During the lockdowns, I have managed to keep myself busy. A daily diet of Painting, Writing and Cooking have kept me sustained. In the period of the first lockdown I created The Gold Collection, chiefly for the two upcoming exhibitions in Paris and the UK. I had hope against all odds that these would take place, but it was not to be, by the time I was due to hang the paintings, we had come out and gone back into yet another lockdown. I have amused myself in the second lockdown in returning to drawing especially with pen and ink, which I have found totally relaxing. John Wright’s mantra was “Draw everyday, even if a small amount, but draw”.
It is many years since I lived in Jimena and walked along by the River Hozgarganta, climbed the hill to the village square to a room above Ken’s Bar, where John Wrights art class was held. The lesson lasted the best part of the day with a lunch break at the local tavern at the top of the village. It was the last building before the single winding road headed off into the rolling Andalucian countryside and the next village of Ubrique. We all participated in supping the wine and eating Garbanzos, a local chickpea stew. I think the lunchtimes were the highlight of the day, especially for John, who would hold court, reminiscing on his past adventures. I am convinced our paintings were far better executed in the afternoon after a few drinks than they ever were in the mornings. John taught and painted at speed. He had everyone completing large paintings in the one lesson by the end of the day.
He taught me to push myself beyond my boundaries, look at light properly, mix colours and start off with realism and move towards abstraction. What you ended up with he called the essence of the painting. I call it the middle ground. I learnt more from him in those 4 years than at any other time in the past or present day. Many people have died since those painting days; John Wright himself, Ken of Ken’s bar, and many of my contemporaries in that class who were the same age as me at the time. I was lucky I survived, my Husband left us and headed for Portugal, and I left with my children to another life in a different country, taking with me valuable memories and advice that I had learnt there. Jimena was a beautiful place but had a dangerous edge to it which I could never quite fathom. It was too intense and too small and therefore had limitations, I could see that even at that time.
I am at the moment in the middle of writing two books, one my autobiography called Fragments of an Ordinary Life: and the other The Travelling Cookbook. I am publishing them myself through Amazon, not the ideal way of doing things, but I have had several sales of previous books that I have published there.
The Travelling Cookbook is a way of reminiscing on my life through recipes, all tried and tested favourites that I have collected along the way in my slightly nomadic life. Beneath each recipe is an anecdote of where and from whom I got the recipe. It spans a century and four countries; some as far back as the late 1800’s from my Mothers family and others quite recent from France. I love cooking only a little bit less than painting and writing. I especially pore over books and programmes on foraging. I have never tried this but I think it might be a good asset to have in the way the world is progressing.