Thursday, 20 August 2015

The Most Happy

I love Hampton Court Palace. I mean I really love it. I love it so much I get a bit weepy just walking through the gates. Visiting from York entails a round trip of 500 miles and an overnight stop in a budget hotel, but it's worth every traffic cone and little plastic pot of UHT milk. Just being there makes me 'The most happy', the phrase Queen Anne Boleyn adopted as her motto.*

When we visited last weekend we headed straight for Henry VIII's kitchens, getting there before the crowds who had been waylaid by the signs to the Great Hall. The costumed cooks had just got the huge open fire going and were starting to spit roast a couple of large hunks of meat. The guides told us that the most common question they are asked by visitors is "Is that a real fire?", which is quite shocking and rather sad. I suppose that in a world of central heating and electric ovens, it is possible for people to go through life without ever seeing real flames and so not be sure what a wood fire looks (or sounds or smells or feels) like.

Look! Earthenware, wood, wicker, stone, herbs... so much loveliness.

Rather a blurry action shot, but I love the way it looks like a Brueghel painting.
After the kitchens we moved on 150 years to William III's apartments (also empty - "Everyone goes to the Great Hall first" said a guide, with a hint of sadness) and made an initial foray into the gardens, before we too succumbed to the lure of Tudor apartments and the Great Hall, where we encountered a team of 'Time Players' in period garb performing 'Pastime with Good Company'. The rest of the palace followed after lunch, including George I's Chocolate Kitchens (yes two rooms JUST FOR CHOCOLATE; forget a gift wrapping room, a chocolate kitchen must be the ultimate sign of a luxury home) and more time in the gardens, which now have 500 deckchairs to mark the 500th anniversary of the palace.  We availed ourselves of two for a while. (If you read my blog post about Chirk Castle you might detect a recurring pattern here.)

Why don't more gardens have fantasy beasts on striped poles? They're wonderful.
The sound track for our journey home was a Music for Feasting CD bought in the gift shop - medieval and Tudor smash hits played on period instruments (Now That's What I Call Minstrels). We head banged in the car in Wayne's World fashion and sang along in Latin.

You might have guessed by now that I am a bit of a Tudor nerd, which is one of the reasons that earlier this year I started a series of hand tinted drypoint etchings based on Tudor drawings. The first two I've completed are taken from Holbein sketches of Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour. The watercolour hand painting of each print, along with the fact that the ink colour is varied for each impression, means that each print is unique (a monoprint). There will be no more than 40 prints in each edition.

Hand tinting an 'Anne Boleyn' etching with watercolour paint.

Tudor Series - drypoint etchings with watercolour tinting
Oil based ink and watercolour on 140lb watercolour paper
Image size 14 x 20.5 cm

*Compare and contrast with the 'Bound to Obey and Serve' motto of her straight-laced successor, Jane Seymour. Oh Henry you silly man.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear people's thoughts on this blog, but there may be a short delay before your comment appears publicly. Thanks for your patience.