Still Hanging Around

This post is the one I wrote but seem to have failed to send yesterday, 17th February 2017.


Yesterday evening Jackie, Elizabeth and I visited Southampton City Art Gallery for a preview of:

17 February to 22 April 2017
An exhibition of paintings by Hilda Margery Clarke to celebrate her 90th year.  She was born in Manchester and learnt to paint through the guidance of L.  S.  Lowry, with whom she remained life-long friends until his death in 1976.  She moved to Southampton in 1954, and studied drawing under the excellent tuition of Peter Folkes at Southampton Art College.  Since 1965, Clarke has exhibited locally and in London, and remained an important part of the city’s art scene.  In 1984, she established “The First” Gallery in her Bitterne home, consolidating ten earlier annual mixed shows there, as a venue to support other serious artists, only latterly promoting her own work.
Her subject matter includes the world around us and beyond, glimpsed and imagined, interpreted with compassion and warm humour, evident in her interest in people.  The exhibition will be accompanied by a small display of works from the collection by artists that have inspired Clarke, including L.  S.  Lowry, Richard Eurich and Eric Meadus. 

Most of you will know by now that the artist is our dear friend Margery, some of whose work has already featured on this blog.

Although I haven’t really done full justice to the painter’s colours, I think readers will get the picture from this selection of prolific creativity spanning such a long, active, life. The exhibition was so well attended that it was not possible to photograph all the labels without intruding on visitors’ privacy. Unfortunately there was no catalogue, but Margery’s son Paul may have the time to offer supplementary detail. (Please see Paul’s invaluable series of comments below, for which I am most grateful)

Derrick, Margery, and another

Rachel Adams a photographer covering the event for the Southampton Echo, was kind enough to duplicate one of her poses of Margery and two friends with my camera.

Afterwards we dined at BrewHouse & Kitchen microbrewery and restaurant in Highfield, Southampton. This large establishment was very full. It was a good thing that Elizabeth had booked a table. Dutch, Belgian, and English beers were consumed by my sister, Jackie, and me respectively. My main meal was spicy cajun gumbo served with long grain rice and the addition of a few of the chips provided with the ladies’ special burgers. We all enjoyed magnificent sundaes which would ideally have taken a month in which to eat them.

We are quite optimistic that a large number of further buckets of water applied by Jackie this morning has finally cleared our unsavoury septic tank pipes.

This afternoon we took two large orange bags of rooted bamboo to the Efford Recycling Centre. Now we have no excuse for filling more green refuse, which we will first have to cut.

Our dinner this evening was enjoyed at Daniels Fish and chip restaurant in Highcliffe. We both chose cod and chips. Jackie supplemented hers with mushy peas and mozarella sticks; my addition was pickled onions.

Hanging Around Part 2


For once I have not featured my archive material on a rainy day post, for I had yesterday’s images from Margery’s exhibition that I had not had time to upload last night.


As will be seen from this front page of the promotional leaflet, ‘Hanging Around’ is a prelude to an important exhibition next spring.


I featured a photographic portrait of the artist in ‘Hanging Around Part 1’. The leaflet contains a pen picture.


Here are visiting details for those fortunate enough to be within striking distance.

With work going on around me, I photographed a few of the works at random.

Handmade books

It is only three or four years ago that my sister, Liz Keenan, taught Margery to create handmade books, and she has brought her own stamp to them.

Painting 1

The wonkiness of these images is nothing to do with the hangers, but is all the responsibility of the photographer. Since the pictures had mostly not yet been labelled, I cannot give the titles, but most tell their own story. Margery’s sensitivity shines out of this one that leaves the viewer to supply the subject’s thoughts, which will probably reflect their own.

Cyclist painting

The Cyclist appears in one of the artist’s small rectangular formats, and amply displays her renowned humour.

Friends painting

We smile with Margery at these two friends staggering home from their hostelry.

Painting 2

Clarke is equally at home with a large scene, making full use of its space.

