The Watermill is getting greener!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

More yellow than red means green: supply easily outstrips demand

As of this week, we are proud to announce, the Watermill is becoming self-sufficient in electricity. We have just commissioned our new photovoltaic energy generation system and we are now happy to say that overall, thanks to the power of the sun, we are producing much more electricity than we are using.

Our sincere thanks to the architect Stefano Santini and his team, and our brilliant builders Nico and Danielle, who aesthetically incorporated the photovoltaic panels in our ancient roofs.The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

As well as helping to save the planet, our solar powered electricity will help to make our guests even more comfortable. We have already made a start on installing air-conditioning units in the Watermill rooms. There is now air conditioning in the studio and in the communal dining room (and in our industrial kitchen, to keep our cooks cool and calm as they prepare your delicious meals). We also now have units in the Lippi Suite and in the Brunelleschi and Donatello bedrooms. We will be working again in October to complete the whole system, so that by the beginning of the 2020 season we should have air-conditioning everywhere, all powered by the sun.

In the first couple of days of operation, as you can see from the picture at the top, we used some 90 kWh of electricity, half of which we generated ourselves and half of which we had to buy from the electricity company. But we also generated more than 100 kWh of extra electricity, which we fed back into the national grid, and for which we will be paid. (Of course, electricity companies pay less for the electricity we supply them than they charge for the electricity they supply us, but even so we think will make more money than we pay, as well as helping to save the planet. On today’s reckoning, we’ve already avoided the production of nearly 140 kg of CO2. A drop in the ocean, it’s true, but you have to start somewhere…)

Here’s a green snapshot of our photovoltaic production at the height of a sunny Tuscan afternoon:

Along with our moves to cut down on the use of plastic, notably with our reusable vacuum flasks and our delivery system for cool natural and fizzy water, we are working hard on the “greening” of the Watermill. Come and enjoy the fruits of our labours yourself!

 

Watermill creative holidays: fantastic tuition in a safe and caring environment

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Be inspired with a group of like-minded people

Now is the time to book your place on a Watermill creative holiday – painting, writing, knitting or Italian language. Inspiring tuition, wonderful scenery, delicious food, a safe and caring environment.  We will look after your every need from the moment we pick you up at Pisa airport on the first Saturday, until we drop you off again at the airport at the end of your week.

Some 230 places out of a total of 250 or so have already been booked for our 2019 creative courses, but there are still quite a few places left on some weeks. If there’s a particular tutor or a particular week you would like to come on, and you find ithe course is fully booked, don’t hesitate to get in touch. There are often cancellations and we will put you on a waiting list and contact you as soon as a place becomes available.

Bring your partner or friend. Why not bring your friend or partner? They don’t have to participate in the course, but they will be able to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the mill and, whenever they want, to come out with you to our beautiful locations. We also offer a range of Alternative activities for partners (please click here) on all our creative courses, as well as a generous £GBP 250 discount if they share a room with you.

What’s available: Painting courses

Paul Talbot-Greaves
27 April to 4 May 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Paul and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

 

Keiko Tanabe
18 – 25 May 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Keiko and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Sandra Strohschein
1 – 8 June 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
8 – 15 June 2019
 Fully booked, waiting list open

Watercolours
To learn more about Sandra and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Vicki Norman
22 – 29 June 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
Oils en plein air
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please see our 2019 Courses Preview page.

 

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Mike Willdridge
29 June – 6 July 2019 Two or three places left
Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics with an emphasis on sketching and drawing on location)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

 

Sue Ford
13 – 20 July 2019 Two or three places left
Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylics
To learn more about Sue and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Jude Scott
17 – 24 August 2019 Three or four places left
24 – 31 August 2019
 One place left

Watercolours (plus acrylics and oils)
To learn more about Jude and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Varvara Neiman
31 August – 7 September 2019 Three or four places left
Water-based oils, acrylics and watercolours
To learn more about Varvara and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Claire Warner
14 – 21 September 2019 One or two places left
Watercolours, oils and acrylics
To learn more about Claire and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Maggie Renner Hellmann
21 – 28 September 2019  Fully booked, waiting list open
Courageous Color Workshop’ in oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolors
To learn more about Maggie and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Charles Sluga
28 September – 5 October 2019  Fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours, acrylics and oils
To learn more about Charles and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

 

Tim Wilmot
5 – 12 October 2019 One or two places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

 

David Taylor
12 – 19 October 2019  Two or three places left
Watercolours
To learn more about David and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

 

What’s available: Knitting courses

Sarah Hazell
4 – 11 May 2019 Two or three places left
Knitting and La Dolce Vita
To learn more about Sarah and her knitting week at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Debbie Abrahams
25 May – 1 June 2019 Two or three places left
Knitting and La Dolce Vita
To learn more about Debbie and her knitting week at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Marie Wallin
6 – 13 July 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
Knitting and La Dolce Vita
To learn more about Marie and her knitting week at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page

 

Writing courses

Jo Parfitt
15 – 22 June 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
Write Your Life Stories
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
7 – 14 September 2019 Still plenty of places
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and to register an interest in their course at the mill, please visit their 2019 Profile Page.

