An Italian visitor

A bonus of having the studio where the public can pop in, is that you get special days when someone really makes your heart sing.  An Italian family are staying for a week and absolutely love and appreciate what Cornwall and we are all about.

Their daughter Agathe bounded into the studio yesterday with the broadest smile and returned today for a half hour little painting session when I let her loose with some of my watercolours. I thought she might want to paint the sea but she wanted to do animals, so catto and cane it was.

She could speak some English,  we managed really well to converse with added sign language and lots of smiles, and she confidently picked  the biggest brush and we had great fun mixing colours.

She even pulled the big chair over, sat in it in front of a large painting I’m working on at the moment and directed me to paint.

What a delight to have such a lovely free spirit with a love of creating and her father said she thought I was better than Van Gogh which really made me smile.



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Losing my marbles and finding them again 

The pressure, mostly from myself; the expectations, the doubt, the self worth, the ego. Working with the creative mind is so full of uncertainty, dipping and diving , losing focus, a mist of ideas as the mind jumps around with nothing coming to the fore. Sleep doesn’t help. Nobody can help and everyone suffers. I  think madness is sinking in, but I’m stronger and better than this so I decide to go back to meditation. 

Up early, I get the rug and sit in the decking with legs crossed, arms resting gently on my open knees with the fourth finger and thumbs just touching and find some inner peace until I take a deep breath…. Cat piss!!!! Think the cats are marking their territory in our garden and the early morning sun has warmed it nicely to perfume the lower levels of the garden. 

Oh well, it was a good try and even 2 minutes meditation was enough to bring some calm and inner strength. Onward and upward. A timely post from a friends blog made me realise I’m not alone or going mad. 

I’m writing this in the studio, having had a very productive two hours painting and nearly finishing two pieces and wondering what the hell yesterday was all about ….until the next time. 😋


Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Art diary


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Putting the studio together in 2 days

Last year I was lucky enough to have some space in the barn studio at Wooda Farm Holiday Park.  I was born there and my brother kindly allowed me the space for the summer months.  Over the winter, the barns and the barn I was working in were transformed.  A lot of work took place over the whole courtyard area.

I approached the modern changes with a little trepidation as there was so much charm working in such a rustic setting, but the reality of it was there was poor light, it was draughty, cold and dusty.

The other reality was that in the end I only had two days to make a completely blank pristine space into a working studio/gallery.

Ordinarily it would not have mattered, but I had an interview and photographs with ‘My Cornwall’ magazine for an August feature to coincide with my exhibition, which was too good an opportunity to miss and this was the latest date possible. This also alongside all that had to be done for Baamfest, a local arts and music festival and our Its Not Rubbish Art Show which was happening two days later.

Looking back, I still don’t know quite how I pulled it out of the bag and would not have been possible without the help of family and friends. In fact Don (husband) and Annie (sidekick for INRAS), I couldn’t have done it without you both.

Preparation was key too and I had already mapped out the space. The end for the studio, prep area and the front as a gallery space. Graeme had acquired some old trestle tables made 80 yrs ago. Reminiscent of the french market communal eating tables you see, they have a wonderful aged patina and at over 4 metres long were perfect to fill the space.

A small storage unit was transformed by Don with nail heads for paints, tin cans for brushes and castors making it a moving work station. A large stirling board mounted on the wall means I can add ideas and drawings with a pull down roll for quick notes and sketches.


I have to confess that dust sheet at the back did have a quick flicking paint job in the back garden the previous weekend to give a little authenicity along with some dirtied and coloured jars of water to make it looked lived in and used.

Phew!  Done.

Sue Read Studio Bude

Barn Studio completed


Posted by on June 21, 2015 in Art diary


The ‘It’s Not Rubbish Art Show’ 2

From initial meetings and planning in January, BaamFest 2015 in June was always going to be bigger and better.  We had a new location,booked a big top marquee, some great music acts and a comedy night with Kernow King.

The ‘It’s Not Rubbish Art Show 2′ also has a new venue within the Bude Castle and Heritage Centre, a small side gallery that was to become our underwater aquatic display of Creatures of the Deep,all made by the community.Everything was made from beach finds in the local area over the last winter.

