I am resting, ( and writing!) now until 2pm this afternoon, when the doors to the 66th Castle Cary Gardening Association Annual Show open, and Mr C and I can enter the hall and see if our entries have won any awards.
This is the third year, not consecutive, that I have entered anything, the first that I’ve entered more than three classes. In fact I entered 9 classes, out of the 23 I wanted to enter but knew time nor energy would allow me to complete. This last week was not the time to embark on a knitting, sewing or handcrafting project, no matter how many such projects are completed in my head, just waiting for the opportunity to flow out!
I have to say that I am extremely proud of the two ‘First Prize’ awards that my flap jacks received in previous years, both times I entered them. Even my step son boasts about my prizewinning flap jacks, although he still doesn’t eat them, in case I’ve put nuts in.
This year I’ve stretched myself, I’ve entered a drawing.
That’s something I thought I’d never do. When I was a professional artist I wouldn’t have dreamt of entering my paintings to compete with locals, and their politics, thinking that if they didn’t like me, or my gallery, then I wouldn’t win. Actually, I was mostly fearful of rejection, aren’t we all?
When I first fell ill and was repeatedly told by Doctors that I wouldn’t be able to return to my career, they, and others consoled me by saying that I could paint for ‘pleasure’ and maybe exhibit locally. I couldn’t imagine ever doing such a thing. I painted to be exhibited in world class exhibitions, I wasn’t ready to be judged by those who I thought wouldn’t appreciate the quality of what I was producing. What an Ego!
So what has changed? Although I painted for a living for over twenty years, I still only painted what I wanted to paint, and never directly produced work ‘just to sell’, however it was very important to me to have my work acknowledged and accepted, and even thought of as the ‘best’ in it’s field. The greatest honour to me was someone actually wanting to spend their hard earned cash on a painting I created.
This week I drew a honey Bee. I found one of my bees, probably dying, laid in the grass behind my hive. I picked her up and brought her to our garden table. I proceeded to sketch her as I fed her some water with a drop of honey.
She could have been old, dehydrated or just plain exhausted. I learned so much from studying her, and how she drank the water, but was unable to move very far or open her wings. I put her on a flower in our living room over night, and then in the morning I put her amongst some nasturtiums. By lunch time she had disappeared, no body to be found so I can only presume she was eventually able to fly.
It is from these sketches that I did my drawing , framed it and have entered it into the flower show. The interesting thing is that I am glad it is anonymous, and I really don’t mind if it isn’t placed in the top three. I genuinely enjoyed producing a drawing, I loved the studying and remembering the techniques I haven’t used in years. This is something I never thought I would be doing again so happily.
I’ve also entered flapjacks again, along with chocolate brownies and a chocolate courgette cake. Somewhere in my subconscious I was baking to win as I used ‘normal’ sugar and flour, instead of my usual experimentations with gluten and wheat free cakes sweetened with anything but sugar. Maybe I feel those cakes are not to be tried on an unsuspecting judge without warning. Overall though I am just pleased to have produced a reasonable batch of cakes that should last a few days as treats for my boys.
The entry that I most enjoyed though is my miniature garden. This brings back fond memories of my youth in Yetminster, Dorset. Twice a year there were ‘Flower shows’ and my family and many of my friends would all enter in as many classes as we could. My favourite class was the miniature garden, and it was such fun that over the past week I remembered all the little tips I’d learned as a child. I’d also been inspired by some ‘Fairy gardens’ made from broken flower pots, that have been circulating around Facebook recently. I even had a friend take me to Glastonbury where I’d heard a shop sold ‘Fairy doors’.
In Yetminster our next door neighbours were Artists and they had the most magnificent house and orangery where the art exhibits would be displayed.( Maybe that’s where my early connection with Art, artists and fine houses came from, rather than the usual starving artists in a garret impression most people have.)
They would also do teas in the gardens and my friends and I would spend our winnings on squash, ice creams and cakes. In the village hall, packed with eager villagers, each prize was announced and prize money, cups and shields were awarded. We would be so excited to receive our small brown envelopes with 10, 25 or a grand 50 pence piece in them.
Sadly circumstances have not enabled me to encourage my sons to take part in the shows here, and now they are at an age where I can neither force them to enter let alone visit! I do hope that there will come a time when I will have grandchildren and I will so enjoy helping them to put together ‘vegetable monsters’, a piece of handwriting, and even some of their own fruit, veg and flowers.
So has my competitive spirit diminished?
It will depend on what prizes are awarded I suppose!
I think that I’ve always been a good sport where losing is concerned, but mainly in areas that I know I can’t win, ( Tennis, bowling and any team or water sport),although Mr C has just reminded me of the ‘Mums race’ at my sons school sports day, very competitive!
It is quite easy to accept defeat where someone else’s chocolate brownies or flapjacks look tastier, or the collection of herbs in a jar are less limp, and the flower arrangements more professional, but the drawing, how will I feel If I’m not judged ‘The Best’?
Actually it won’t mean a thing, maybe the judge doesn’t like Bees, or my choice of frame, or felt that another exhibitor ‘tried harder’ or had more skill. Who am I to say whose piece of art is better than anyone else’s? I am just so pleased that I was able to be inspired to enter, inspired by something to draw, and had the ability to complete a drawing worthy of entering any show. It was a testament to my love of where my life is now, yes I am severely limited and do ‘suffer’ for real for my art now, but I am so lucky that I am able to do things that I love, just for fun, and that’s what this show is, a lot of fun.
This afternoon, I will attend the prize giving and be genuinely pleased for the skilled growers of vegetables and flowers, I will laugh at the children’s limericks and Vegetable monsters, I will see familiar faces and be happy and blessed to be living in such a marvellous small town, full of so many lovely and talented people, all willing to share what nature and nurture has helped them to produce.
I’ll let you know how Mr C and I get on!