 

Italian language course

Langues services and Francesca la Sala 
11 – 18 May 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
Italian language
To learn more about Francesca and her course at the mill, please click here.

We’d be delighted if you could join us. Please click here for more details about all our 2019 creative courses. We are ready for your call on (UK number +44 (20) 7193 6246) or email us at info@watermill.net. ) 

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Students demonstrate their work on the last day of a painting course last year.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Concentration on one of Sarah Hazell’s knitting courses

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Finding a quiet corner to start writing

How we oldies took selfies and were ready to talk on the phone

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.Our Facebook friend and Watermill guest last year, Nancy Kimsey Anderson, recently posted the picture above to try to persuade her younger friends that this was the way we oldies used to take selfies. I wonder if they believed her!

Talking of phones, I thought I might share with you part of a blog post I did some time back about telephones and the Italians. Here it is.

Why do the Italians say ‘Pronto’ when they answer the phone?

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

I’m ready. Where is Bill?

If you’ve ever heard an Italian answering the phone, you may have been mildly surprised to hear that the first thing most of them say is Pronto. That means ‘Ready’ or ‘I’m ready.’ But why do they say this instead of ‘Hello’ or even just giving their number?

The answer goes back to the early days of the telephone when to make calls across Italy one had to go through an operator. You’d call him or her and give the number, then hang up. In due course your phone would ring and the operator would say: “Are to ready to accept a call to (the number)?”  And of course, you would reply: Pronto. ‘Ready.’

Somehow that response has stuck in the Italian telephonic psyche, so even in these days of instant mobile communication just about anywhere in the country (or the world) they still say Pronto when answering a call.

Watermill creative courses: find out more on the Interweb!

These days, of course, we don’t have to communicate solely on the telephone, we oldies can use what I like to call, infuriating my children, the Interweb, so I’m going to use this post to keep you up-to-date on availability on all the Watermill’s creative courses this year.

We are filling fast but still have plenty of places with different tutors. If there’s a particular tutor or a particular week you would like to come on and you find it is fully booked, don’t hesitate to get in touch. There are often cancellations and we will put you on a waiting list and get in touch as soon as a place becomes available.

Bring your partner or friend. Why not bring your friend or partner? They don’t have to participate in the course, but they will be able to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the mill and, whenever they want, to come out with you to our beautiful locations. We also offer a range of Alternative activities for partners (please click here) on all our creative courses, as well as a generous £GBP 250 discount if they share a room with you.

Painting courses

Paul Talbot-Greaves
27 April to 4 May 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Paul and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

 

Keiko Tanabe
18 – 25 May 2019 One or two places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Keiko and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Sandra Strohschein
1 – 8 June 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
8 – 15 June 2019
 Fully booked, waiting list open

Watercolours
To learn more about Sandra and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Vicki Norman
22 – 29 June 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
Oils en plein air
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please see our 2019 Courses Preview page.

 

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Mike Willdridge
29 June – 6 July 2019 Two or three places left
Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics with an emphasis on sketching and drawing on location)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

 

Sue Ford
13 – 20 July 2019 Three or four places left
Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylics
To learn more about Sue and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Jude Scott
17 – 24 August 2019 Four or five places left
24 – 31 August 2019
 One place left

Watercolours (plus acrylics and oils)
To learn more about Jude and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Varvara Neiman
31 August – 7 September 2019 Four or five places left
Water-based oils, acrylics and watercolours
To learn more about Varvara and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Claire Warner
14 – 21 September 2019 Two or three places left
Watercolours, oils and acrylics
To learn more about Claire and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Maggie Renner Hellmann
21 – 28 September 2019  Fully booked, waiting list open
Courageous Color Workshop’ in oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolors
To learn more about Maggie and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Charles Sluga
28 September – 5 October 2019  Fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours, acrylics and oils
To learn more about Charles and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

 

Tim Wilmot
5 – 12 October 2019 One or two places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

