‘This Green and Pleasant Land’









As the final part to the ‘Back to the Land’ project, I produced this piece of embroidery. It records which artefacts we took back to which location, and what we discussed there. There was very positive feedback from the participants, and it has certainly given me ideas for future projects. The artwork can be seen as part of the excellent ‘This Green and Pleasant Land’ exhibition on at the Royal Pump Rooms, Leamington Spa until 19th January 2014.


Drawing Day at Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum


I’m delighted to be running a drawing day for all those people who say they can’t draw – but would like to have a go!

We will be working with objects in the exhibition ‘This Green and Pleasant Land’. You will have a day of exploring and experimenting with the wonderful activity of drawing.

Saturday 26th October 11am – 4pm   £15 per person. Places are limited, please call 01926 742700 to book.



Every participant on a Repatriation Tour received a Certificate. This is one that I made for the day we took the Bean Dibber and Knife back to the allotments in Kenilworth. The embossing was done on my 1866 Albion Hand Press.

The artifacts are now safely back in the store at Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, but they will be coming out again shortly for the Rural Life exhibition that is opening on October 19th. Do hope that you can come and see them.


Today was the turn to repatriate this little beauty back to the land, a beer costerel.


And here it is in a field in Offchurch. This field looks just as it did when painted by Thomas Baker in 1864 ‘Haymaking near Offchurch’.     In this wonderful setting John, Chairman of the Heart of England branch of CAMRA, gave us a fascinating talk about the history of beer.


Our tour then walked to the other side of the village to bring beer making right up to date, to visit the micro brewery of Long Itch.


This provided the perfect ending to the ‘Back to the Land’ project. I now relinquish my title of ‘The Temporary Keeper for the Repatriation of Rural Artefacts’. My sincere thanks to the Arts Council for funding this project, Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum for commissioning me, the speakers who have generously given up their time, and finally, the wonderful participants without whom it couldn’t have happened. Here is one going home very happy!


Odibourne Allotments, Kenilworth


This was a special repatriation tour for me, full of childhood memories. When I was sent a list of possible artefacts to work with from Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, the words ‘bean dibber’ jumped out at me. I fondly remember working with my dad on his allotment with a short piece of rounded wood, used to make a hole that I then dropped a seed into. But when the object was brought out of storage, it was a completely different kettle of fish. This was heavy, sculptural, it meant business!

We were given a wonderful tour of the Odibourne Allotments by Chairman Mike Hitchins, being shown the thriving community here – here an example of a scarecrow submitted for their competition.


The tour covered social, cultural, ecological and historical aspects. Here the Mike is showing us where, long ago, the mill was situated.


Canalside Community Food


Today ‘Back to the Land’ visited Canalside Community Food. On the right of the photo you can see Vicki Slade, Senior Curator atLeamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum introducing the two humble artefacts that we repatriated today. A milk bottle from the Clyde Higgs Dairy and a brick from Milverton.

Ruth Wallsgrove kindly came and gave us a fascinating talk buying local, Transition Towns and Action 21. We then ventured forth to see the wonderful work that goes on here to produce beautiful fruit & veg. If you ever get the chance, do check it out.


Goodrest Farm


Today on my ‘Back to the Land’ project we went to Goodrest Farm on the outskirts of Kenilworth. One of the artefacts we took back was a Foot Iron, these were slipped on over shoes to protect the latter. I had found this artefact particularly emotive.

John and Brenda Semple, far right at the back of the photo, and their son Paul treated us to a fascinating account of farming from their childhood to the present day.

IMG_2206   John and Brenda telling a rapt audience about their     cows. As one participant said, ” These Back to the Land” tours are very engaging – and very quirky.”