Have you ever felt disconnected from nature? Do you only capture it’s beauty fleetingly, rushing through your daily life? To me there are few more wondrous celebrations of nature than the fresh fizz of spring blossom.I aim to celebrate its arrival, documenting its abundance and delicacy, bud to petal fall, enabling people to respond to blossoms creatively too.

‘Blossom’ is kindly supported by Arts Council England, Arts Derbyshire & National Trust’s Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire.


Thankfully blossoms filled the orchards for the blossom Celebration day at Hardwick Hall, it was also a beautiful blue sky day perfect for picnics under the trees and making blossom art.

I had woken earlier than usual anxious whether everything would go according to plan, after working through endless lists of tasks to do, hoping to make the day a success by trying to think of everything. I need not have worried everything worked out just fine.

I picked up families from Chaddesden, Derby with the coach whilst my husband, Andrew and supporting artist, Sujata started to set out the gazebo. The musician, Bryan arrived in good time and everything was ready when the first people arrived.

Families ate their picnics under the blossom trees and sketched the blossoms with pencils, charcoal or pens. Some painted a canvas titled ‘Orchard’ others had a go at painting at the easel, whilst some made blossom fairies, goblins and other creatures which may live within the blossom trees.The idea was to create a friend with which to explore the orchard using clay, sticks, fabric and ribbons.I piled the coulourful fabrics up to look inviting. We had many wonderful creatures including a two headed blossom fairy and a multicoloured turtle!

I was delighted to see how long people stayed in the orchards to create and was very pleased with the numbers of people who took part including adults and children of all ages. The guitar and fiddle playing in the background really set the scene, creating a relaxing atmosphere. Bryan even did requests which included ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ and ‘Old Mc Donald.’

Some super pieces of art had been created of the orchard;. blossom, trees, flowers some including detailed drawings of the Hall in the background, people seemed to have fun drawing together, others drifted quietly off to draw alone under a tree. Parents celebrated their children’s creations with praise and one couple were surprised and delighted by the attention their 3 year old gave to painting on the canvas.The mum had previously been told their child had a very short attention span at Nursery.

During the project I met some adults who had very fixed beliefs about their lack of any drawing/painting skills, it took a lot of encouragement to get them to have a go. I have come across this often and wonder at what point do people lose confidence in their natural ability to make marks? Some surprised themselves once they put pencil to paper.

I was happy the day was enjoyed by all and relieved everything went according to plan.

I returned to the orchards on the Sunday and Bank holiday Monday setting up my easel to work on another large blossom painting. I also laid out rugs under the trees and filled baskets with paper and drawing materials so people could sketch the blossom too, something I have done throughout the project when painting at Hardwick. So many people have had a go, I now have over 100 postcard sketches left for me by the visitors and many more people took their sketches home with them too.

The Hardwick residency almost over, I felt sadness when packing up my paints for the last time, it amazes me how I can become so attached to a place, I feel like I know the gardens intimately, I feel so grateful for the time spent there. I have got to know some wonderful people including the Head Gardener Marie Purdy, who has supported me through the project, the team have been so helpful and I have been made so welcome.

My blossom paintings are exhibited in the South Gazebo and apple store within the gardens at Hardwick Hall until 19th May.


The Pop up Blossom Studio events at Quad, Derby were thankfully successful. Firstly the blossom workshop on the Friday for artists/teachers and community workers was enjoyed by all. After sharing the outcomes of my project they created some wonderful blossom art too.Hopefully the ideas will be passed on now to use in their classrooms and in arts groups.

The Pop up Blossom Studio open to the public on the Saturday was busy throughout the day, the children’s paintings and blossom machines looked fabulous, children and their parents were very proud of the creations, so wonderful to see, some very special moments valuing creativity. Many found time to stay and create using the materials on offer: Clay, blossom, twigs, leaves, fabric,wool, string, paints, pastels, inks, charcoal, pencils, crayons, different papers, card, crayons & marker pens,tape. I tried to provide lots of different creative possibilities, so everyone could make their own choices and play freely with the materials, in the way an artist would in a studio environment. It worked! Adults and children happily created freely, supported when needed by my supporting artist, Mary and myself. At times I also quietly painted at my easel to give people an insight into my creative process.

Surprisingly the room was very quiet and calm for long periods despite the numbers of people occupying the room. Participants seemed absorbed in their work, parents were thankful for a calm environment to bring their children and some adults created their first piece of art in years!

People called in expecting to be a few moments to see the paintings on display but then left a couple of hours later laden with their families freshly created art. I am so happy this happened, I love enabling people to make art, I’m always delighted by their creations.

I feel so encouraged by the public response to the Pop Up Studio it compels me to develop this idea further, reaching more communities creating a calm, creative studio environment where people of all ages can come together to make art supported by artists. I think every community needs such a space.

