Her Very Own Seaside

Molly’s Den is the name of a company that runs vast Vintage Antiques emporia in Hampshire and Dorset. We chose to visit the one in New Milton this morning. It offers several hours entertainment and the opportunity to pick up interesting bargains. There is a tea room, a very large play area, including an old bus, for children to amuse themselves for hours. The refreshments and the children’s facility provide welcome respite from wandering up and down the aisles examining the fascinating wares on display in units varying in size from a cabinet to a twelve foot square room-sized cubicle.

Elizabeth pointed out a ‘monstrosity‘, the family term for which is explained in my post of A 'monstrosity'that title. In fact the Molly’s Den one is far more tasteful than the telephone table described in that story.

Birdshit on deskAn unexpected embellishment to a desk caused me to look up to the ceiling in search of an open skylight. There wasn’t one.

As always, exploring outlets for items which for some are history and for me reminiscent of my own lifetime, I was taken back to childhood by some exhibits.The Beano The several copies of the Dandy and Beano on offer dated mostly from the 1990s. We enjoyed them at home in the 1940s and ’50s, but we had to wait for Mum to read them first. In my photograph can be seen two painter’s footprints and Elizabeth and my sandalled toes. That seemed quite a happy coincidence.

I have already featured the practical use Mum made of dressmaking patterns. Dress designsToday I noticed a rack of possible covers which were guaranteed to be contemporary with the tissue paper we sat and contemplated in our early years.Elizabeth reflectedDerrick reflected

There was plenty of opportunity for Elizabeth and me to appear in a reflective mood. I even managed a selfie.Rug

I bought an apparently unused 6 foot by 4 foot pure wool rug with hand-knotted fringes for the incredible price of £18. Jackie capped it with nine Victorian etched glasses for half that price.

For some reason Jackie and Elizabeth were amused at my efforts at photographing the glasses. I was oblivious of this as I concentrated on the subjects and got my lady to hold up a towel in an effort to reduce glare from the window. That particular device was soon abandoned because it produced a coloration that suggested that the receptacles already contained wine.Jackie assisting Derrick photographingWine glasses

Reminiscing about our respective childhoods over lunch led to discussion of those rare trips to the seaside. Jackie’s grandfather, a motor factor, always had a car; but when Elizabeth was very small our Dad didn’t, and we relied on those of uncles. I have entirely forgotten one of our outings, but my younger sister has not. She was too young to remember the venue, but the story, from about 1959, has stood the test of time. Apparently Dad, Chris and I had sneaked a small suitcase onto the beach, unbeknown to our little sister. When we got home she was presented with the container. When she opened it, there before her very eyes was a heap of sand and shells enclosed in a secure space. She had her very own ‘seaside’ with which to play in her London garden.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Woodgreen near Fordingbridge where nineteen artists feature in Hampshire Open Studios. First stop for us was to Pete and Nicky Gilbert’s idyllically sited beautifully restored home where Pete showed his paintings along with work by Hugh Lohan, Frances Barker, and Yukari. All the paintings, pastel portraits, photographs, jewellery, and woodwork were impressive. Pete’s landscapes and his life’s journey were truly inspirational. Further information can be found on his website at http://www.pgilbert.me.ukPete Gilbert

Elizabeth bought a print of one of Pete’s pieces, more of which are seen behind him in my photograph. She then dashed back for a chopping board.

We proceeded to Coach House Studio to see the work of Andrea Finn, Dawn Gear, Sarah Orchard, Sarah Waters and Wendy de Salis. These included jewellery, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, and paintings.I had a long conversation with Sarah Waters who is developing the creation of fabrics using the combination of yeast and bacteria in a glucose solution. Sarah Waters processSarah Waters textilesSarah Waters fabricsThis produces a mat of cellulose fibres which form a vegetable ‘leather’. One table displayed Kombucha, the process; and another the product, more of which was suspended against the light. Sarah’s website is http://www.sarahwaterstextiles.com

We bought three of Wendy de Salis’s ceramic birds to hang in our trees. Smokebush treeThe sun, playing in the smokebush tree in Wendy’s garden, seemed to know it was part of the group of artists.

Hordle Chinese Take Away provided their usual splendid meal for our dinner. Elizabeth and I drank more of the Cuvee St Jaine. Drank open, and enjoyed, the dry white version.

Waiting In The Wings

This morning Margery and Paul came to visit, see the house and garden, and bring me a picture I had purchased from them on 28th June.Jackie, Paul and Margery

Our friends were duly impressed with the house and garden. Margery, who has read all about our labours on this blog, thought everything was even more beautiful than she had expected. She took a great interest in all the plants in particular, and, with her keen mind, remembered what I had written about, as did Paul. Cotton lavenderIt was Margery’s son who spotted the cotton lavender plant I had not noticed before in the kitchen garden.

Paul is an excellent picture framer. Waiting in the wingsThe work I had bought at The First Gallery‘s last exhibition was a mounted piece and we had left it with him for framing. I left the materials and method to the professional, correctly believing him to be the best judge. We now have a Hilda Margery Clarke original tastefully framed monoprint & inks painting entitled Waiting in the Wings, with which we are very pleased. The photographer’s hands are reflected at bottom left. I trust Margery will forgive the intrusion.

In keeping with the art theme of the day, this afternoon we made a start on Hampshire Open Studios visits. Elizabeth had hosted one such exhibition, featuring works by herself, Margery, and me last year. Paul features in the foreground of the second picture on that post.

