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.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Here we go . . .

a) . . . again

b) . . . here we go, here we go

c) . . . it's Christmas!

or  . . .

Here we go round the mulberry bush

Which is what Cliff and I were doing at Ickworth Hall gardens in October.

All in the interest of research for my illustration for the 'Special' 13th issue of Gardens Illustrated magazine - which is on the news stands in the UK now, lovely gardening reading matter nestling twixt the December (Christmassy) issue and the January issue which kicks off 2016.

I remembered seeing a Mulberry tree somewhere in the Italianate garden near Ickworth's famous rotunda, when we attended a summer evening outdoor performance of Round the World in 80 Days. It took a few circuits of the garden but in the end we spotted 2 small Mulberry trees with leaves turning to golden yellow.
On the shady side of one tree the leaves were still fresh and green and we found fruits!

It's always good to see plants growing rather than working solely from photos  . . . back in the studio I made careful sketches
And then started to think about how to illustrate Frank Ronan's pen-portrait of the Black Mulberry and its juicy purple fruits.
I wanted to include some of the historical and culinary references – blended together on a 17th century tin-glazed platter with a slice of mulberry pie and a silver spoon.

Here's the finished linocut, printed in a deep purple, alongside the illustration on the final page of the magazine.

Going back to the nursery rhyme . . .

Here in a 1951 book 'Fiddle-de-dee an other Gay Way rhymes' illustrated by Jennetta Vise.

One possible origin of the rhyme is from Wakefield women's prison where the prisoners exercise yard had a mulberry tree in the centre. There's no need to clap your hands or stamp your feet to warm yourself this December, the seasons seem to have forgotten to 'do' Winter! Spring bulbs are growing, some daffodils are even in flower, and garden birds are behaving as if they are thinking of building nests!

Hold on . . . the coldest weeks here on the corner of Suffolk/Cambridgeshire/Essex is usually late January and early February so cold and frosty mornings might be around the corner.

And finally . . .

Over on Instagram I'm posting an Advent diary of random thoughts leading up to Christmas.

Wishing you a happy and peaceful Christmas


  1. I love mulberry trees, especially when they're old and gnarled. There's a big one in Gainsborough's garden and I saw one at the Red House in the summer too. Lovely illustration, perfect colour! Have a peaceful and fun Christmas. X

  2. About ten years ago (when my Grade 4 class were going to have silk worms) I planted a couple of white mulberry twigs....they need another ruthless pruning!
    And did you know that the best thing to remove (black) mulberry juice stains is an unripe berry? You're welcome.
    Happy Christmas.

  3. Celia, this post is a gem. Although I haven't seen many of them, face to trunk, I do like the look of mulberry trees. Your opportunity to do close up visual research for your Bakers Dozen issue of GI has resulted in a really great linocut. All the components of the picture serve each other so well. And, as has already been written, the chosen color is perfect. I am really looking forward to seeing this issue of the magazine.

    I'm also looking forward to when some of your original prints become available.

    Meanwhile, may if wish you and yours a wonderfully Happy Christmas and great experiences in that New Year that will soon be here.


  4. A beautiful linocut and interesting info on the nursery rhyme. Wishing you a very happy Christmas!

  5. Happy Christmas to you too, have fun. x

  6. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  7. I have never knowingly seen a mulberry bush Celia but I'm fascinated by all the bits and pieces of this post. Such an innocent illustration of dancing around one compared with the possible historical accuracy of the origin of the rhyme. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and all good wishes for continued success in 2016. I have learned so much from reading your posts over the years and long may it continue!

  8. Your linocuts are quite astonishingly beautiful. you make me wish, wish, wish I could do it!

  9. Love your sketches of the mulberry! Did you use some juice for the initial drawings and washes? Happy New Year from the running wave. A

  10. A house I used to visit in Cambridge while working as an agency nurse in the 1980's had an old mulberry tree in the garden. It was a gorgeous tree and the fruit was tasty.


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