Friday, 12 July 2019

Humour Wins the Day!

We had another great meeting on Wednesday, 10 July 2019. Mr. Andrew Ashton delighted us with a talk on the humour of the late artist, Beryl Cook.

We learned a lot about her life as well as about her art. Born in 1926 in Surrey, Beryl had no formal art training and didn't even take up painting until her thirties. She first tried water colours but soon changed to acrylics and oils, which allowed her to paint the magnificent textures and detail we see in her work.

Beryl's subjects were the ordinary, every day people she seemed to love and who she found warm and humorous: girls out on a hen night, sailors and prostitutes, "naturist" people having tea in the garden, and more. Although she was shy herself, her characters were often flamboyant. In fact, when she was awarded an OBE, she did not attend because of her shyness!

He showed us slides, side-by-side of her paintings, of other well-known works of art that inspired her. He felt that she was undervalued by the art world, pointing out the detail in her paintings that made them special and instantly recognizable.

We had a competition table that members contributed of works similar to Beryl Cook's, which he kindly judged for us, too.

Mr. Ashton had the whole WI hall laughing. Everyone agreed it was one of the best afternoons we've had! And what could be better for the soul than a good laugh with friends? 

Monday, 17 June 2019

On the Move Again

Our WI had a lovely day out on 13 June. We went first to Godinton House and Gardens near Ashford, Kent. The house was built in 1879 by Colonel John Leslie Toke on the ruins of Roman and medieval foundations. It remained in the Toke family for two hundred years and today is a magnificent blend of centuries of evolving art and architecture.

We began with a lovely lunch and then our members were free to wander through the lush gardens.

Next we had a tour of Chapel Down Winery, near Tenterden. Our tour guide, Russell, explained all the intricacies of grape growing and wine making as we looked out onto the fields of grapes. We all got to wear the "stylish" hi-viz vests!

We learned, for example, that Chapel Down sources their fruit from a wide geographic area, in addition to the vineyards we saw. This ensures against the risk of crop failure while still maintaining consistency in quality.

From the vineyards, we progressed to the huge vats where the grapes are processed into wine. We also  had a nice "tasting" of the award winning Chapel Down wines, which made the end of the day that much more enjoyable!

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

We're BACK ONLINE! Our issues have been resolved, so please check this blog regularly for updates, and please feel free to leave comments. Thanks to all who have asked for this to be continued.

Our December 2018 meeting was a great success. Some of us really got into the spirit with Christmas jumpers and headgear.

And of course the usual Christmas food, too!

We were then treated to the most wonderful talk on Christmas traditions by the lovely Siobhan Clarke. She covered Christmas traditions from the 12th century with slides and lots of information on how the royal families have celebrated through the ages.

We learned that in 1681 it was against the law to say "Merry Christmas", thanks to the Puritans! And although Prince Albert was responsible for introducing the Christmas tree in the royal household of Queen Victoria, owing to his German roots, Queen Charlotte actually had one as early as 1792. The trees were often hung from the ceiling. 

Until the 1920s presents were exchanged only as small tokens (my how THAT has changed!) and often simply fruit. Ms. Clarke explained that German tradition is to open presents on Christmas Eve, a practice still followed by the royal family. She also said the Christmas card was started in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, followed by the invention of the Christmas cracker in 1847 by Thomas Smith, a London sweets maker. The talk was lively and very interesting!  

We had such a good time and are now looking forward to our next meeting (always the second Wednesday of each month at All Saints Church Hall at 2pm) and our annual New Year's lunch. This year the lunch will be held on 23rd January at the Marine Hotel. (Reminder: pre-paid only)