The irony of it all is that it was beautiful and colourful, yet so harmful when it’s in the water.

The idea was simple. Annie Creo and I at the helm, we spent the winter beach combing, gathering ideas and from May, it was full steam ahead to make it all happen from promotion, designing the room display, to getting judges, prizes, forms and arranging the entries.  We even had a mention on BBC springwatch and my instagram picture made an appearance.

The idea is to spread the message of cleaning the beaches and the problem of marine litter, whilst celebrating local peoples creativity in turning beach rubbish into ART.

We did a workshop with two classes at the local junior school in April and this provided some momentum for other classes, children and adults to partake and lobbied friends to have a go, providing cake and materials in the garden one sunny morning. We went to local beach cleans with Widemouth Task Force and #2minutebeachclean and organised a very unsuccessful swap shop, but the idea was fun and it was good promotion. Katrina Slack, an artist from Penzance also contributed a large porpoise piece she has made with the WWF.

A large ‘cod end’ net still with it’s plastic rings and colourful rope became our personal project; to be a centre piece of a large fish outside the gallery. Still unnamed she is beautiful with a wellie boot fin, frilly eye lashes, lighters for teeth, an inner tube for a mouth and she was filled with rope and other ghost gear which spills out of her mouth into a weaving littered with other items, all found on local beaches.

I also made a large sphere from fishing string over an inflated beach ball which when removed left me with a lovely light see through sphere which resembled the world.  It’s addictive, working with this beach rubbish and I stayed up until 1 am one morning making small plastic fish to put around the outside of my fishing string world.

The day arrived, the show opened and we had over 600 visitors in the first day. Annie cleverly devised a walk around the room to guide people, which meant they didn’t miss a thing.  The show was judged by Widemouth Task Force and #2minutebeachclean with extra prizes for the winners of the ‘peoples vote’.


Local artist Karen Gimlinge also made a lovely large seahorse to display and ran a very successful childrens workshop creating a large seascape with our left over rubbish.

On for two weeks, we hope many more will see it and more importantly go away more aware of beach rubbish, pick it up and spread the word.

(thanks to Bob Willingham for the festival pics)


Posted by on June 20, 2015 in Art diary


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Reworking some old boards with surprising results.

Last summer whilst at the barn studio, I played around with oil bars. Big thick chubby sticks of solid oil colour that were cumbersome and either too soft or too hard. I used them by scraping off colour with a palette knife and applying it directly to the board.

It was what I called painting interludes, the little play paintings with colour and ideas that required little concentration or thought and I was quite pleased with them at the time.

After Christmas to get back into the swing after quite a break from painting, I looked at them again and had completely fallen out of love with them.  They didn’t reflect the quality of the oilbar and looked contrived, so I mixed some traditional oils and reworked them.

What a refreshing start to the year!… new ideas, new approach and looser work.  I’m thinking it might have been inspired by what was underneath, so it wasn’t time wasted and that this approach works well for  me.  It’s like the foundations or scaffolding to a controlled idea in which I then have the confidence to lay over something far more painterly.

I had trouble finding the reworked version of lightness and fullness as it had changed so radically. I hunted everywhere before I found a little glimpse of green that suggested it’s previous life.

So here they are, the before and afters. (left = before and right = after)



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Lisbon; the friendly city (April Holidays)

Living in Cornwall, cities are a little out of our comfort zone, but we have a love of Portugal and it’s people and Lisbon and surrounding area didn’t disappoint.

Having done the far west of the Algarve and the Alejento/ Costa Vicente, we are working our way up the coast line and booked a week in Caiscais 30km west of Lisbon on the Tagus estuary where it opens into the Atlantic. It felt very much like St Ives but grander and with a beautiful light and climate.

Lisbon was a €2 train ride along the coast and Sintra a half hour train ride or hour long via the bus coastal trip.with  so many UNESCO world heritage places to visit!

