I went to art school in the eighties, it was a time of big hair, home made outfits and lots of dancing.
I left art school with just a "Penny" to my name. For many years I lived in rented bedsits, rooms in shared houses and on one occasion, a stock cupboard in a weaving factory in Devon.
In Devon I met an artist who lived in a shed on an allotment and another who lived in a tent by the side of a boat yard. I thought to myself, "This must be what being an artist is all about!" I drove old battered cars, wore long floaty frocks and frequently fell in love.
I rented an old fisherman’s cottage that was colder inside than it was outside I burnt wood from skips on the fire to keep warm, including, by accident a friend’s wood carving of a stoat. Life was hard being an artist......but it had its moments.
In Devon I met an Australian and, mesmerized by his sense of humour, I soon found myself saying "I do" under a gum tree on the other side of the world! It had happened...I had become a "Sheila".
My new home was a converted garage with broken fly screens. We shared our home with several others; a possum who liked to stay out late, arriving with a thud in the attic at 3 am each morning; a gecko who lived on the wall in the kitchen; an army of determined mosquitos; and, if we were unlucky, the occasional spider!
I set up a sign making business. My first workshop was a crab picker's shed with no windows but it did come with a fan heater.
“Come to Bristol” my sister said and kindly offered me her spare room. In Bristol I taught people to paint and draw.
By the early nineties I had left the land of Kookaburras, wild bush land and tin roofs. This time, I was not just penniless but homeless as well, and soon to be divorced.
Bristol was a time of colourful parties and social events. I established an eclectic mix of friends and adopted a large cat who weighed in at one stone.
In Bristol I met a photographer and on our first date he cooked me a meal to remember, the strangest casserole I have ever eaten with ingredients that included sweet pickle and pineapple. This delight of a first course was followed by a rice pudding made with Basmati rice, which after four hours was still uncooked!
I have lived in Somerset since 2003; Somerset brings with it yet more inspiration, farmyards with all their glory, countryside, wild life in abundance and many more characters to meet.
Home is an eclectic mix of all sorts, filled to the brim with the results of foraging in charity shops, car boot sales, garage sales and auctions, up cycling, re cycling and perhaps a little “Maximilism”. A place for everything and everything in it's place....or not. It would be fair to say I am not keen on dusting.
The influence of "Maximalism" has been extended to the garden; ornaments galore, watering cans filled with nasturtiums and, in amidst the Lobelia, you might occasionally find the odd tea pot! Gardening is a favourite pastime of mine.
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Based in Somerset, England