Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Chaos theory . . . and carrying on as normal

What a lot has happened since my last blog post on 17 June, not only has the UK decided on Brexit and to swerve onto a different course leaving everyone on both sides of the argument bemused and *insert words of your own choice* but also here at home we've had a chaotic few weeks - stuff happens sometimes! - but we're all OK and that's the main thing.

When life gets messy it's good to take the long view and get things back into perspective . . . to help us do this we had a lovely day out at Wrest Park, somewhere we discovered a few years ago; since then English Heritage have done loads of work and there's now a lovely café and more of the house is accessible. But it's the park and beautiful pavilions that are the main attraction.

On the day we visited the unexpected bonus was that there was a brass band concert, add to that sunshine and some delicious ice creams and it was a perfect Sunday afternoon in the park

So . . . what's been going on in my studio?

I've designed 2 more Christmas cards for Plantlife, they'll be for sale online later in the year; and I spent an intense 5 days working on a packaging project for a Scottish design company, drawing and then carving lino faster than I thought possible! I hope to show you the finished design sometime, maybe early next year.

Then there's Gardens Illustrated, I illustrate Frank Ronan's column 'The Writer's Plot' a few months ahead of publication, in fact today I'm carving the lino block for the October issue. 

Here are the illustrations I did for the June issue . . . Camellias - do you like them? I confess that I don't but maybe that's because I've never had a garden where they grow happily and look good, frosted buds and clumps of brownish petals aren't a good look in my opinion. In the article Frank discovers that Camellias can be pruned in the Japanese cloud-pruned style, known as Niwaki. If you follow my blog you know I love Japanese design so this immediately grabbed my attention and cheered me up; so I took my inspiration from Japanese blue and white ceramics.

As I've come to expect, Frank's next article was a complete contrast; in the dry oppressive heat of the Californian summer Frank encounters a little weed, it's Groundsel which as you probably know is a common British native weed. Frank seems homesick for a damp verdant English garden:

"you know how it is when you are abroad and lonely and you meet someone slightly disgraceful from home whom you never really liked, and suddenly you feel they are full of charm and you get drunk together and talk too loudly"
Frank Ronan

I hunted around our garden and soon found a Groundsel plant that I could draw from life; looking carefully are the complex curves and points along the leaves, how the leaf wraps around the stalk and the cluster of flower buds and the fluffy seed heads, I'd begun to find Groundsel interesting too! And this sparked an idea for a project of my own through June ... 30 Wildflowers From My Garden, each day I sketched a different wildflower and posted the picture and some facts about the plant, on Instagram.  

It became fascinating ... I learned new botanical terms like 'dioica' and 'achaeophyte' and 'neophyte'.

I found that even the most mundane and common weeds have amazing stories to tell.

And at the end I realised there were many many more still to sketch, I could probably find 100 wildflowers!

So, this is something I'll probably return to from time to time and start another sketchbook of 'More Wildflowers From My Garden'.

Last week, at the end of another hectic weekend, we we went for a walk on the high fields between our village and Cambridge ... we hoped to get a glimpse of some of the air displays at Duxford Imperial War Museum and we weren't disappointed - a flypast of 19 vintage WWII planes just for us!

And on the way home, this glorious view across the cornfields and the sky full of skylarks singing - that's the tonic we needed to start another week and just focus on getting one thing done at a time - it's as good a theory as any to sort out chaos.


Coming soon: 
FolkEast 2016 and Cambridge Original Printmakers Biennale


  1. Carrying on as normal is always a good strategy. I'm not a huge fan of camellias as they generally do try badly for me, but the one 2 gardens away is huge and spectacular! Walks, skylarks and free air show - can't get much better than that!

  2. Dear Celia, after the past days' international and national news reports, I cannot tell you how lovely it was to see your post this evening.
    Camellias are not my favorites either, and so I am so glad that having the Japanese twist to the GI assignment set you on to a beautiful blue and white path.
    Your chronicling of your garden's wild flowers is a grand idea. I am going to take time to have a proper look at each individual drawing or painting.

    You do amaze me with all that you accomplish. It's also great that you and Cliff had that time away to refresh your eyes and to have weekend breaks.

    I'm looking forward to eventually seeing the results of that "packaging" design commission. It's bound to be super.


  3. I love the weeds, I'll have to follow you on Instagram. We've just moved up your neck of the woods too (well - Hitchin) any other ideas for nice days out much appreciated.

  4. Your first picture - the waterscape - is stunning and I like the weeds too.

    Your day out with added Brass Band sounds magnificent.

  5. Good to hear you are keeping your head above water in turbulent times... And keeping busy too!

  6. Yes the whole world seems to be going mad, thank goodness for nature and the ability to observe it's wonder! Always love your creations :) xxx

  7. Oh Celia, it has indeed been chaotic. I think the inmates are running the asylum so it's lovely to pick up a post of yours and get lost in the illustrations and the chat. I echo your thoughts about camellias. We inherited one which I wanted to uproot and banish to the compost tip. My husband moved it to somewhere out of sight where they should never thrive... and of course it does. 15 years on and it is massive, but still too pink and too brown for me! I must start following your instagram as those wild flower drawings are gorgeous. I love the brown paper sketchbook. I have something similar from Pink Pig but it is not as muted a colour as yours. May I ask where you bought it from? I think a cup of tea is in order while I scroll back through the Instagram photos and catch up on thewild flowers of Cambridgeshire.

  8. Your blog post was just a little piece of heaven, easy for me to say (you have been super busy!), but so much beauty in one piece of writing and those pictures! x

  9. Once again in the UK for a short few days in July I was able to get hold of the August Gardens Illustrated. I haven't had time to read it yet but I plan to once I have finished unpacking and doing laundry now we're back in Canada!
    I have to say I am a Camellia fan, I love their glossy shiny leaves and all the variety of colours of the beautiful flowers. This is probably because I usually picture them growing and flourishing (as most plants do) in my aunts Hampshire garden:sadly not here in my Canadian garden - the winters would finish them off pretty fast.

  10. I love the wildflowers Celia. I do like camellias but I always feel rather ashamed that ours is in a foolish place where I stuck it because it was an easy place to dig a hole when we first came and the plant was unhappy in its pot. Garden design it was not.


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