I’ve had some lovely arty days out with friends over the past month or so including two local sculpture exhibitions Showborough House in Twyning and Fresh Air 2015 near Cirencester, the RA Summer Exhibition in Piccadilly and this week a trip to Forest Valley Open Studios.

I was keen to see the work and studio of Mariette Volk in Drybrook, Gloucestershire.  I had first seen her paintings at Blue Ginger Gallery and fell in love with her wonderful watercolours of teaspoons. I’ve always loved watercolours and dabbled myself occasionally but never found it as easy as Mariette makes it look

Spoons by Mariette Voke

Well, what an idyllic haven!  From the doves in the dovecote, the vintage caravan kitted out in genuine 50s fabrics and enamel jars, the beautiful vista and the functioning bread oven, Jo and I were in heaven (despite the grey day).

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Mariette’s studio was filled with inspiration – tiny treasures collected over the years from toy boats to rusty tins, wooden cotton reels to marbles – all the things I too tend to hoard but keep stashed in drawers.

Tin of teaspoons

It was fun to spot the items on the shelves that appeared in her paintings, many of which I recognised from my own childhood.

Oxo tin Oxo tin painting

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It was lovely to chat to Mariette about her daily working routine, her exhibitions and artist residences, her inspiration and what it’s like living in such a beautiful place.

Mariette and Jo

An added bonus was discovering Mariette’s husband’s work at the end of the garden!  Nigel Lambert creates gorgeous slip-decorated wood-fired earthenware in a wonderful workshop.

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Nigel Lambert pots

The little jug on the left came home with me.

Nigels pots

Forest and Valley Open Studios runs from 11 – 26 July, but you can only see Mariette’s studio until Sunday 19 July, so be quick!

An exhibition of Mariette’s work entitled ‘The Dressing Room’ opens today at The Courtyard, Edgar Street, Hereford HR4 9JR and runs until 6 September 2015.

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