The first choice of venue, St. Judes in Sway, had closed a couple of days earlier. Although it was difficult to find, we had much more luck at Andrew Halliday’s workshop, also in Sway. We had a very enjoyable discussion with this attractive and personable young man who does his painting when he has time after working at antique restoration and picture framing. We also liked his work. A number of his more recent pictures feature scenes in the City of London. I was particularly intrigued to see and to discuss how the area had changed since I had worked first at Lloyd’s, then at Yorkshire Insurance company in the early nineteen sixties. Andrew HallidaySome buildings, like those in Cornhill the artist is seen here describing, remain intact, whilst others have made way for modern structures such as the ‘Cheesegrater’ looming in the background. The centrally featured ‘Jampot’, has changed its use but is a much earlier building, as is St Michael’s church in the background. It is artistic licence that an open space appears in this area where a square foot costs a fortune.

Andrew can be reached through his Facebook page, the title of which, Archipainting, reflects his interest in architecture.

We went on to Splinters in The Dance Studio at Milford on Sea. A group of artists who meet regularly to paint and exchange ideas also produced some very creditable work.

Chicken piri-piriThis evening Jackie fed us on chicken marinaded in piri-piri sauce; mixed crisp vegetables; and swede and potato mash, followed by profiteroles and blackberries. She drank Hogaarden and Elizabeth and I sampled a rather good Cuvee St Jaine red table wine.

The Firs Open Studio

Open Studio

This morning we drove to The Firs to join Elizabeth and Chris for the studio opening day.  Someone forgot to replace the electric blue fluorescent light, which added somewhat to the atmosphere.  Open Studio visitorsPond in rainAlthough the rain fell outside, we were not exactly inundated with visitors. Nevertheless there was a steady trickle and several sales were made, enabling Elizabeth to demonstrate her accounting skills. She has sold three of her handmade books. Sold print My tally is one mounted print that now bears a red sticker and nine of my cards, only two of which were bought by my sister.

In my post of 16th January, entitled ‘Gold Hill’ (click here), I tell the story of the taking of the frozen brambles photograph.  This clearly demonstrates that the only parts in the production of the two card sales featuring this image that was not played by Jackie were the pressing of the shutter release and the printing of the picture.

Several of the visitors were friends or other artists, so the day was full of congenial conversation, and the inevitable light banter.  In particular Jutta Manser and Margery and Paul Clarke stayed some time and partook of Danni’s excellent lemon drizzle cake.  Paul also had a sandwich.  By coincidence Jutta is a neighbour of Cuff Billett who appears in some of my photographs.

It was exciting seeking out Elizabeth’s mislaid sold stickers and having various attempts at manufacturing alternatives that involved a thin-tipped felt pen. Sold books Eventually Lynne went home and came back with gummed red paper that could be used with a hole punch to make diminutive red dots.  This meant that sold items had to be inserted into plastic wallets to which the stickers were attached, in order not to damage the product.  It also meant that one of Elizabeth’s work surfaces became covered in hole punch confetti.  Thus we whiled away the slacker periods.

Back home this evening we dined on Jackie’s dish of minced meat and red kidney beans flavoured with tomatoes, onions, chillis and garlic, served with wild rice and green Kenya beans.  She drank Hoegaarden and I drank La Patrie Cahors 2011.

Work In Progress


Anyone interested in the family likeness aspect of yesterday’s post may like to look at the postscript and enlarged section of the school photograph I added this morning, following Becky’s observation.  I think it is staggering.


Tomorrow The Firs opens its doors to the public.  Awaiting hanging (1)This morning we drove there with the cards and to admire the framing of my photographs and the work of all the other artists.  Work in progressThis is all taking place in the very large garage/workroom which I have never before seen as an open and available space.  The family and friends have worked brilliantly to clear it. Light on the subject You see, it has been regularly filled by a revolving conveyor belt of furniture, frames, artefacts, various woodworking materials, gadgets, and loads of tools, all of which might come in useful one day. Quite a lot of it, I understand, now lies in the conservatory, which we are advised not to attempt to enter.

Drum shelf

Margery Clarke wallThe arrangement of an excellent display space was, when we arrived, really well under way.  Jackie and I were despatched to Hobbycraft to buy hooks for Elizabeth and my photographs, and pink balloons for the front entrance. IMG_5495 Pink balloons are this year’s symbol of Hampshire’s Open Studios.

There was still a deal of setting up to do, and I was quite relieved when Chris produced another 1961 print for me to play with.  Alex Newstead, who was framing his exhibits helped me work on retrieving what we could of the original image. Chris's band copy Maybe someone will frame it in the few hours left before opening time.

I felt a bit better once Jackie and I had mounted my framed photographs on the wall.


The Firs will be open from tomorrow until Monday 26th. at The Firs, Beacon Road, West End Southampton, SO30 3BS, telephone: 023 8047 3074; e-mail dannikeenan@aol.com

Andy Milwain’s am drums will be on sale.  Art work is by:

Hilda Margery Clarke (BAHons FRSA): Painting in oils and oil pastels and drawings. She is known for figures, glimpsed or imaginative

Jutta Manser: Wood engravings: Jazz, born in oppression pictured in stark black and white

Louise Tett’s pieces are produced from discarded manuscripts

Liz Knight: Handmade books and music themed photographic prints

Photographic prints are by Rosie Aldridge, Alex Newstead and Derrick Knight, whose work features Ondekoza drummers from 1970s Soho.

Rosie and Derrick have produced greetings cards.  Derrick’s feature the New Forest, Hants and Dorset; Rosie’s are of London.  There are postcards by Margery.

Geoff Poulton and Jacqui and Harriet Lea have provided music themed sculpture, collage, and papier mache.

CylinderClearly an admirer of Duchamp’s ‘readymade’ school of art Jackie came in with a late entry this evening.  The Cylinder was quite unreasonably priced.

She and I left Elizabeth and Chris working this evening whilst we went for a meal at Eastern Nights.  We took them back a takeaway and returned to Minstead.