I went to see the Patchings Exhibition on Sunday. The art centre is in a lovely spot in a rural situation just outside the sprawl of Nottingham. According to the history that is printed on the back of the menu in the homely cafe the arts centre is a family venture and it's been in existance for about 20 years. As well as exhibition and studio facilities, it offers workshops and courses and you can hire the cafe for functions. We had Sunday dinner in the cafe, which has more of a cosy restuarant feel with a good selection of home made food. Vegetarians have three main options, and I chose the vegetarian wholemeal pie. It's table service, and a hefty quarter slice was promptly delivered, followed by, to my surprise, a dish of swede and mashed potato, a dish of carrots and cabbage and a pot of peas. All this for £6.75. Excellent value.
The Artists and Leisure Painter exhibitions are exhibited in two separated spaces, the Leisure Painter exhibition is in a small gallery adjoining a nice craft shop (The Crew Yard Gallery), the walls are a little bit crammed in here, but there are some nice things on show. I particularly liked the two Meditteranean landscapes, High Rise by Peter Dudley and Summer in the Andalucia by Maureen Haslam both of which I think could have easily been in the Artists Exhibition. This was held in the more spacious Barn Gallery just above the restaurant. There were some lovely pieces here, everything to a very high standard (I think I was extremely lucky to have my pieces exhibited here, I couldn't help feeling that I just scraped in by the skin of my teeth), the standard of framing and presentation was outstanding, my poor little shop bought frames looked very undistinguished by comparison. There were two lovely (and immacuatly presented) flower paintings by Mary Rogers, a beautiful, ssubtly rendered oil painting by Chris Daynes, a stunning and immaculate flower drawing in coloured pencil by Claire Milligan and a nice composite piece called Six in One Frame, Nudes, Collias by Richard Parkinson. There were a couple of extremely vivid paintings by Jan Gardner that really caught my eye, the reproduction on the Patchings website doesn't really do her work justice, I was particularly mesmerised by On the trail with its wash of sensuous colour, the contrasting pastel lines and the squiggle of pen and ink detail that drew me closer to the surface of this fascinating and hypnotic work. You can see more of Jan Gardner's work on her website a very colourful and energising place to visit.
One of Mary Rogers' paintings was of the Kiftsgate Rose, and co-incidentally on Saturday my friend and I visited Kiftsgate Court Gardens, a lovely private garden next door to Hidcote Manor Gardens. Kiftsgate is a lovely garden, with a small formal garden built around the house and a path decending through Scotch Pines to a crescent shaped swimming pool and a view across neighbouring fields. We sat for a while watching a poor lost sheep bleeting its heart out as it tried to find the rest of its flock.
My favourite thing of all at Kiftsgate though is the lovely water garden, stepping across onto the island and waiting for the water to start trickling from the gold leaves, losing yourself for a moment watching the pond scaters and newts in the pond, it's one of those places where adults become children again for a short time. Such a peaceful, magical spot.