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.***

My new book is published this week: read all about it!

panorama cover small

It’s a big week for me this week. My historical detective story set in Florence is just out, and you can buy it as a paperback on Amazon and in a Kindle edition (details of how to do so below.)  Its called A Matter of Perspective and it’s a gripping read of murder and intrigue all solved by the hero sleuth……who was born and bred at The Watermill at Posara!  Here’s the Blurb:

COVER USED IN BOOK reducedIn 1425 the great dome of Florence cathedral is still unfinished, but reaching a critical point as its shell move inexorably upwards and inwards. An irascible genius, Filippo Brunelleschi, is in charge of the dome’s construction, watched over by his patron, the powerful banker Cosimo de’ Medici.

Young Assistant Building Supervisor Luca da Posara can’t think of anywhere else in the world that he’d rather be: it’s the birth of the Renaissance and the very air seems alive with fresh ideas, in science and philosophy, art and architecture.

But then he finds the body of a visiting mathematician, brutally murdered. Papers on the corpse allege that Filippo Brunelleschi stole his ideas. Who had him murdered? Filippo or Cosimo? Or the hot-headed sculptor Donatello,  Filippo’s close friend and former apprentice? Or was it one of their bitter artistic or political rivals, in a plot to destroy Filippo and discredit Cosimo? In Renaissance Florence, passion, conflict and intrigue lead to plot and counter-plot and nothing is quite as it seems. After a second killing, of a master mason who plunges to his death from the top of the incomplete dome, Luca feels compelled to turn amateur detective  – and discovers it’s all a matter of perspective.”

Intrigued? Why not get your own copy of the book – and if you bring it with you when you come on a painting holiday or creative writing course, I’ll gladly sign it for you, too.

To buy your paperback copy from the UK, please go straight to the book on  by clicking here. Or buy the Kindle version by going straight to this link, by clicking here.

If you live outside the UK, you may prefer to use and you can go direct to my book’s page by clicking here. For the Kindle version on, please click here:

Or you can stall for time and just find out more on my new website for the book: www.billbreckon.netThere you can also read an extract and a review – and then order the book!

I hope you enjoy it. Let me know the next time you visit the present-day Watermill at Posara.Mill courtyard