
Because of the Coronavirus , those fortunate to have access to a garden or outside space, may have had some quiet time to get out there and to see what’s been going on with all the beautiful birds and bugs that share our world.
This weekend we are encouraged to look out for Stag Beetles. It seems they need of our help, along with a lot of other endangered insects, on whom we rely without knowing it.
The beetles larvae live underground for a few years growing and eating old wood, so if you have a tidy garden they are less likely to visit , this is my excuse!
Stag beetles look prehistoric , wonderful , harmless and are one of the many amazing insects on the endangered list, that we need to nurture not kill.
This painting is one from series of a hundred, that I made over a number of years until 2019, to mark events, both personal and worldwide, that matter to me .
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