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From time to time we will post articles about our courses and events and links to things that we think will interest you.


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By Janet, Mar 26 2015 05:37PM

Earlier in March we ran a pilot for the second in our new series of artist-led workshops. The artists all produce work that has a connection to gardens, horticulture or just the great outdoors. This is an extension of the ethos of the Secret Craft Fairs that I hold each year as part of our NGS Open Garden day - bringing art and gardens together.

Four of us met with Helen Rhodes to test drive and refine Plants and Pattern, a workshop with Helen Rhodes. We're a mixed bunch in terms of our artistic ability. Pete and I have Fine Art degrees, Anne's an IT specialist with a keen eye for detail, and Emma's a self confessed painting novice.

We drank tea and listened as Helen told us about her work, how she developed her creative business, and what we were going to do.

The first activity - preparing our paper for the day - was very hands on and simple - a good way to get started. The techniques Helen then revealed to us were engaging and uncomplicated; it's the way she puts them together that make them sparkle. There were lots of 'ooh's' as we completed our initial mono-prints, the base of our designs.

It was wonderful having Helen's inspiring support and guidance over the session. She was very intuitive about which of us needed a bit more help and when, letting us 'go' on our own once we'd got over various hurdles. For example, I'm not that confident about colour but had a clear idea of the composition I was after, so was very happy to take advice about that. Emma wanted to focus on her painting technique - so opted to select one of Helen's images to use as a starting point.

Helen kept us all on track, no one felt as if they were lagging behind or racing ahead. The materials and equipment are inexpensive and easy to get hold of, the processes simple enough to do at your own kitchen table.

We worked quickly and easily - achieving a lot in just a few hours. After just a couple of hours we all had paintings we are pleased with and felt inspired to do more, whatever our level of previous experience.

We chatted over lunch - a tasty homemade tomato soup - then did a quick review of the morning's session. Thinking about how much more could be achieved in a day and additional activities to enable folk to hone their observation skills in relation to plants and pattern.

The resulting workshop is a packed but relaxed day discovering the secrets behind Helen's different techniques, exploring local gardens with Helen to look at seasonal plants and pattern, and creating your own rich and colourful mixed media artworks with Helen's support. Plus a two course lunch and home baked cake.

Quote of the day was from Emma. "I could do this all day and go home happy!"

Find out more about Helen and the workshops here.

By Janet, Jun 4 2014 08:54PM

We're opening our garden on Herrick Road in Loughborough, Leicestershire on the 7th and 8th June for the National Gardens Scheme. Another garden is opening with us on the 8th. There’s loads to see and do, and lots of nice surprises.

The Secret Craft Fairs involve giving the ground floor of our home over as public space for the duration. The living room’s been a market place, a site for installations; the kitchen wall becomes a gallery. The area near the washing machine becomes a sales area, the greenhouse becomes a showcase, and the garden walls a gallery.

By the conclusion of our forthcoming event in June we will have shown work by 19 different artists in our home and garden.

Artist Helen Rhodes will be joining us with drawings, prints, ceramics and her new range of notebooks. Artist and illustrator Olivier Marc Thomas Leger will be bringing his meticulously hand drawn menagerie. Ceramic artist Bridget McVey will be with us and throwing pots in the shed on Sunday – come and have a go! Mat Tacey of The Green Woodpecker will be bringing his beautiful bird boxes made from reclaimed materials. Jane Bevan will be bringing her lovely crafts made from items she’s collected in the woods.

We’ve got acoustic music and real live faeries at the bottom of the garden by anon.creatives, and the teeniest tiniest cinema in the world (well, maybe!).

Admission is £2/3 on both days, free for children, with proceeds going to The National Gardens Scheme charities.

More details about the artists and event here

It'll be great to see you!

By Janet, Jun 15 2012 04:20PM

We’re in the midst of preparations for our Garden Party & Secret Craft Fair* on Sunday. We're celebrating the launch of The Refectory Table and expecting lots of people who make and do creative things to come along.

The Secret Craft Fair includes work by:

Kay Van Bellen

Maxine Greer

Rachel Wood

Barry Bulsara

Sue Bulmer

Helen Rhodes

Nicolette Potton

Nita Nathwani

People are also bringing examples of what they make or do, including, knitting, baking, embroidery, how to bake a Damien Hirst, bookbinding, pilates, ipad drawing, and for Father's Day we have 'Boys Stuff' In The Shed - Tabletop war games, and ray guns

We’ll be taking photos and video, so watch out for blog posts – or if you fancy the sound of it –why not look at the event page – we might just be able to squeeze you in at the last minute!

*Okay - it's not that secret, but you do need to book to come along....

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