Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Evoking a Rural Idyll - The Cotswolds Home of Laurie Lee

"Rosebank" Laurie Lee's home in Slad
Cottages nestling into a verdant hillside, Queen Ann's lace frothing in the lush hedgerows, echoing sounds of farmers and countryfolk as they toil in their tiny green valley. These are images painted by the author Laurie Lee.

I studied this book for English 'O' - level and loved every word. As we hunched over our texts in stifling hot classrooms Lee transported me to his rural idyll. I have since read several books about rural life but none have the emotional potency of 'Cider with Rosie'. His skill lies in how to evoke nostalgia through the lens of a child with the skills of a poetic author.

I don't know how he and his family came to stumble upon this cottage back in 1917, there was no rightmove in those days. There must have been so many cotswold villages that would have suited Annie Lee's sprawling family just as well but luckily for us the family landed here, in this beautiful vale, at that point untainted by the spread of mechanisation and technology.

Blissfully unaware that she was involved each day in off grid parenting Annie Lee raised her family single-handedly with no running water or electricity.

He depicted a slower life, one rooted to the natural world and where people had purpose. His imagery suggest a happy, homely nest of safety and adventure issuing from every window and door of the house. A place to surge out of and to ebb back into after a day of play in the green landscape.

I'm not denying that life was harder in many ways in the past but I yearn for a meaningful connection and Laurie portrays a place into which I could easily submerge...

Designing artwork for my next issue of The Pottering Artist I fancied creating postcard.

On cotton rag watercolour paper I saturated the cream surface with water and dropped in random puddles of pistachio and evergreen and let it run taking care to avoid the building shape.

Employing a flat brush charged with stronger hues of green I punctuated the stone cottage at its edges with darker passages to suggest it's burgeoning trees and felt a swell of excitement as the scene started building before me. 

Frilling and flouncing foxgloves and wildflowers sway in the loosely washed in foreground after I had sketches tiny black in florets across the breadth of the bank along the cottage. 

As a backing to the card I used a faded version of the original and added a few flourishes and whimsies which I hope partner well. Want some cards? I have them to sell at 50p each. Email me at alisonfennellart@hotmail.com.


In my mind I recalled such days of carefree pottering and wandering in my own youth in the days when it was safe to roam around the village until it was too dark to see.

Do you remember safer and more carefree times? Would you like to describe childhood memories? Please share below and we'll reminisce together.

The full article "Judging a Book by its Cover" will feature in Issue 3- "Rooted"-  of The Pottering Artist - out on 1st June and published 

by https://www.blurb.com/user/artcabin https://www.blurb.com/user/artcabin


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