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Living and working are closely linked at Golden Valley Cottage, an unconventional but satisfying rural life. My studio, a wooden shed, painted iron-red, like a Norwegian mountain hut , is just a few yards from the cottage, and surrounded by a rambling garden of traditional flowers, vegetable patch and orchard.I live with potter, Nigel Lambert. We often have hectic weeks when no day is typical and we chase our tails fitting in deliveries, kiln firings, meetings and publicity deadlines.
Neither of us are natural early risers, woken gently by our small flock of doves on the cottage roof, we take turns to make a pot of tea at eight o’ clock. I like to start the day slowly. There are morning jobs, feeding hens and doves, and in the summer, watering the polytunnel and hanging out washing, in winter, chopping wood for our stoves.
These days I try not to arrange anything away from home that begins before ten in the morning. If I’m running a workshop, I load up the Morris Minor’s tiny boot, and back seat the night before.We always have ‘Paperwork Monday’ , putting the morning aside to deal with the previous week’s accumulation of post, emails, bills and business related things. Computor jobs can take over from making and painting so we try to focus it on one day.
Painting starts for me at coffee time. I’m usually working on two paintings, one that I paint standing up , an oil painting on the easel, and one sitting down, perhaps a smaller watercolour (I’m still conscious of avoiding backache after twenty years as a potter.) I paint all day to a background of Radio Four, Six Music, cds, and records, interspersed with coffee and tea; a routine I suspect will be recognized by many craftspeople and artists.
I meet Nigel for lunch in the garden, conservatory or warm kitchen, depending on the season. Occasionally we call on each other to ask advice or confirm suspicions on the look of something “What do you think of these handles?” or “Does this colour work?”
We take it in turns to cook . If one of us has an exhibition deadline looming , the other will take on more household jobs. If we’re both meeting a deadline then we just muddle through!
I love the quietness and uninterrupted stretch of evenings, I often return to my studio after tea and work on, fuelled by coffee and chocolate and sometimes whiskey, determination and late night radio.