Ipsden altar frontal: the clematis

Ipsden altar frontal: Clematis Jackmanii

Ipsden altar frontal: Clematis Jackmanii

Clematis montana is a real joy at this time of year, especially when spring has been so late – for those who have one – or two or three…who doesn’t rush out every morning to see how much flower cover has increased and hug themselves with delight at the result? Unalloyed pleasure, clematis is a stop the world, breathe out and be uplifted sort of plant.

Ipsden altar frontal: Clematis Jackmanii

Ipsden altar frontal: Clematis Jackmanii

We have 2 in the vicarage garden which we planted soon after we came here. They can get tangled and very knotty as they age but after 8 years ours are still just about ok in their bushiness in spite of none of the right sort of pruning which always sounds a bit too complicated for us, the most lowly of gardeners. Anyway I suspect it may be a good site for birds nests, so I have left it alone.

Ipsden vicarage gardenl: Clematis montana

Ipsden vicarage gardenl: Clematis montana

I chose not to embroider a montana as I wanted a bit of striking colour, so I opted for a Victorian cultivar, Clematis jackmanii, which ranges from purple through all shades to cerise. My embroidered flower is on the cerise end of the spectrum.

Ipsden vicarage gardenl: another Clematis montana

Ipsden vicarage gardenl: another Clematis montana

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Mary Fedden’s little soft lions

Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae (Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae (Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

One of the books I bought in Tetbury was Christopher Andrae’s Mary Fedden: Enigmas and Variations (Lund Humphries, pbk. 2014). A gorgeously produced book – the publisher has not stinted on the colour illustrations – the text is every bit as good. Brilliantly readable and fast moving Andrae whips on making all sorts of connections anybody interested in C20th art will enjoy.

Mary Fedden: little soft lion (from Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae: Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

Mary Fedden: little soft lion (from Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae: Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

After reading my blog on Eric Kennington, and his Checkendon sculpture someone rang me to pass on interesting bits of information – well, rather ancient gossip, I suppose you could call it. Did I know that a member of the family who bred the sheep that we used to have grazing in the field behind us had married a Russian artist called Polunin? Polunin, a scene painter for Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, knew Eric Kennington and upon hearing that he and his wife (met while Kennington was painting her then husband) felt the heavy breath of moral censure in Chiswick over their liaison, advised them to head for Checkendon where he assured them no one would bat an eyelid. (Chiswick more censorious than Checkendon – surely not?!) So settle in Checkendon they did – well technically Ipsden.

Mary Fedden: little soft lion (from Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae: Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

Mary Fedden: little soft lion (from Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae: Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

From Andrae I now discover that the same Polunin not only taught Mary Fedden at the Slade but was the most important influence there. “Polunin was the only person at the Slade who really interested me. He was an inspiration.” For a while she considered theatre design but realised that team work didn’t suit her. However, Polunin’s love of strong colours and use of semi geometric patterns hit an empathetic nerve and set her off developing her own distinctive and much loved style.

Mary Fedden: little soft lion (from Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae: Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

Mary Fedden: little soft lion (from Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae: Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

I lived in Chiswick for many years and often took walks past Mary Fedden’s house/studio, Durham Wharf, but there was never anything to see except for a couple of big blue doors in a brick wall. A friend was fortunate enough to visit the studio and came away having bought three paintings! Were I the jealous sort… (I’ve just done an internet search for  Durham Wharf and found it had also been Kennington’s studio before Mary Fedden and her husband Julian Trevelyan bought it!! I can’t quite work out whether the property is about to be redeveloped or whether it has been already but the architects’ drawings look a bit too smart for my taste.)

Mary Fedden: little soft lion (from Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae: Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

Mary Fedden: little soft lion (from Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae: Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

But I have digressed once more, for beyond wonderful as the book is what I loved almost more than anything else are Mary’s little soft lions. It is always a joy to discover an acknowledged artist picking up the needle and what a delight it was to discover that she made more than a hundred of these to give to babies. Here are the 4 pictured in the book.  You do wonder how many others survive and suspect most were probably loved quite literally to bits!

Mary Fedden : Irish Lion - in a private collection (from Mary Fedden: little soft lion (from Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae: Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

Mary Fedden : Irish Lion – in a private collection (from Mary Fedden: Enigmas & Variations by Christopher Andreae: Lund Humphries); pbk 2014)

 

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