Painting 3

The year before Margery painted these dancing nuns in 1964, the Belgian Dominican Sister Luc Gabriel, known to us as the Singing Nun, recorded this hit:

Was our friend influenced by this, I wonder? (See Paul’s comment below; and his longer one describing the influences of other pictures)

Painting 4

Even garbage collectors are represented with a sense of fun. How is he going to pick up his lid?

Painting 5

High Steps appears in the leaflet;

Painting 7

as does Pub Interior, displaying the artist’s innate sense of composition and perspective.

Painting 6

It looks as if a joyful greeting is taking place here.

Painting 8Painting 11Painting 12

Margery is also capable of dramatic landscapes;

Painting 9

and grand scenes like Assembling In The Square.

Painting 12

She enjoys musical themes

Painting 10

and a chuckle is never far away.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent chilli con carne with rice and peas, followed by lemon meringue pie ice cream. We both drank sparkling water.

Hanging Around Part 1


Although Aaron has been promised a sturdy third-hand greenhouse for us, the Head Gardener is determined to get some use out of two flimsy flat-packed garden centre apologies for the items that she bought but didn’t use last year. She placed them in the shelter of a corner of Aaron’s nice new fence.  During the recent winds these were blown down

Greenhouse joints broken

and some of their plastic joints smashed.

Greenhouses flimsy

Jackie repaired these with duct tape and we nailed the structures to the fence.

As I pierced the pristine boards with nails, I thought of the pain of seeing Sam’s first cut. This was the earliest blemish on a perfect skin.

Later this afternoon Jackie drove us to West End to visit Mum; to Bitterne to drop in on the preparation for the Private View of Margery’s 90th Birthday Painting Exhibition, wittily entitled ‘Hanging Around’; and to The Farmer’s Home at Durley where we met Elizabeth for a meal.

The food and service at the pub was as first rate as ever. My choice was tender lamb shank in a lovely mint gravy, perfect new potatoes, and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, followed by creamy Eton mess. I drank a pint of Ringwood’s best while waiting for my sister, then shared a carafe of merlot with her. Jackie drank Amstel.


Here is a portrait of Hilda Margery Clarke, the artist herself, but it is far too late for me to upload the photographs of her works that I made while the exhibition was going up around me, so I will publish those in the morning.

Good night for now.

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.

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

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.

A Margery Clarke Original

Card making

The Castle Malwood Card Making Factory is in production.  A very pleasant morning was spent producing forty seven cards from the pictures I printed a few days ago.  I print the photos and inscribe the finished cards after Jackie has Pritt sticked them onto blanks bought from Hobbycraft.  This has the benefit of her sometimes rather inventive cropping of those that are the wrong shape or size for the range we obtained at the shop.  Sometimes she has managed to make more than one card by chopping up a print – something I couldn’t have borne to do.

If we don’t sell any we should have enough for quite a few birthdays and special occasions to come.

Margery and Paul joined us for a salad lunch.  Jackie laid on an excellent spread for our visitors.  Margery, a professional artist, will be exhibiting at The Firs Open Studio, so it was natural that our respective works formed one of the topics of conversation.  Coincidentally called The First, their gallery has regular exhibitions.  I was therefore flattered when our guest suggested I submit some of the greetings cards at one.

We had forgotten to take the bread out of the freezer, but fortunately the sun’s rays were hot enough in the garden to provide a reasonable defrosting facility.  When she presented us with a gift she had made, Margery said she could have saved us the bother of the defrosting. Margery's loaf It was a small loaf embossed with our initials.  This of course can never be eaten.  It is not every day one is the recipient of a Margery Clarke original.

Incidentally the container in which the bread was transported is a Carte D’or one that had originally held vanilla ice cream. Carte D'OrI’ve always thought it pretty smart marketing of the descendants of Tom Wall to rename their product giving it an exotic title and a new lease of life.  I wonder whether the consultants who came up with the name and the rather effective logo cost as much as those who produced the angular design and weird mascots for our 2012 Olympics.

It was a shame to have to bring our party to a close because I had a GP appointment in Lyndhurst for another attempt to burn a wart off my left shoulder.  The very gentle young doctor who had tried a couple of months ago thought that she possibly hadn’t been severe enough last time, so I invited her to inflict more pain.  There was certainly a little extra piquancy this time.