 

David Taylor
12 – 19 October 2019  Four or five places left
Watercolours
To learn more about David and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

 

Knitting courses

Sarah Hazell
4 – 11 May 2019 Two or three places left
Knitting and La Dolce Vita
To learn more about Sarah and her knitting week at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Debbie Abrahams
25 May – 1 June 2019 Due to cancellations: One or two places left
Knitting and La Dolce Vita
To learn more about Debbie and her knitting week at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Marie Wallin
6 – 13 July 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
Knitting and La Dolce Vita
To learn more about Marie and her knitting week at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page

 

Writing courses

Jo Parfitt
15 – 22 June 2019 One or two places left
Write Your Life Stories
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

 

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
7 – 14 September 2019 Still plenty of places
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and to register an interest in their course at the mill, please visit their 2019 Profile Page.

 

Italian language course

Langues services and Francesca la Sala 
11 – 18 May 2019 Fully booked, waiting list open
Italian language
To learn more about Francesca and her course at the mill, please click here.

We’d be delighted if you could join us. Please click here for more details about all our 2019 creative courses. We are ready for your call on (UK number +44 (20) 7193 6246) or email us oldies using the Interweb, on info@watermill.net. ) 

The Watermill at Posara for painting, sculpting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.

Forbidden fruit at the Watermill

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

We call this ‘conceptual artefact’ Forbidden Fruit and you can see it in the Watermill sitting room along with all the wonderful paintings made by our inspiring tutors.

What’s it all about?

Well… We had the wooden bananas first, in Scotland, two yellow ‘ripe’ ones and one green one. We didn’t really know what to do with them and worried that, were they on show, someone might try to eat them. So why not display them under glass, as the Victorians did with their butterflies and stuffed birds?

But the bananas looked a little lonely in their glass case, so I got in touch with the delightful English woodturner Barry Charnley and asked him to provide more fruit to keep them company.

He also produced an apple with teeth-marks, which could only have been made by a wooden boy: Pinocchio, of course. (The young man denied this, but when confronted, his nose grew and grew…)

Come and see our forbidden fruit for yourself, but don’t try to eat it. We love to welcome you on one of our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring courses where you can make your own creative artefacts, whether they are painted, written or knitted!

As ever, there’s more about everything if you just click here.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, sculpting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Meanhile, in the garden: Aphrodite kidnapped. A bust of the goddess, normally in the sitting room, placed artistically in the walled garden.

Famous couples and the Watermill

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Cheer up! Let’s go to the Watermill!

We have been having a lot of fun recently with our Watermill newsletters, where we always have a paragraph urging you to bring your partner to join you on one of our creative courses. We seek out pictures of famous couples and make up our own captions and we thought we’d share a few of the latest ones with you.

That’s the Duke and Duchess of Urbino above, as painted by Piero della Francesca. And here are Omar Sharif and Julie Christie, as Dr Zhivago and Lara, looking a little chilly:

Let’s go to the Watermill. We won’t need our furs!

Our encouragement to bring your partner or friend holds good: there’s plenty for them to do while you are enjoying your painting, creative writing, knitting or Italian language course. They don’t have to participate in the course, but they will be able to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the mill and whenever they want, come out with you to our beautiful locations. We also offer a range of Alternative activities for partners, as well as a generous £250 discount if they share a room with you. We think they’ll be amused:

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

We would be amused by a week at the Watermill.

And as Bogie might have said to Ingrid: “We’ll always have Posara!”

But seriously… Do come as a twosome and double your delights on a Watermill creative course. Our 2019 courses are booking fast, but you can find out more about current availability by clicking here.

And, as always, there’s more about everything at The Watermill website, which you can see by clicking here.

Cardboard gazing could help your art too!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.Were a passing Martian to have gazed down on the courtyard of the Watermill this week, he might have been intrigued at the strange antics of Homo sapiens. For there they were, gazing through rectangular holes in little pieces of cardboard. What strange behaviour! What an earth could the human species be up to?

The answer is very simple, though somewhat unusual. They were students on Vicki Norman’s inspiring oil painting course here at the Watermill. And they were using the cardboard cut-outs to assess the tonal balances in the scene before them, before going on to produce sketches of the arrangement of light and dark in the pictures they were planning. It’s a Japanese technique called Notan.

Vicki says: “Notan are simple tonal thumbnail sketches used to plan artworks en plein air. They help you to assess the balance of light and shade in a design and they’re really useful when choosing your subject.”

