Thursday, 22 January 2015

Anthony Nield - The Kentish Artist With Heart and Talent

In my job as feature writer for insideKENT Magazine (and for the soon to be launched insideSUSSEX Magazine, coming in March 2015), I get to experience a lot of interesting things. I've enjoyed wonderful meals in fantastic restaurants in order to write a review, I've been able to go out for family day trips to get a real feel for the place I'm writing about, and I've even scored press tickets to sold out shows in London - a true treat for my daughter Alice as well.

But sometimes I forget how lucky I am to do the job I'm doing. And sometimes it's other people who remind me of that fact. Recently, it was Anthony Nield, a Kent based artist, who showed me exactly how blessed I am. In the December 2014 issue of insideKENT, I did an interview with Mr Nield, whose work I had discovered online (and you can too: I'd fallen in love with his style - he works in both pen and ink and watercolours - and loved the way he had found of expressing himself. The interview went well, and both Anthony and I were pleased with the outcome.

Wonderful - it's always good to help another artist (as a writer, I consider myself to be one) and to showcase beautiful work.

A few weeks later, I was surprised to receive an email from Anthony, thanking me for the article, and offering to draw me something - my choice. I was stunned. I was excited. I was absolutely over the moon about this! With, I'll admit, a shaking hand, I replied to the email attaching a photograph of my favourite place in the entire world which is, ironically, not in Kent (or Sussex) at all, but Hampshire. It is a place called Linford Bottom in the New Forest. This is where many of my childhood holidays were spent, and this is where, at the tender age of about 6 or so, I wrote my first play. My sister and I acted it out, and we still have it on video. It was called The Juniper Tree, and it was an odd mixture of fantasy and adventure and wearing dresses as cloaks.

Linford Bottom is the place my mind goes to when asked to think of a happy place, or a favourite memory. It is the place I return to in my dreams fairly regularly. It is the place I love above all others.

So this was the place I chose to have drawn for me. For me. What a wonderful thing!

Some weeks later, Mr Nield contacted me and told me my drawing was ready. We arranged to meet up at his house, only about 15 minutes from mine in the end, for the unveiling.

So, on a cold January evening my daughter and I visited Anthony Nield on our way home from visiting my parents. We interrupted a belated (due to illness) Christmas family gathering there, but we were welcomed so warmly, and with such genuine generosity, that I could have cried with joy, especially when handed the gorgeous drawing Anthony had done for me, not because he had to, or because I had asked him to, but because he truly wanted to.

Anthony Nield, and his lovely family, have made me so happy. Thank you to them, and especially Anthony for the stunning drawing.

By the way, the bush in the middle of the picture is the fabled Juniper Tree... much magic has come from that over the years. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

New Year Fireworks

Every year I begin thinking of my New Year’s resolutions as soon as Boxing Day is done. Boxing Day is my favourite day of the whole year – Christmas and all its frantic panic and frivolity is over, and it’s time to kick back and relax, throw on a DVD, cuddle up in new pyjamas, and relax properly for the first time since finishing work for the holidays. Everyone tends to be busy doing their own thing with their new gifts, and it’s a great time to have a good think about what’s coming next.

Coming next is, of course, New Year’s Eve. Just under a week since my favourite day of the year comes this, my least favourite of all. I’ve always felt somewhat low on New Year’s Eve, there’s just something in the air that grabs at me and pulls me down, reminding me of all the things that didn’t get done in the year almost gone, and the things that should be done in the one coming up.

It also reminds me of how fast time is flying.

Which is why my first resolution this year is to strike a better work/life balance. Easier – far, far easier – said than done; as a freelancer the less I work the less money I earn. But it needs to be done. My daughter is 4 now, and those four years have shot past with indecent haste. I imagine the next four, and the next, and the next will go just as fast, if not faster. And then she will be gone, and I’ll have all the time in the world to do whatever it is I need to get done. But in the meantime, I will have missed her growing up because my back was always turned to her, my eyes more interested in what I was typing than what she was doing.

No more.

I have 9 months before she starts full time school. I intend to make the most of those 9 months, and the most of her.

My other resolutions are the same as ever – lose weight, exercise more, read more books (and review them here), do housework on a more regular basis… Maybe I’ll stick to those ones, maybe I won’t (I probably won’t).

As long as I can look back in a years’ time and say I did my best in 2015, that we had good times, that it wasn’t all about chasing the next few pounds, I’ll be happy.