Having finally packed my van and checked my list, I was finally ready to leave. Catherine waved goodbye and off I went to pick up a fellow artist an hour away. We arrived at the showground by 3.30 pm having been delayed by the famous M25 due to the carriageway being flooded. Arh! English weather eh! Anyway, we arrived a little tired but safe and ready to unload and display our artworks.
I left Mike at the Birds Birds Birds stand with his items along with three of my paintings
These were Morning Scramble above, Under Leaden Skies below left and Marsh Ghost, the owl below right. Paul Cumberland had displayed them nicely at the back of the stand. Despite many kind words and much talk during the weekend they remained unsold, although the Woodcock came very close to being sold. Only the fact that it had to go back to the publishers for scanning before the buyer could have it prevented the sale from being completed. A lesson learned, not to paint right up to the deadline and get these things done prior to a show. Oh well there was nothing that I could do at the time as I could not be consulted.
I had gone on and started setting up on my publishers stand at Sally Mitchell Fine Art, just a 100 yards away when Sally's son John (who was in charge of the stand and all proceedings) and whom until then I had only ever spoken to on the telephone, met with me for the very first time. I was warmly received and introduced to all the other members of staff and artist colleagues, Malcolm Coward, who's work I had long admired for the quality of light and impression in his paintings, Jonathan Walker, Paul Doyle, Elizabeth Scrivener and last but not least,one face I knew well my old friend Pip McGarry.
I was handed a beer, shown my booth, and left to get on with its organization and presentation in preparation for the next day. All the artists had a painting or demonstration area on the side of the main display area. It was a great space and source for a lot of fun over the weekend.
This image shows the area on Saturday as I was well into a small landscape painting, I managed four small paintings during the weekend, not all completed, but well underway. A spaniel and three landscapes.
The evenings were full of fun and good banter between us all, tired from the days talking and demonstrating, We ate and drank well comsuming some fresh lamb bought in by Elizabeth's daughter Alex. It was scrummy!
As Friday dawned I woke very early woken by the noise of those arriving late at the show to set up, so my day started at 4.20am!!!Not a great start, but hey no hangover so I could not complain too much. By the time the show opened at 7.30am I was ready and already painting. Within an hour, my painting of the Spaniel, Last Retrieve of the Day had found a new home, its new owners were extremely delighted with their decision, and I know that it will be treasured by them for many many years to come.
I had a great weekend catching up with old friends, many of whom I had not seem for many years. I also made some new acquaintances and I hope new friends in the company of Sally Mitchell and the artists with whom I enjoyed the weekend.
I will be back next year at the CLA game fair which will be held at Blenheim Palace. I shall look forward to that, especially if it turns out to be as successful as this event.
My extra display inside the Sally Mitchell stand showing the coveted red spot upon my Last Retrieve of the Day painting.
Lastly, I would just like to thank Sally and John Mitchell for making it possible for me to be at the game fair this year, and again to John and all his staff for making me feel so welcome and a member of the team. Thanks also to Paul Cumberland for displaying my paintings and for allowing me to park my camper behind his stand.
Finally I was able to see some Malcolm Coward originals for the very first time, and I can assure you I was not disappointed. They lived up to and beyond all expectation, as did the John Trickett images, also long admired, though sadly John was not there to meet in person.
So all in all a great weekend made greater by fantastic people.