We had a fun time with a great group on Vicki’s course and, of course, great tuition. And and we’re already looking forward to Vicki’s return visit next year. She will be with us for another tremendous week of tuition in oil painting, from Saturday 22 June to Saturday, 29 June 2019.

Painting by Vicki Norman, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Vicki’s atmospheric oil of the Apuan Alps near the Watermill. You, too, could be painting them from one of our great en plein air locations:

We’d love you to join us: you can find out more about Vicki and her course at the Watermill by clicking here. But  you’ll have to hurry: we already have 10 people booked in for Vicki’s 2019 course. One of them is a non-painting partner, so we have room for three more painters (and their non-painting partners if they like to come). So, now’s the time to book, especially with our enticing Early Bird offer: if you book on Vicki’s 2019 course before the end of this year, there is a £75 discount.

Come and enjoy superb tuition in oil painting (and get to look through little rectangular squares cut out of cardboard!)

 

 

A colour wheel with a difference, by Sarah’s knitting group

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.This wonderful colour wheel, photographed on a table on the Vine Verandah, was made yesterday afternoon by some of our guests on Sarah Hazell’s inspiring knitting week here.  After arranging swatches of yarn to show the relationships between colours, one of the group, Linda Walker, brought flowers from the Walled Garden to augment the display, with this stunning effect. Gina Davidson took the picture.

Everyone seems to be having a wonderful time, knitting on the Vine Verandah or dodging Tuscan thunderstorms and repairing to the communal sitting room.

Sarah Hazell will be with us again next year for another fun-filled, inspiring knitting holiday – and we’ve already taken two bookings!

And there’s a Special Offer: If you book for a 2019 creative course before 1 September 2018, you can reserve your place at 2018 prices. (After 1 September, the costs for 2019 courses will change.)  You can see more on the Watermill website 2019 Preview Section, by clicking here.  http://watermill.net/wmprov2019/watermill-prov19.php If you’d like to come, please be in touch as soon as you can, using the 2019 Preview Enquiry Form there.

Come and enjoy a convivial and colourful week.

Shall we make a yarn bomb during one of our Watermill knitting weeks?

Blog yarn bomb busHave you heard of ‘yarn bombing’? Well, we hadn’t until we came across one of those marvellous TED talks by textile artist Magda Sayeg. She uses handmade, eye-catching yarn bombs to shake up the way we see the world and make us notice things we hadn’t seen before. Like the bus above. Or this transformation of  a fire hydrant and ugly street bollards below.

Blog yarn bomb 3 croppedMagda transforms urban landscapes into her own playground by decorating everyday objects with colorful knit and crochet works. These warm, fuzzy “yarn bombs” started small, with stop sign poles and fire hydrants in her hometown, but soon people found a connection to the craft and spread it across the world. She says: “We all live in this fast-paced, digital world, but we still crave and desire something that’s relatable,” Magda adds: “Hidden power can be found in the most unassuming places, and we all possess skills that are just waiting to be discovered.” You can see her TED talk by clicking here.Blog yarn bomb 2It got me thinking: maybe we should have a ‘yarn bomb’ during our three knitting weeks at The Watermill this year. I am not so sure that the local transport services would take too kindly to having one of their buses ‘stitched up’, but maybe a tree or two along the Watermill millstream garden. What do you think?Macfie millstream reducedYou’ll know that Watermill knitting holidays were recently rated recently by The Times of London as one of the best 50 holidays in Italy. This could make them even more fun.

In the two years since we inaugurated our Knitting and La Bella Vita Italiana courses at The Watermill, they have gone on from strength to strength. So far more than 50 people, from all over the world, have enjoyed our knitting weeks – and another 25 or so have already signed up for this year’s sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring weeks. As we only have room for about 30/32 guests in total of this year’s three knitting weeks, you can see that we only have 10 or so places left. So, yes, now really is the time to book and make sure of YOUR place,

Our lovely tutors are Sarah Hatton and Lisa Richardson, both of whom produce great designs for Rowan Yarns– and, of course, as ever, you’ll enjoy both knitting and La Bella Vita Italiana at The Watermill and its stunning Tuscan surroundings in the unspoilt area of Lunigiana.

As you know, La Bella Vita means ‘The Good Life’ in Italian and that’s just what you’ll be savouring when you take one of our wonderfully relaxing and inspiring week-long knitting holidays in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. You’ll work at The Watermill on projects from top designers and you’ll also be knitting at a privately owned ex-monastery and in the grounds of a fabulous hill-top restaurant.

