Illustrations by Jenny Robins
If you are visiting Windsor this Summer, and I really think you should because it’s got everything: Nando’s, Wagamama, a Castle – no really, it’s really pretty. Pretend you are posh, or a tourist. If you are posh, pretend to be a tourist, and vice versa. A nice day trip away from the city; a nice daytrip towards the city, but not quite too the city. If you live West.
Anyway, if you are visiting Windsor this Summer, be sure to stop in to the Mill House café and look at the really lovely Fragments exhibition put together by the superstar curatorial team Two Magpies Find. It’s on the left as you walk away from the Castle down Peascod Street, opposite Ben & Jerry’s. The show is up till the end of August.
Ok, this exhibition in question does include a lot of my work, so this is a bit self serving (insider’s perspective, Amelia said) but I don’t want to talk about that too much (although I will mention that the WHOWHATWHEREWHENHOW owl series is available as a limited edition postcard set – I’m only human). I wrote a big thing about me and why I paint birds for their local Beat magazine off the back of Fragments, so please feel free to go read that. I like birds, you like birds, we like birds, I paint birds, fly bird fly, etc.
But seriously, it’s all about the birds, kids. Edward Bawden used to say that the secret to selling paintings was to put cats in them wherever possible. Plenty of art lovers still love cats, that’s still a cliché. But in the last few years, particularly, it seems drawing birds is a strong contender. Just look at the fabulous Jo Cheung and Abi Daker’s birdtastic background for this very website. Birds are so beautiful and varied, they burst with life. There’s a special contained freedom to them that must appeal to the creative soul.
“I’m obsessed with birds too!” Ali of TwoMagpiesFind told me soon after we first met. It’s not surprising since she is a Magpie herself, wearing a golden bird-table necklace, echoing the lovely birdhouse illustration advertising their next exhibition theme “Home” (email entries here.) The pair met at the Firestation – a local arts centre where Anna works and Ali volunteers – and plan to expand their gallery work both locally and in other areas. Projects like this are so important, where independent venues work together with creatives to organise events that benefit locals and artists alike. Artists often live a magpie existence, ever courting serendipity. We need to support each other and keep on collaborating and getting involved with small projects. It can make the world of difference.
As well as my varied bird paintings, the show brings together Magpie finds illustrator and publisher Dan Prescott of Lazy Gramaphone, who’s intricate designs are both striking and absorbing, beautifully presented as perfect quality Giclée prints, and painter Zita Saffrette, whose landscapes are so full of light and air you’d think they were backlit. In addition the Magpies have displayed some of their own work –beautifully printed photographs exploring stark white juxtapositions on natural scenes (my favourite is of a wedding dress draped across a field), intricate nature paintings and a really striking screen print of two toy horses blown up to poster size.
The café itself is a stunning space, much bigger and brighter on the inside than you would know from the street. It used to be a Puccino’s and still retains the SHUT HAPPENS door signs (I love them). Multicoloured teapots and vases circle the top of the room, making the whole space seem almost that real-estate oxymoron – cosy yet spacious.
May these birds keep flying high into blue skies, and may all arty birds (of a feather) the land over keep on painting those feathered friends.
Abi Daker, art, Beat Magazine, Ben and Jerry's, birds, Dan Prescott, Edward Bawden, Firestation, Fragments, Home, illustration, Jenny Robins, Jo Cheung, Landscapes, Lazy Gramaphone, Magpies, Mill House Café, Nandos, Two Magpies Find, Wagamama, WhoWhatWhereWhenNow, Windsor, Windsor Castle, Zita Saffrette
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