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I ran a really lovely feature recently with the director of the Oxfordshire Art Weeks where we illustrated her favourite places in Oxon with art from the featured artists. For Bucks Open Studios we’ve gone one better – 6 artists themselves have each chosen their favourite place in the county, and in some cases have created art from scratch to represent it.
Bucks Open Studios starts next Saturday (7 June) and runs until 22 June, and is absolutely one of my favourite dates in the Muddy calendar, brimful of unusual characters, gorgeous art, demos in special locations and some real bargains. Check out your nearest Art Weeks locations here and support your local artists.
Marlow and surrounds – by Nicola Metcalfe (illustrator)
I’ve lived in Marlow nearly my entire life and love to stroll along the river towards Bisham church, or stand on the bridge and watch the sun go down. All locals love Rebellion Brewery – the pride of Marlow Bottom, and purveyors of the finest ales for miles around! Or if I feel like the quintessential English tea room experience, I go to Burgers, the Swiss chocolatiers, resident in Marlow since the 1940s. Ironic I know, but there you have it!
Nicola Metcalfe lives with her two children and two chickens in Marlow and has been illustrating all her life. She enjoys adding a contemporary twist to familiar architectural landmarks and her work can be seen in John Lewis and the Tate. See her at Bucks Open Studio
The stile at Loosley Ridge – by Sally Fisher (artist)
This painting is of the stile and Ridgeway walk at Loosley Ridge, Loosley Row, near Princes Risborough, painted especially for Muddy Stilettos! This is actually my evening sunset walk to smell the fresh air and listen to the wind and evening birdsong after my working day. It is also my regular five-field walk to Smalldean Farm to buy free range eggs and sing to the chickens who sometimes jump onto the gate and let you stroke them. Loosley Ridge is an ancient pre-Roman pathway with stunning views across the Saunderton Valley, past Lodge Hill and Chinnor dissolving into mauves and blues towards Oxford. On the horizon to the north west you cans see the rise of Quainton and Dinton.
I moved back to Bucks four years ago after my father died, and walk and paint a lot in these fields as the colours of the changing seasons of the hedgerows and trees, the smell of the air and incredible views are a constant inspiration which never cease to uplift me. Sheep graze on the slopes with their lambs as kites soar above the vast space. You can fly kites too, picnic safely, make dens in the woods, look for pyramid orchids, and the many varieties of wild flowers and butterflies in the meadows. Smalldean Farm offers tea & coffee and ice cream as well!
Burnham Beeches National Nature Reserve, located just near Farnham Common, is one of the best examples of ancient woodland in Britain. Nearly 220 hectares, it’s famed for its beech and oak pollards, many of which are more than 400 years old is also teeming with a rich variety of fungi, plants and animals.
My ceramics are inspired by the natural world and being here,watching all the seasons unfold gives me limitless ideas to work with. The fern fronds unfurling in the dappled sunshine of spring through the canopy. The expanses of bluebells carpeting the ground beneath the soaring red kites in the clearing. Beautiful wild flowers which promote a wonderful array of butterflies in the summer. As part of The Grazing Restoration Project, there are also wild ponies released each year around April-May, so well worth a visit with the children if only to see the animals!
Sophie Bruen lives in Chalfont St Peter with her daughter Isabella and their border terrier Daisy Doodleabras, creating her ceramics from her home studio.
Pednor, nr Chesham – by Jenny Kaye (photographer)
I walk in Pednor every week with a couple of friends – we usually get out early in the morning and set a brisk pace, walking 8 km (5 miles) in a circular loop. It’s a fantastic start to the day – some fresh air, good exercise and lots of girlie chat. It’s a lovely peaceful place and it gives me inspiration for any outdoor photo sessions I am planning. From week to week it looks different as the flowers and animals change. The bluebells looked amazing this year and the fields of buttercups are almost as good. Even the dandelion clocks look incredible at the moment! From a practical point of view, the route is all on the road/country lanes and is circular, so it is accessible all year round and doesn’t get too muddy – the only hazard being an enormous puddle that appears about once a year when the rains have been very heavy. Soggy socks that week…
Jenny Kaye is a local portrait photographer with a home studio in Beaconsfield, and is exhibiting at at Studio 24 in the town.
