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.