I've given the eye to some art in my time and believe you me I've patronised (any form of giving - you know me), encouraged and even watered and stabled some fledgling talent over the years.
So today has been such a treat. I've had the smell of turpentine and Artist's oils in my nose, I've enjoyed a bona troll in the sun with great company around some hitherto unknown corners of my neighbourhood, I've been inside some lovely houses and studios, and I've seen some great art.
All this on 1700 calories a day!
It's a lifestyle, I know, and I suit it so well.
Occasion? Well it is the Dulwich festival - very Margo Ledbetter meets Lynda Snell, and mostly to be avoided, but the Artsits' Open Studio (they call it House) is not something I like to miss. And this year the pin in the map approach to engorged enjoyment certainly pricked well.
On hand was my Artist friend Marsha who knows and grows her onions, and is always good for a bit of quality artist insider chit chat with the painters themselves. They like sharing their craft and fire off each other beautifully. I'm happy simply sniffing their rags and wondering how quickly they'll appreciate.
So here's a whistle stop tour of the tip of the top, the pick of the pop, the cream of the crop, I thank you.
First stop, gorgeous textiles from Trisha Needham. Trisha's studio is dominated by her humongous printing table where she produces a wonderful array of original fabrics. I already have one of her beautiful hand printed linen cushions - as shown.
Then it was round the corner (via some very camp polari with the dance studio man - we're going to his charity craft market in June - it'll be postcards from Tenerifee and vodka off the shoulders on the Lane next) to a trio of male furniture designers - sixninethree. Whilst Marsha discussed the the beauty of bespoke, I fingered their veneers and stroked their lovely dog. It would have been a really good choice for a blind or visually impaired art and design lover as the smell of the wood was beautiful and the opportunity for grain caressing were a plenty. Gorgeous.www.sixninethree.co.uk
Next stop some beautifully embroidered linen inspired by, and expertly recreated from the hand written notes on old postcards sent from Skegness in the 1930's. The artists Linda Lithcfield is a retired lawyer if you please.www.lindalitchfield.co.uk
Hot footing it on to Forest Hill and a wonderful new find for me - Havelock Walk. This beautiful hidden mews is made up entirely of artists studios. Some of the studios were amazing Victorian loft spaces - the sort of thing accommodation fantasies are made of. I was drawn to two very inspiring artists. The first was Tessa Holmes, who was showing amongst other things, a series of beautiful screen prints inspired by the architecture in Rome. I love Rome, so these were really special, and I will probably go back and get one sometime over the summer.
The other artist whose creations I really loved, but which were a little too expensive, otherwise I would have snapped one up pronto like, was Rebecca Molloy. She was showing some beautiful portraits which she had painted on clear acrylic, the colours being of varying depth and density, and layered to produce a beautiful light filled affect. They were very striking.www.rebeccamolloy.co.uk
Our penultimate stop was back in East Dulwich and a wonderful photographer, going by the monika of Keith Parry. We were both really drawn to the photo in the guide and were not disappointed when we saw it and his other work up close. Really impressive. www.keithparry.com
And finally Mario D'Oliverira and his Brazilian ceramics. Marsha made a purchase here of a very interesting teapot which he was very proud of and very attached to - and so he should have been. Lovely stuff.
Now I'd told Marsha not to let me by any textiles, no ceramics and certainly no art, as I have no room and no need. So how well did she do? Well I only brought one beautiful cushion from Trisha Needham, some great cards of ED in the snow from Keith Parry, and a solar powered waving QE2 from Mrs Robinson on the Lane.
Gorgeous - what a lovely day and how lucky I am.