Friday, 29 July 2016

The Teme Valley Market

I was absolutely delighted to have a three month trial with the Teme Valley Market earlier in the year and even more so to be accepted as a permanent stallholder!

The market is on the second Sunday of every month at The Talbot at Knightwick (aka Best Pub in the World) and features local producers of food, drink, arts & crafts. 

Here's a video my mum made of one of her visits in May.

There are too many fantastic makers to mention so I'll start with just a few of my favourites:

Ruby's Kitchen-  hands down the best fudge I've ever laid my hands on. Cherry Bakewell is my favourite flavour and I end up getting a bag every time I see Ruby at any event.

The Handmade Scotch Egg Company-  just delicious! So many different varieties to try and a couple of gluten free ones too! 

Jonathan Clift Artist Blacksmith- if you see any beautiful metalwork inside the Talbot, it was probably made by Jonathan. He also collaborated with us for 'A Celebration of Nature' in Worcester Cathedral in 2014.

La Fleur De Chocolat- A fellow newcomer to the market. Oh my goodness these chocolates are divine!

Hintons Specialist BakeHouse- Emma bakes tasty sweet and savoury treats including gluten free sausage rolls and cakes. I always get my lunch from her when she's at a market.

The next market is going to be on Sunday 14th August. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Last Ever Art in Action

Life has been slightly hectic over the last few days with the arrival of our three absolutely beautiful rescue cats. I'm just about resisting turning into a full on cat lady, but it's a tough job!

10 week old Monty, 3 year old Whisper and 5 week old little Ink

A couple of weeks ago we went to the last ever Art in Action. I was absolutely gutted to hear that this year was the very last show due to difficulty in finding sufficient volunteers to run the event and I really hope it can continue in some other form.

It was Sam's first visit to the show so I enjoyed showing him some of my favourite makers and, of course, food stands.

Art in Action is set in the beautiful grounds of Waterperry Gardens. There are loads of different marquees filled with all of the artwork and demonstrations you could wish to see from glassblowing to illustration. 

My favourite tent is always the Market tent. This is the largest marquee with a fantastic variety of handmade items.

As this was the very last Art in Action, I did use it as even more of an excuse to shop. I can't show all of the photographs now as we stocked up on Christmas presents but here are a few from the day, and my favourite makers.

Elizabeth Welch makes stunning contemporary glass art, gifts and homeware. We really enjoyed chatting to her about what inspires her work. She is a big Game of Thrones fan and makes gorgeous tiny glass dragons! She was kind enough to let me try on one of her necklaces above. Check out her website to see more of her work.

After the first stint of shopping it was time to head for the shade and have a delicious lunch form the Aribica Spice Company.

We watched a really interesting raku pottery demonstration and did some more exploring after lunch. 

Before the end of the day, I had to return to Lucy Jade Sylvester's stand. I fell in love with her beautiful botanical and British insect inspired jewellery on my very first visit to Art in Action. I was lucky enough to visit her studio and had one of her beautiful dragonfly necklaces and some earrings for my 21st birthday present from my parents. I decided to treat myself to one of her delicate leaf necklaces as a memento of many happy years visiting Art in Action. I love it!

Hawthorn leaf necklace
Lucy Jade Sylvester

Friday, 22 July 2016

Herefordshire Art Week 2016

It's that time of year again when Mum (ceramic artist Lit Smith) and I start preparing for this year's Herefordshire Art Week.

This will be our third year taking part in the fantastic event. If you've never heard of it, h.Art is a prestigious annual event across Herefordshire (and some parts of Worcestershire) during which over 150 artists open up their studios to the public. You can meet the artist, chat to them about their work and even make a purchase directly from them.

This year h.Art is from the 10th-18th September
Follow the pink signs for Venue KLS

Every year a guide is produced with all of the venues featured plus a little information about them. The guides are free and will be popping up in shops and galleries around the area over the next few weeks but you can find more information on the website here. You can also contact us if you would like a copy of the guide.

Here are a few pictures from last year to whet your appetite. We hope to see you there!

And if that's all not enough to tempt you, I bake a cake every day for our visitors to enjoy!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Magic of the Hare

It seems like hares are having a bit of a moment; Every art show and gallery I go to features some kind of beautiful representation of these mysterious animals, yet we still can’t get enough of them. My hare designs are by far and away my most popular prints and cards, and I absolutely love to paint, draw and read about them.

So why are we so drawn to the hare?

'Midwinter Messenger'
Kate Betty Smith
Coming Soon as original, greeting card, small & large print

The hare features in many myths linked to the moon from all over the world. He was believed to be the messenger of the moon in many ancient legends and was linked to many gods and goddesses such as the Anglo Saxon goddess Eostre. In some stories he was though to travel between worlds under the cover of darkness when the moon was full. These mysterious creatures become associated with life and re-birth due to their appearance when the moon is full.

'Winter Moon'
Kate Betty Smith
Available as greeting card, small & large print

As well as being seen in a positive light, there are many myths and legends featuring the hare as a trickster closely tied to witchcraft. According to ‘The Lore of the Land’, almost every rural area in the country has stories of a witch able to shape-shift into a hare. The hare always managed to evade the local hunters but on occasion would become wounded and a trail of blood would lead back to an old woman’s cottage. Inside there was no sign of the hare, but the old woman had an identical injury. At this point her identity was usually revealed and her powers broken.