You’ll be treated to an all-day excursion to the beautiful fishing villages of the Cinque Terre and enjoy a morning’s ramblings through the market at the nearby walled medieval town of Fivizzano. You will have the perfect opportunity to make new friends in the company of like-minded people learning new knitting techniques and tips from our tutors… and enjoying unspoilt Italy and, of course, fantastic food and wine: truly La Bella Vita Italiana.

A local view, thanks to the Ciao Lunigiana blog

A local view, thanks to the Ciao Lunigiana blog

Your inspiring 2016 knitting tutors

Sarah Hatton head and shouldersSarah Hatton is a designer for the Rowan Yarns and also teaches knitting classes worldwide. She learnt to knit as a child and has always been passionate about fashion. After gaining a degree in fashion design she began working in the handknit industry and has done so for over 15 years. Sarah is also an enthusiastic, sympathetic and inspirational tutor and for her week-long course at the mill she has devised two specially-designed projects for you to knit: a lace scarf and a cable classic Aran project. She will also pass on professional tips and techniques to take your knits from ‘homemade’ to ‘handmade’.

Lisa Richardson head and shouldersLisa Richardson’s name is instantly associated with the Rowan pattern house. In addition to her designer role, she manages the pattern editing process and mentors newer members of the design team. She says, “My biggest drive is to people create something that they will cherish for years to come.”

Lisa is an enthusiastic, sympathetic and inspirational tutor, winning much praise from her workshop participants. For her week-long course at the mill she has devised two specially designed projects for you to knit: one inspired by Italian lace work; and the other that fully justifies her label as ‘slip stitch queen’.

How to find out more

Hatton cable projectSarah Hatton  Knitting and La Bella Vita

21 May to 28 May 2016 Course full, waiting list

AND 28 May to 4 June 2016 New course: four/five places

Please click here to learn more about Sarah and her courses at the mill.

Lisa Richardson bagLisa Richardson Knitting and La Bella Vita

10 September to 17 September 2016 Three/four places

Please click here to learn more about Lisa and her course at the mill.

 

If you’d like to book or find out more, please visit our Knitting Holidays website by clicking here. For more information or use our secure Knitting Holidays Enquiry Form by clicking here.

Treat yourself to Knitting and La Bella Vita Italiana! and maybe we’ll ‘yarn bomb’ as well!Knit Pandora and Claudia -reduced

 

 

Annabel’s pictures record our early Italian life

Annabel silk 2Guests on our creative courses the mill often ask about the striking, colourful silk pictures in our dining room. They were made by our English artist friend Annabel Collis and the represent various scenes from our Italian life when our children, Lydia and Lara, were very young. They’re painted with ‘barrier lines’ between areas of the silk so the colours don’t run into one section from to another.

The picture above shows in its central panel the family and friends enjoying a picnic in the olive groves above Terenzano, with the peaks of the Alpi Apuane in the background. It’s not a snapshot of one moment in time, but rather a collage of events, so the dramatis personae appear several times, notably the children, who appear from babies to toddlers. The dark-haired young man holding the football and flying the kite is Bill! The background is a typical Fivizzano scene, with Bill’s white MG, drinking in a caffé, and the children enjoying ice creams around one of the distinctive dolphins around the fountain in the Piazza Medicea .

The picture below features a diptych, with the Cinque Terre village of Vernazza on the left of the internal panel and the watermill’ bamboozery on the right, while the background captures the ‘blue Italian weather’ of the Cinque Terre coast.

Annabel silk 3

In the main Tuscan house, you’ll find a third Collis painting. This one captures the essence of the mill, the cascades and the river, the family enjoying the gardens, the bamboozery and surrounding vineyards.

Annabel silk 1Annabel VeniceWe commissioned the pictures after Bill had asked Annabel to make a silk scarf of Venice for one of Lois’ birthdays. Lois liked it so much she refused to wear it and had it framed instead. It hangs in our bedroom at the mill (viewing by request!) Lovely pictures, bringing back warm memories.

Annabel, who lives with her husband, the architect Guy Greenfield, in the West of England, is still an active artist. She also writes and illustrates children’s books and makes quirky greeting cards. You can find out more about Annabel and her work by clicking here.  Her particular passion is elephants! Here are some children with an elephant they decorated with Annabel on a school artistic project.

Annabel elephant children

And of course you can see Annabel’s Italian silk paintings if you come on one of our world-famous creative courses. To find out more, please just click here.

  ***Don’t forget our special Early Bird offer: If you book any of our 2016 sun-filled, fun-filled courses before 31 December 2015, there a £ (GBP) 75 discount.***