We packed a lot into a week and got a feel for the city. It always takes a day or two to get your bearings and is always worth getting lost, but never be afraid to ask in Portugal. The most gracious of people, they will often take your hand and physically walk you there. The city of seven hills could do with a few more signs, but going off track you come across some wonderful surprises with the added grandeur of the tile clad houses that line the often narrow streets that were as steep as Clovelly; the narrow alleys where the trams trundled through; the small door ways that revealed the best of local eateries to the decorative pastelarias; not forgetting the miradouras which opened up vistas over the city from high up and beautiful parks.

Too much to write, here are a few of our favourite things we did.


Every day walking a different route from our hotel Casa Vela and always ending up somewhere on the front. House of Wonders owned by Anna has great fresh world cuisine with a chic roof top bar. Dom Pedro gives you traditional Portuguese cuisine among the miriad of new chic expensive restaurants. The museums and historic houses were as good as any in Lisbon and cheap or free. It was small , friendly. a little touristy but had everything you needed with great walking and comforts. Shop at the mercerdo and buy your wines from the supermarket.


Take the coast road to Sintra. We caught the bus. the views down the coast are stunning as were all the wild flowers. arriving at the bijou station, we took a taxi to Quinta do Regaleria which we could in hindsight have walked. fantasy gothic gardens with grottos, statues and quirkiness, it is a must. With views to the sky top Royal Pena Palace we knew we had to go while here and avoid the tourist trap of central historic Sintra. A bumpy fun ride in a tuk tuk landed us at the entrance with a still 1km steep incline walk, it was beautiful though the rooms small but a picture postcard photo at every turn.

Pena National Palace

Quinta Da Regaleira


Walk and explore. It’s not a huge city but very steep. Tram 28 does the major spots and was fun. Don’t miss Alfama, Biarro Alto , Rossio square for Ginja (cherry liqueur ) and the lesser known Principe Real. High up, trendy but open and a mini village in it’s own right. For something more modern, using the so so simple, uber clean fast metro, you must not miss Oceanarium, a world class aquarium in the expo area of Parque do Nacoes with great urban art and views of the Vasco do gama bridge and a huge shopping centre. Timeout mercado di Ribiera offers fantastic communal modern eating in a market setting and is a a must do near Cais Do Sodre station. It also meant we could have a glass or two, eat and get on the train back to Caiscais in just a moment.

Belem area with the Monument to Discoveries with fountains and the monastery building as a backdrop was also beautiful whilst munching on the famous pastel de nata, custard tarts.

We didn’t hire a car, but just about did every other mode of transport though mainly our legs!

With the great exchange rate we ate out cheaply and bought a few lovely items along the way. Seriously, you need to go with an empty suitcase for beautiful clothing and linens.

There were so many things we didn’t get to do, but another time maybe.


elevador Bica from behind the fab mercado di ribiera

Tram 28 to get a feel for the city and lie of the land and admire the sights and architecture.

Park, a rooftop bar .

Biarro alto hotel rooftop bar just to be nosy and look around but great cocktails.

Via the elevador Gloria, admire the view from the miradouras and then walk up to Principe Real.

Walk Alfama for lunch or late aft when the locals are out chatting.

Chiado felt too much like a city to me, but you don’t have to go far either west of East to get into the old city.

Oceanarium a must see and use the metro. cheap, clean and easy even for us country bumpkins

Eat octopus.

Stand outside the back of Chiado theatre and listen to rehearsals

So many individual shops and not all expensive.

Gins are huge and tend to be cheaper than beer. Wines are far superior and love raposeira, their cava.

Talk to people. They are so friendly and always smiling. Hardly any English but mostly French visitors with a few Aussies, Scandinavian and it only takes a few Americans to know they are there. ;-) .

Already planning a trip back, as there was so much more to see in this beautiful city.


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Bottle top update 

Annie and I trundled down to Rame Head near Torpoint on the 11th April and spent the afternoon trailing down the cliff side with  250 other people carrying 1 km of bottle top chain. It far exceeded Claire Wallerstein’s estimate and was no mean feat getting down a very long steep path and laid out onto the beach. a very rewarding afternoon and great to be a little part of history in the making. 



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