You are currently viewing Month 7.  Sussex, Hastings and Rye. 12th.  – 19th September

Welcome to my blog recording my seventh trip away as part of my one-year project of twelve art road trips.

I always intended to come down to this region as part of my road trip. I spent many summers down here as a little girl. We stayed with my Auntie Pat, Uncle Derek and cousins John and Graham who lived down here. I wanted to come down here, paint and reflect on the changes to the area.

My first painting was a quick interpretation of the fishing net huts on Hastings’s harbour – I wanted to try to capture the drama and light of a sunset and two young women in the foreground.

interpretation of the fishing net huts on Hastings’s harbour

Later I painted the Autumn hedgerow at the campsite. Another chance to play with colour and light on leaves, using pastels and acrylic paints.

Autumn hedgerow

On the Wednesday I managed to catch up with my cousin Graham, his wife Becky and Daughter Bethany. We did a lot of reminiscing over our shared history and looked at old photos.

My Sister Kathryn, Mum, Graham and me.
My Sister Kathryn, Mum, Graham and me.
Me on the shoulders of my dad, with Kathryn and Graham
Me on the shoulders of my dad, with Kathryn and Graham

I did some quick sketches of Becky, Bethany and Graham:

Becky, Bethany and Graham 1
Becky, Bethany and Graham

I also visited my Auntie Pat on Thursday, and my cousin John spent an evening at the campsite sitting talking by a bonfire until it got too cold to sit out.

It was quite an emotional week for several reasons other than seeing members of my family again after several years:

  1. It was the week of the Queen laying in state and wall to wall coverage of it – most of which I missed.
  2. I got locked out the van on Friday evening – had to do a break in through the window.
  3. I learnt of a friend’s sudden death – the shock was intense, and the clarity of realising all we have is the present became very real.

I kept my spirits up by exercising – doing circuits outside round the woods near by, and training by the van.
I of course also painted, creating this piece using the leaves falling from the nearby trees:

Fallen leaves
break and entry
Me doing a break and entry to my van.

I’ve been revisiting the schedule for the next five months and accepting what I’ve learnt so far. I’ve decided to adapt the next trips so I can complete the year successfully. Reducing the miles for the trips and going places where I can get some support and reprieve from having two dogs full time in the van.

I’m going to go South in October and camp on the banks of the Thames. Derbyshire in November will enable me to camp and paint with a friend.

I’m going to take a break over December, and then go to Wales but stay in a cottage rather than the cold van in January.

I’ll finish up in my spiritual home Sheffield as it’s close by if the weather turns.

Next stop London and the Thames…

J Shipton
Arts Council England

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