I think everyone has special childhood memories of one particular place; for me it is my grandparent’s cottage. I find that this place holds year round appeal: from the heavily blossomed cherry trees in spring, the riot of coloured flowers in summer, the fiery shades of autumn leaves, to the crackling fireside in winter.
As a child I delighted in the secret tree-lined passage way that lead down to a meadow filled by daffodils and revelled in building dens with my cousins in the wood at the back of the house, which is situated behind the bank of wild flowers. Now as adult I often draw on my cherished memories of this idyllic place for my art.
Along with a cross-stitched picture of The Cottage created by a friend of my grandmother’s, the little house now features many of my own depictions of its white washed walls and sloping lawns. I prefer to paint the cottage, in either oil, acrylic or watercolour, as pencil, charcoal, and sepia fail to capture the subtleties of colour and tone of the building.
Placed in the corner of the cosy wood lined sitting room, and slightly out of place, is a digital photo frame silently flicking through images. These pictures consist solely of photos that me and my family have captured over the years of my grandparent’s home and the family gatherings that have been hosted there.
It was not until I was searching through the green leather family albums to find images to join my own photographs on the electronic frame (that still never fails to baffle my elderly relations) that I discovered that The Cottage did not arrive in my family looking as it does today. The dusty tomes hold photos that delineate The Cottage’s journey from a tumbled down shell, through its loving restoration, to the small house that I know and love today.
It is wonderful to finally understand that the reason I am so attached to the house, its vegetable patch and flower-lined arbour is because it is the artistic creation of my family members. Even some the furniture in The Cottage was lovingly restored by my grandfather’s own hands.
Whether recording its image with a photograph or in paint I will never tire of The Cottage as a site of inspiration. I am immensely grateful to my grandparents for building what has become one of my most treasured places. They have not only created something unique, but have also recorded it in painting, photo and textile form so that generations of my family to come can at least have a glimpse of what I regard as paradise.