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Our cook today was Faye Suzannah, who produced a great Mexican lunch and lots of cakes, and even found time to do some screenprinting in the studio in between.

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Faye’s drawing

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The photographic screen she has created from the drawing,  through which the colour is pressed

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The printed flowers (first colour of the print)

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hung up to dry

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And here’s a finished screenprint of the White Field that she did a couple of weeks ago.

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Jim arrives with a load of oak…

Fast forward nearly 3 weeks from the first workshop, and Jim Blackburn turns up with a trailer full of green oak timber, an amazing sponsorship gift from his suppliers. So it was all systems go with the introductory course to green woodwork timber framing on the bank holiday Saturday just past.

First, a fascinating and informative presentation about timber framing – this has all been going on for hundreds of years, and we will all look at old barns differently from now on, as careful inspection reveals a multitude of information on when, who, what, how…

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Jim’s introduction to Green Oak Framing

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The good old Dove kitchen table! With cooks Faye Suzannah and Lois Wulff in the background, waiting to reclaim the space for lunch.

An introduction to tools followed, and then a demonstration on how to lift heavy timber without hurting yourself – all about gravity, levers and fulchrums (fulchra??)

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Lifting practice

followed by lunch – this has to be an essential part of every communal activity.

And then: outside to practice marking up the timber and then cutting it, working in pairs:

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Jemma and Marcel

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Ange and Clare

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Zan and Jya

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Bethan and Joe (and Jim)

And something very important has stayed in my head since Jim’s presentation: that this ancient craft of timber framing is precisely still relevant today because of the fact it HAS to be a group, communal activity, and that these groups were – and still are – often itinerant, spreading and sharing their skills and methods across borders and ages, a free movement of people, ideas, trade, knowledge – yes, come on everyone, bring it on!

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Faye’s apple blossom sketches

Easter Sunday, and artist Faye Suzannah and dog Mango came to stay for a week’s residency in the Door House. The perfect week to choose, with blossom bursting out all over, as here in the Whitefield

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Happy dog

and here on the ash trees (sorry, not blossom: embryos already! A fecund tree)

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Ash trees getting on with the business of procreation

Other artists were attracted to the Nature bounty that is going on:

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Corinne sketching in the Dove Meadow

Meanwhile Faye was making excursions into a poly tunnel

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A tropical world, and it’s just next door.

where she sketched the flag irises (not often you find a pond in a poly tunnel) and became intrigued by the entwined fig branches

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Figs and Flags by Faye

while I was mesmerised by a falling peach blossom that never made it to the ground:

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Frozen in time

On the following Saturday it was Artists’ Book Club Dove day in my studio, and after discussing our current book theme ‘Repetition’, we drew a new topic for the month ahead out of the pot: ‘Tracks’. Which made me think of the animal tracks running through the flowers on the Whitefield, so we made our way round there after lunch; across Wild Lea (which I wanted to call Broad Lea because it is always broad whichever way you look at it and therefore in need of a panoramic photo. The Dove used to be known as Broad Moor farm not so long ago and you can see why from this photo)

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Broad Lea? Getting wilder, anyway

The sheep have been ‘borrowed’ from a nearby farmer: they are large, and so I’m told, prize-winning Charolais sheep that are grazing the tough rye grasses that were planted on this field over the past few years. But new grasses are appearing fast, and we are hoping for a gradual change to meadow grasses and flowers. Then into the Whitefield with its glorious carpet of cowslips (a cowslippy year, said a friend).

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Making tracks through the Whitefield

Back to base via the Dove Meadow, where Clare hopped like a bird onto Olivia’s ‘perch”. This little platform that we put up last year is to be the start of the Tree house project starting this coming Saturday, 6th May, places still available in the enthusiastic group that is forming around this venture…come and join us in the trees!

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First venture back into the trees