SALLY Bamber is the latest artist to be inspired by the wild and wonderful nature of Brantwood, the former home of John Ruskin, overlooking Coniston Water.
In his day, Ruskin’s watercolour flower studies reflected his taste for small unassuming plants.
Sally has followed in the illustrious Victorian's creative footsteps but drawn predominantly to wild flowers found in Brantwood’s more hidden leafy corners - the woundworts, ragworts, and bog asphodels on the higher woodland slopes; yellow rattles, plantains and eyebrights in the hay meadow.
Having relocated from London to rural Cumbria in 2008, Sally had little knowledge of wild flowers so encountered them through an artist’s eyes rather than those of an informed botanist.
Over two years she explored the garden in its seasonal cycles.
Previously an oil painter, Sally said it was an "eye opening experience," which honed her skills with watercolours.
Her resulting paintings - 49 in all - express her delight in discovering this world of minute detail and exquisite design.
To become intimate with the beauty of small flowers demands the rare faculty of 'seeing' clearly, central to Ruskin’s aesthetic. Rooted in patience and a slowing down of time, Sally’s series embodies this freshness of vision and her love of collaboration shines through, extending the scope of her exhibition by embracing the expertise of Brantwood's amazing team of gardeners, partnered Ulverston's popular wildflower poet Maggie Norton and linked with medical herbalist Sarah Atkinson, and energy practitioner Jane Alexander; their valuable insights complemented Sally’s exquisitely crafted watercolours.
Sally's Flowers at Brantwood runs at the Coniston's venue's Severn Studio until November 1.
However, until September 27, the exhibition falls under the banner of C-Art with Sally popping into the studio each day painting flowers, showing visitors around her work and inviting visitor participation to paint and draw from the fresh flowers in the studio. An added treat will be wordsmith Maggie performing her poetry in the studio on Sunday (September 20) from 2pm-4pm.
Sally is an artist and graphic designer, working from her own studio overlooking the spectacular Duddon Valley: "My studio's in the corner of a field and looks out over ancient oaks. From here I make watercolours of wildflowers. It began with studying the flowers in my garden as a way of getting to know it. Then came the opportunity to spend time discovering the gardens at Brantwood, at first it was rather daunting because of the vastness of it.
"Brantwood's head gardener Sally Beamish brought my attention to the hay-meadow project, this aligned with wildflower paintings I have been making with poet Maggie, and from this I found a focus and a very pleasurable method of working."
For the past three years Sally has been a tutor at Brantwood running workshops in portrait painting working in oil and life drawing working with charcoal.
Her hay-meadow seed project became a community project linking Ulverston's Ford Park and Brantwood: "The hay meadow seeds on sale in the shop at Brantwood and at Ford Park have been grown, scythed and gathered at Brantwood, sun-dried, turned and assembled by wonderful volunteers at Ford Park."
Flowers at Brantwood is open daily from 10.30am-5pm. For further information telephone Brantwood on 015394-41396. www.brantwood.org.uk.