My Eighth Year . . . one of mud and ice
The subtitle for 2008 could have been a line from a poem that my grandmother used to quote:
Whether the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not!
In May 2008, following on from our first show at Chatsworth, Emma and I finally managed to exhibit at a Game Fair - the Yorkshire Game Fair at Harewood House. The little watercolour ‘Meet The Hounds’ (right) is a favourite from this year for its ‘moment in time’ memories. This little watercolour shows my Jack Russell terrier, Riley, greeting Grafton Hounds at Burghley.
We again exhibited at Bramham, before heading to Scotland for the Junior European Eventing Championships at Thirlestane Horse Trials. While the weather had cleared by the time we got there, a week of solid rain had left deep patches of mud which meant being towed both on and off site by a tractor. Whilst we were in pre-built shedding, it was a different type to Burghley and, ever resourceful, Emma had to 're-jig' our hanging system. By now we had accumulated quite a tool box of different equipment, so were able to adapt to most set ups. Ps: cable ties are a must, and we have the re-usable ones!
The mud also haunted us at Burghley, where heavy rain on the set up and dressage days almost led to the cancellation of the event. In the end it went ahead as scheduled, but the shopping aisles were a sea of ankle-deep mud. While we were lucky to be sited within the Lifestyle Pavilion next to a road, and had parked the horsebox (our accommodation for the show) facing and as close to the road as we could, we still only just managed to get out after the stand breakdown – all holding our breath as David, my partner (literally) slipped the lorry onto the hard standing. Some were not so fortunate, and I heard that they were towing lorries, first from the horse park, then from the trade stand area, well into the following morning.
At the end of October, we again exhibited at the Northern Ireland International Horse Show. Where we showed a favourite from this year, a large pastel piece: ‘Lifted’. I don’t do many paintings of show jumping, but in this, I saw something that inspired me to paint the various textures of leather and hide. It went on to become the first of a series of three paintings about texture, all focusing around the rider’s boot.
While we thoroughly enjoyed the Belfast show again, the hard work was made tougher by freezing conditions, which made carrying stock from the lorry to the show site (about a ten-minute walk) particularly hazardous. In the lorry park itself, the electricity generators kept cutting out as people turned on heaters and kettles. We resorted to using the (bottled gas) oven with the door open to keep warm (and internal heating from quite a bit of wine!). Again, we had a great show, and one of the course designers gave me some tips and exercises to improve my show-jumping. Unfortunately, it was the last year that the show ran. If it ever re-started, or a similar show was scheduled I would jump at the chance to return, though we would have to camp elsewhere as the Harland and Wolf site has now been developed into a museum.
As an aside, copyright infringement is an increasing problem for artists who post their work online (I have had a website for my business since I first started in 2001, and joined Social Media in 2011), and two incidents, both around the issue of copyright, occurred with this artwork. Firstly, when I first posted Lifted in a Facebook equine art group. I was immediately accused of copying a Will Baxter photograph. I had not. It is from my own reference in the collecting ring at Bramham, where BSJA classes are run over the weekend alongside the eventing classes. Will got involved in the discussion and confirmed that it was all my own work (becoming a friend in the process) and we met in person at Badminton a few years later. I mostly work from my own reference, and on the odd occasion that I have used other images (mostly to supplement images I have myself), I have contacted the originator to obtain permission, paying a copyright fee if requested. It is simple to look up and read the current legislation on UK copyright, and most countries, at least in the West, have similar laws under the Berne Convention.
In the second incident, it came to my attention that someone had copied Lifted (right) when it popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. Worse still, it had been directly traced, and seemingly copied to (presumably commissioned and paid for) order, as there were comments on the image about where the derivative image was ‘wrong’! Whilst I never found out who the ‘artist’ was, I sent a cease and desist letter (thanks to a friend of a friend who is an intellectual property laywer) to the livery business who had used the derivative as their avatar. The letter asked for immediate take down of the image, the artist’s details, and requested that the copy was destroyed. The image was removed from Facebook immediately, but I never received any reply and it would have been too expensive to pursue compensation. While it is annoying and unfair to me as an artist (and not at all flattering as some people have suggested), it is also deeply unfair to the client who acquired this piece as an original image, with no reproductions.
On a lighter note, my Christmas card in 2008 was ‘Red Coat’. I saw Scarlet on her Shetland pony at a meet and could not resist the drawing, especially as she is wearing her mother’s childhood red coat, and her father’s childhood knitted cap. There is something timeless in that.