However before I get carried away making big plans for the future I need to focus on the task in hand, to prepare for my Hardwick Hall Blossom exhibition, opening this Thursday 1st May in the South Gazebo and Apple Store, within the gardens.

I will be setting up the exhibition on Wednesday, then getting materials together for the Blossom event at Hardwick Hall on Saturday 3rd May.I am taking a coach party from Chaddesden, Derby for blossom gazing picnics and blossom art activities under the blossom trees. I’m praying the blossoms will still be there. Nature has been very kind to me synchronising with my blossom events so far, let’s hope there will be a blossoming finale! Otherwise we may just have to use our imaginations, and where could that lead us!


Everything is packed and ready to go to my Pop Up Blossom Studio at Derby Quad.Long lists have all been checked and ticked and I’m just hoping I have got everything I will need.

The idea behind providing a Pop Up Blossom studio is to give the public the opportunity to see my process of creativity.I will be setting the room up as my studio, the sketchbooks, photos, unfinished pieces as well as finished ones. To also provide an opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy the creative process using a variety of materials to create their own blossom work or at least spark some ideas and remind oneself that we are all born creative and our creativity needs chance to play and explore.

At the previous Pop up Studio a 2 year old child did her first painting, a very special moment for child and proud parents! Others stayed at the easel for a couple of hours.I hope in some way to encourage people to paint, draw, make with clay, sparking old happy memories of the joy of creativity or uncovering creative blocks which in some cases have surpressed the creative spirit for years.

I can’t wait to display the fabulous children’s blossom paintings from Cherry Tree School and paintings and blossom machines from the Weston on Trent School Blossom workshops.I think they will look wonderful.

Last task to do is gather some blossoms.I am amused and delighted by the usefulness of social media in my quest for fresh blossoms to paint and draw at the Pop up Blossom studio.

I sent a call out and have had several blossom offering messages one from a friend who is in Turkey at the moment but happy for me to take a look in her garden! Think I’m going to feel like a blossom thief!

A modern day way of asking the Universe, it works…


The blossoms are looking gorgeous now, this warm spell has hastened their arrival, I have been getting ready for my blossom events; the Pop up blossom studio at Derby Quad and exhibition at Hardwick Hall, finishing off the paintings and adding gold leaf to some. My studio is full, hardly room to move now for all the blossom creations.

Surrounded by stunning blossoms everywhere I go I couldn’t resist preparing a canvas for another large painting. Although I have been working through a long list of jobs organising the blossom events, so I have promised myself if I get down the list I can paint tomorrow afternoon, I can’t wait.

Happy blossom viewing!

Please share your blossom images.


The six school blossom workshop sessions have all been delivered now, I seem to leave a trail of blossoms everywhere I go! The past two weeks have been frantic preparing, collecting materials and delivering the workshops, I feel tired but relieved 72 children have happily created blossom art.

In the preliminary visits to the schools I shared the process of my blossom paintings showing my sketchbooks and original paintings, talking through the blossom project and techniques I have developed.The children listened attentively and set to work gathering blossom sketches and photos for the blossom sessions.

Focussing on a project dependent on nature’s timings can be worrying but I realised I should have had faith when I arrived at Cherry Tree Hill school and the blossoms were in full bloom along the roadside. We walked year 5 to stand under the trees to blossom gaze for a while before returning to the classroom to paint.

The children’s art work is wonderful far exceeding any expectations I had, the preliminary visit paid off. Their paintings are vibrant experimenting with layering the paint creating different effects; textures, patterns and colours.I am delighted with the collection of 14 104 x110cm group canvases plus 15 smaller ones from both schools.

Today at my local school aswell as blossom paintings we created blossom machines, the task was to create a machine which could move the blossom petals in some way. Trying to replicate falling petals or petals being swept up in gusts of wind.Presented with fans and a balloon pump, recycled materials, card, tapes, strings and boxes the year 3 and 4 children worked in groups on their ideas. They were very imaginative and worked incredibly well together. We now have a Blossom Park including a slide which pumps petals down it, a Blossom TV with remote control and a fan which moves the blossom around. Maisy the Machine including a handbag and wash bag, Henry the Blossom Machine has paddles which move the petals. Mary Queen Blossom Machine, King Fred and Spider Blossom Machine which has six drinking straws attached to a container filled with petals.

It amused me how the children wrote signs; back in five minutes/ out of order/ handle with care. Their blossom machine manuals were interesting tWit with clear instructions how to work their machines.

I am always a little nervous how successful the sessions will be, but children always seem to create with great enthusiasm, I just need to present them with creative possibilities and have faith in the process and their innate desire to create things.

All will be on display in my pop up blossom studio at the Quad Derby on Saturday 26th April 2014 11-5pm in the participation room. Free event.

I will also be sharing the Blossom Project outcomes in a workshop at the Quad, Friday 25th April 9.30-3.30pm Please contact me if you wish to book a place.