I Know a Four Year Old Could Have Done it But I Couldn’t be Prouder

Sue and I were welcomed into the conservatory which serves as Lydia Haines‘ studio. It was a hot day so the temperature inside was bikini appropriate. Around us hung her giant silk paintings and her prints on fabric and paper. She gave us both screens to paint on, encouraging us to experiment, not worrying about trying to make them look perfect, advice Sue ignored as she thoughtfully dabbed away for twenty minutes. When the screens had dried we flipped them over onto paper. Lydia brought out some special seaweed gunk she herself had knocked up that morning, it looked like wallpaper paste. We plopped some into the frames and immediately the paint colours were drawn up into it. We spread the gunk all over the screen, squeegeeing it back and forth, lastly sweeping it off. Then the reveal. We lifted up the screen, peeling back the paper and ta dah! Mine is the brown stripy one, Sue’s is the green and blue one that looks like a tree.

I love the separation between artist and composition that printing provides. The final result is hidden even from the creator until the last moment. It feels magical, surprising.

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Art Doesn’t End at Eighty

Winnie and I dropped in to see Colin Bygrave late one Open Studio day. He took us out to a small square building at the bottom of his cottage garden. Inside the walls were crazy paved with his atmospheric etchings of English lanes, oriental looking trees and rain filled mud tracks. A table was heaped with books, enthusiastically filled for decades with sketches of everything he sees. Retirement from teaching has freed Colin to skilfully chase hares of his choosing, namely etchings, oils and watercolours. He chatted with us unhurriedly, explaining different processes and conveying the gripping thrill of peeling back the paper to see the print for the very first time. He is a gallant, fascinating, modest, gentle man. At a print fair or gallery (maybe) near you.

Mr. Bygrave is probably nowhere near 80, but I put 80 because grandparently types always say to me “How old do you think I am?” and I think/say “67” and they say “No, 104”.