My favourite variation of this tale is from Tavistock where an old woman’s young grandson used to make a fair amount of pocket money by tipping off the local huntsmen as to the whereabouts of a particularly tricky hare to catch. They would always reward him for spotting the hare but could never catch her. One day, however, the hounds were too close to the hare for comfort and the boy was heard to shout,
“Run, Granny, run, run for your life!”
His grandmother arrived home panting, bleeding and exhausted, but safe and with her powers intact. There are also tales of children warning the witch in Breamore and Longtown, Hereford.

There was said to be a very well respected and powerful witch in Zennor, Cornwall. Well, she was treated with great respect by all but her own husband who did not believe in her magic. One night he threatened to kill her because his supper wasn’t ready. She put on her cloak and left the cottage, but there was no sign of her, only a large hare where she had been. She appeared soon afterwards with a hot and steaming feast and the husband, unnerved at what he had seen, never dared cross her again.

The feet of rabbits and hares were also used as good luck charms, with the foot being brushed against a baby’s face to ward off misfortune. Actors also used them to apply stage make up and kissed them for good luck.

'Moon Gazing'
Kate Betty Smith
Available as greeting card, small & large print

In Cornish legend if a young girl dies of a broken heart, she is said to return as a white hare to haunt her former lover. There is a particularly grizzly tale of Lord Pengersec- a man who sailed to a distant land in search of adventure. He met and fell in love with a beautiful princess and promised her his heart but returned home to his wife in Cornwall. He was horrified when the Princess appeared at his castle with their newborn child and turned her away. The princess cursed him and he pushed her over a cliff to her death. Her ghost came to haunt him in the form of a white hare with blazing red eyes during a storm whilst he was hunting. His hounds and horse abandoned him in fear and he woke half dead, without his sword and full of terror. He went on to live a cursed life and his only son Marec disappeared and was never seen again after seeing the same spectre one stormy night in a flash of lightning.

My dip pen and ink drawing from Hallmark's 1999 version of
'Alice in Wonderland'

Perhaps the most famous hare in literature is the March Hare- companion to the Mad Hatter in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. The phrase ‘mad as a March hare’ is thought to originate from their strange behaviour, such as boxing and jumping, during their breeding season. During the 18th century top hats were manufactured using hare skins. To prevent the fur from becoming matted, the skins would be kept in a bubbling vat of mercury nitrate and as we all now know, that’s quite enough to turn anyone into a ‘Mad Hatter’.

Messenger of the gods, moon gazer, trickster, shape-shifter, the ghostly form of the slighted lover. There’s such a rich history of stories surrounding the hare. I think they remind us of deep-rooted legends of the land and will always fascinate and inspire us.

If you would like to find out more about the folklore of hares, I thoroughly recommend two books I use to find inspiration for my work, as well as to write this blog post:
'The Lore of the Land' by Westwood & Simpson
'Spirit of the Hare' by Karen Cater

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

New Work: Highland Tiger

I come from a family of cat ladies. When it comes to our feline friends, the love is very strong which is why I was heartbroken to lose my beautiful cat Mia a few months ago. I miss her very much and keep expecting to see her around the house- my mind has even played tricks on me a few times when I think I’ve seen her lying on my bed, or coming in through the cat flap.

I decided that I wanted to paint a cat piece of artwork whilst the house feels empty and wrong. I like to focus on painting wild animals so I chose the elusive Scottish wildcat. 

Wildcats only remain in northern Scotland (they have died out in other areas of Britain) and are under threat due to a variety of factors including hybridization after breeding with domestic cats. There’s a fantastic program underway to try to conserve the Scottish wildcat which you can find out more about here. I was lucky enough to hear about the project on a wildlife tour in Ardnamurchan last year. I’m returning again next year and hope to learn more about how the project is progressing.

Known as the ‘Highland tiger’, the wildcat understandably has many folk tales attached to it and is an icon of the Scottish wilderness. It was even used in clan heraldry in the 13th century. The Clan Chattan Association (‘Clan of Cats’ formed of 12 different clans) use the wildcat in their badges and have the ominous motto of ‘Touch not the cat bot (without) a glove’. Be warned!

Charles St John had this to say of the wildcat,
“When caught in a trap, they fly without hesitation at any person who approaches them, not waiting to be assailed. I have heard many stories of their attacking and severely wounding a man, when their escape has been cut off... If a tame cat has 9 lives then a wildcat must have a dozen”.

There are tales of a Cat S├Čth which was said to be either a fairy creature or witch. It appeared as a large black cat with a white spot on its chest and is said to haunt the highlands. It is thought that these stories are inspired by the Kellas cat which was possible a cross between a wildcat and domestic cat.

I really enjoyed creating this painting and the finished piece, entitled ‘Highland Tiger’ is going to be available in original, greeting card and print form very soon and I will be making a donation from every sale to the Wildcat Haven project.

Information from this blog post is from 'Scottish Wildcats: Naturally Scottish' by Kerry Kilshaw