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This blog is a combination of new material and previously published archives... Mostly about singing, music, opera and the life of an artist. Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Time-Travelling via the Opera Tour...Keeping it in the Family, Part 2: Exeter

 When I first performed in Exeter, toddler in tow, luck was on my side. The people running the digs we stayed in were not only lovely and welcoming, but have become true friends. Both professional artists, she a painter and he a sculptor, they have a wonderful open-minded outlook on life. The house was full of art, as you would expect, and the garden full of sculpture. My son had a lovely time discovering the different (life-sized!) animals – sheep, dogs – and people dotted around inside and out. We were advised to visit the Exeter Royal Albert Memorial Museum, with its famous collection of stuffed animals dating back to Victorian times. Local hero Gerald the Giraffe, part of the taxidermied menagerie, greeted us as we entered the impressively ornate museum building. My then two-year-old son took great delight in using his new vocabulary in the museum: ‘giraffe’ (his favourite animal at the time), ‘statue’ and –embarrassingly- ‘that statue is a man, because it has a willy!’ Well, it was a replica of a Greek statue, after all.

On my return visit, I stayed at the same digs, as I had stayed in touch with our hosts. As it turned out, I was one of the last lodgers to stay with them: they had sold the big, rambling Victorian house, and were completing their dream house on a parcel of land at the bottom of their (former) garden. Complete with floor-to-ceiling windows along one side, and a two-story artists’ studio outbuilding, it was something right out of ‘Grand Designs.’ We had a lovely time catching up on all the news, mine and theirs, with their grown children getting married/producing grandchildren, and my remarriage and expanded family. I made an attempt to visit the RAMM, but it was closed for renovations. I spent the time instead window shopping at the delightful boutiques and independent shops in the area around the museum, and raiding all the local charity shops and relieving them of their wool supplies.

More recently, while performing at another theatre in Devon, I made a detour to Exeter to visit my artist friends, who were having a joint exhibit in a trendy gallery in Topsham. Again, we had a lovely catch-up session, and it was wonderfully surreal to see so many sculptures and paintings - that I had originally seen in the artists’ house and garden - in the formal setting of a gallery. I felt privileged in comparison to the other patrons who were visiting the exhibition, and it was strange – when noticing the many ‘sold’ notices – to imagine these pieces gracing someone else’s home. I was also reminded of why this couple had always remained in my thoughts: here were two lives intertwined with art, creativity, and love. They had met as students at art school and built parallel careers as practitioners and teachers, while raising a family and creating a beautiful home. An inspiration to artists of every discipline, and one of the many unexpected positives I discovered while touring en famille.

The artwork of Margaret and Roger Dean can be viewed at: http://www.theartroomtopsham.co.uk/port_Deans.html