An English artist indulging my passion for landscape and pattern and attempting to capture a sense of a particular place.
Currently immersed in this huge writers' houses project that has taken hold of me and which happily combines my love of collage (recycling magazines) with literature, architecture, gardens and history.
Main website: www.amandawhite-contemporarynaiveart.com
Picked up Vita and Harold and others from the printer yesterday (now how does that sound?) and they are now nicely scanned, a big improvement on my uncropped distorted homemade images so thought I'd reprise them, as they say.
The Eve of St Agnes
Feeling a bit grumpy and disillusioned this morning because the rains that finally arrived yesterday seem to have vanished overnight. I stood outside in my pyjamas and whooped. The wilted gasping flowers whooped. The stressed out leaf shedding trees whooped.
The cats huddled on the window sills and looked on, mystified by water falling out of the sky.
Now we are back to searing sun by the look of it right now.
So ... back to the sketch book and drawing board.
Charleston Farmhouse. (Home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant).
I've almost finished the tiled roof which was my biggest worry when starting. The flint wall with classical heads on top is an interesting prospect. And a borrowed black swan. I love black swans.
I put the last touch to this this morning - it was the black bird flying above the tower.
Just about the largest collage I have done to date but one of my favourites I think.
You seldom see a photograph of the Nicolsons at home but there is a dog about. They seemed to be very doggy people. So I have included a couple of what appear to be overgrown terriers.
When I read about the modern history of Sissinghurst it put to shame our paltry sporadic potterings.
Vita and Harold purchased the place in 1930 for £12,000. It was in a complete state of dilapidation. It was a case of camping out in the sixteenth century tower for months. But they didn't hang about when it came to the garden which Harold designed and Vita planted on a site which had to cleared of the "accumulated rubbish of centuries."
Within seven years it was if not exactly done and dusted, certainly done and growing in the "strictest formality of design combined with the maximum informality in planting".
Their son, Nigel Nicolson, said the garden was "like their marriage - a combination of the classic temperament and the romantic.
Here they are some years later: the elderly Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West, enjoying the fruits of their labour.
... completely different to what I had envisioned.
So much for the Virgin Queen idea. Somehow or other Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson inveigled their way into the composition. Well, it WAS her tower and writing room. She and Harold saved Sissinghurst from rack and ruin in the 1930s. Here they are, a couple of decades on with no room for any regal visitors. Only dogs.
This is still up for changes but most of it is stuck down or decided upon.
Two and a bit kilos worth of cards and mini prints are at this moment winging their way to the cottage in East Sussex where Virginia Woolf (when not in London) lived, wrote, and ultimately from where she walked to her death in the nearby River Ouse.
It is now owned by the National Trust.
It is hugely exciting to have my work on sale in places where my literary heroes lived (as I said last year when I got cards and prints into Keats House). I can't remember exactly how and when I came upon Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, but I do know I was at art school, so that's almost donkey's years ago!
So here (just in case you missed them previously!) is a reprise of the images of Monk's House which will be on sale at their newly installed shop as of next week.
After a bit of dithering I decided to add figures in the stained glass sky. It needed a bit of life, I felt, and the cat on its own didn't hack it.
(It is one of young Mrs Dilke's cats, from my Winter Snows collage of Keats House, one of the ones that didn't make it into that picture but was saved in a box on my table and is now having his day elsewhere, but now with the senior Dilkes).
So this is "Old Mr Dilke's" house in Chichester where Keats stayed from January 18-23 1819 and where he began to seriously think about and possibly pen the first lines of The Eve of St Agnes, the idea for which had been prompted earlier that week by his mysterious female friend, the sophisticated, elegant and independent Isabella Jones, who had pointed out the significance of the upcoming date.
According to legend on January 20, the eve of St Agnes, young women are able to see their future husbands in a dream.
Isabella, a keen reader of Gothic tales, suggested to Keats that it would make a great theme for a poem.
So hats off to Isabella.
The figures represent Porphyro and Madeline, the protagonists of the poem. But could equally be Keats and Brawne or even Keats and Miss Jones.
The pavement is made of fragments of a letter written to the poet's brother in America in which he informs him that "nothing much happened" in Chichester:
"I took down some thin paper and wrote on it a little poem called St Agnes's Eve ..."