Misbourne Valley, by Rosina Flower (artist)
The inspiration for this painting came from a walk through the Misbourne Valley, starting at Amersham Cricket Club, following the South Bucks Way along the River Misbourne to Little Missenden. The path skirts the edge of Shardeloes Lake, a wonderful place to stop and view the abundant wildlife. Swans, heron, moorhen, coot, geese and many other water birds share the still waters of the lake and nest or roost undisturbed on an island set far from the banks. Above the lake, to the left, is the imposing Shardeloes Manor, adorned with Robert Adam’s grand portico. Now converted to apartments, but originally home for 300 years to the Drake family, ancient squires of Amersham.
With the estate woodland rising on one side, and the Chiltern Hills above Amersham on the other, the path continues along the valley following the River Misbourne, where, if you are lucky, you may see Kingfishers darting along the banks. The path then takes you to Little Missenden with its ancient church, manor house, and pubs. A beautiful village, with water meadows and brown brick houses, it is dominated by the tower of St John the Baptist Church. Originally Saxon, this pretty church welcomes visitors and has a tranquil atmosphere. You could end the walk here or in one of the charming village pubs.’
Originally from London, Rosina Flower lived in New York before eventually settling in Buckinghamshire where she established her studio. More information and images can be found on her website www.rosinaflower.co.uk. Find her at Bucks Open Studio
Coombe Hill – by Violeta Corzao (jewellery designer)
One of my favourite places in the area is Coombe Hill. It’s the highest point in the Chilterns and the view of Aylesbury and the surrounding areas is beautiful. I’ve been going to Coombe Hill since I was a child. Growing up my mum and dad used to love going for impromptu picnics and we often used to call on my then next-door neighbour Mrs Kennedy and take her with us. My mum would have quickly rustled up a Spanish omelette and a salad and we would have our feast on the hill whilst trying to see if we could find the street where we lived in the distance. I love the walk up to the monument which is quite open and once you get nearer you can start to see the chequered landscape where the horizon looks as though it will never end. Walking around to the left hand-side overlooking the Chequers Estate the landscape changes, the number of trees on the hill increase and you walk through a more wooded area.
Walking through these woods has given me inspiration for many of my pieces of work. More recently for my tiaras, the way that the branches inter-twine in the woods, no two branches or leaves are ever the same, the woods have a magical feel which is what I try to convey with the tiaras. I twist the wire and intertwine the pearl and crystals in branch-like forms and then piece them together, very much like the trees in the woods no two pieces of work are ever identical. The crystals remind me of the sunlight hitting the raindrops on the leaves.
Violeta Corzao lives in Aylesbury and has a full-time job. In her spare time she designs and make silver jewellery and tiaras her garden workshop with Sarah Wood, under the name SilverSilverSilver.co.uk. Find SilverSilverSilverco.uk at Bucks Open Studio
Hillesden walk – by Sarah Wood (jewellery designer)
My design inspirations come from the countryside surrounding my home of the last 15 years. A favourite is a circular walk around the tiny hamlet and fields surrounding Hillesden. The horizon is magnificent in all seasons, the rolling fields, trees and the conservation area for birds. A surprising hidden gem is the 13th century church, All Saints, known as the ‘cathedral in the field’. The dramatic countryside in such a rural part of Buckinghamshire constantly inspires me to look at different perspectives and create new ideas. This season I’ve taken inspiration from the new spring leaves, to create an individual handmade sterling silver pair of earrings. Using a real leaf, coated in silver, showing all the detail of the leaf then, oxidising to highlight all the texture adding a contemporary feel.
Sarah Wood is based in North Buckinghamshire. A married mother of three, she is an avid walker with an energetic golden cocker spaniel called Pudding. She runs SilverSilverSilver.co.uk with Violeta Corzao. Find SilverSilverSilverco.uk at Bucks Open Studio