St Michael & All Angels ChurchI had arrived ten minutes late, because of the usual traffic congestion entering the village.  She had been held up in the same jam, so it didn’t matter.  Actually I was a little more tardy than necessary.  We took the Emery Down route which is always less blocked than the A337.  The tailback did in fact start quite early.  We seemed to be getting nowhere so I decided to disembark, walk up to St. Michael & All Angels church and down through its precincts to the surgery.  I would meet Jackie later in the car park.

Readers could probably write the next few sentences for themselves, but I would rather like to do it myself.  After all, it is my blog.

After a few yards, the vehicles started moving again and I soon watched Jackie drive past.  We both imagined she would be held up again.  She wasn’t.  The next I saw of her was the car in the doctors’ car park.  She wasn’t in it.  She was standing at the reception desk explaining that I had been a little delayed, but was on my way.

This evening we dined on battered haddock and unbattered chips, and shared a bottle of Prestige Calvet Semillon Sauvignon 2011.

The Stump

Between showers today we got quite a bit of planting done.  We managed to insert three different varieties of fuchsia; a centranthus; phlox; two types of lingularia; various cranesbill geraniums; nasturtiums; two heliotrope; comfrey; two companula and a verbascum, all under the guidance of Jackie who has masterminded the garden design, building on Elizabeth’s original ideas.  An obsolete bed I had cleared a couple of weeks ago was seeded with grass; and Jackie and I re-staked a wisteria.

I have often written about our regular trips to The Firs, but have not yet explained how these came about.  Elizabeth has a lovely garden attached to a house which was the home of Richard Barbe-Baker (see 26th. May post).  As she is now on her own in the large house, the garden has proved too much for her to manage.  Jackie and I have each, for different reasons, in recent years, had to leave gardens of our own, and been unable to find suitable accommodation in London which includes one.  In my case I left an acre in Newark when I returned to London after Jessica’s death. The three of us have always got on very well; it therefore made sense for us to spend most weekends at The Firs. Jackie and I enjoy the company, the hospitality, and, mostly, the exercise. Elizabeth enjoys the company and the help.  Another happy coincidence is that Elizabeth’s home is 10 minutes’ drive to Southampton airport from whence I travel by Flybe plane to Bergerac en route to my house in Sigoules.

My individual project for the day was making a feature of the stump of a false acacia felled some years ago.  Retaining as much moss as possible I weeded it a bit, took up some couch grass, and composted the hollowed out centre.  The centranthus mentioned above is now part of this, as is a staked climbing fuchsia.

For afternoon tea we were joined by the artist Margery Clarke and her son Paul, who have become good friends.  This was in honour of my birthday.  Margery had made me a birthday card, but Elizabeth could not remember where she had put it.  She had phoned Paul in the week to see if she had left it at their home.  She hadn’t.  Margery came armed with a duplicate ‘to save [Elizabeth] embarrassment’.  However, after a frantic search before the artist’s arrival, Elizabeth did find the first card.  I now have two Margery Clarke originals.  Each is slightly different, Margery having wittily incorporated the theme of crosswords into a 70th. birthday card.

Given that we’d had what Danni called a ‘quaint’ tea of cucumber sandwiches; scones, cream and jam; and lemon cake, neither Jackie nor I thought we’d be able to manage either of the culinary options Elizabeth proposed.  We therefore picked over the leftovers with a glass of wine/beer.  This was after we had set a bonfire. There had seemed to be a break in the weather so Jackie had got one going and I had joined her in breaking up material for it.  A very bad decision that turned out to be.  No native American or Australian rainmaker could possibly have had the success we did in conjuring up the opening of the heavens.  By the time I’d got the tools away and we’d fled inside, the bonfire was extinguished and my shirt had become a second skin. Nothing for it but to open a second bottle of wine.

Rather later than usual we returned to Links Avenue where the concrete path from the road to the front door was full of snails risking their lives.