Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

GAIL KELLY 'Holly' linocut on Irish linen £56

Merry Christmas readers! Thank you to our customers and all our artists for making 'Impressions of Galloway...' such a successful exhibition. We loved organising this show and we're proud of of the work we have had the pleasure to exhibit. The exhibition continues until the 31st of January.

Our Christmas and New Year opening times are as follows:

25th December CLOSED
26th December CLOSED
Saturday 27th December OPEN 10am - 5pm
Sunday 28th December OPEN 12pm - 4pm
Monday 29th December OPEN 10am - 5pm
Tuesday 30th December OPEN 10am - 5pm
Wednesday 31st December OPEN 10am - 5pm
1st - 2th January CLOSED
Saturday 3rd January OPEN 10am - 5pm
Monday 5th January Open 10am - 5pm (normal opening times resume)

Friday, 19 December 2008

Flowery Thank You

Look at the lovely flowers that Glen Murray Publishing gave us for our help with the launch of the book 'Series of Dreams' by John Burns. The signed copies that we have in the gallery have been flying off the shelf.

Thanks Glen - good colour choice - they look great next to E. A. Taylor's chair in the gallery!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

New York Inspiration

Here's the link to an article on the Crafts Scotland web site about Philomena Pretsell's work from our last exhibition, and the inspiration she got from a trip to New York.

We have enjoyed living with her pots in our kitchen for years, so for Jill and I, showing an exhibition of her work was such a pleasure. We still have a small number of pieces available in the gallery including some more 'Dachsie Dishes', inspired by Philomena's Wire Haired Dachshunds.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Review ~ The Galloway News

Here's the review, published in The Galloway News yesterday, of our new exhibition, 'Impressions of Galloway Past and Present'.

Galloway in all its glory is being celebrated in a new exhibition which started this week at the McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas. As is tradition at the gallery in December, the show includes Galloway and Scottish paintings from the 19th Century onwards. This year there is a vibrant new dimension to the gallery theme, as contemporary artists have also been asked to depict their own responses to Galloway.

‘Although none of the other artists knew what the other was creating, when we started to hang the exhibition it all went together beautifully. We especially noticed the glorious Galloway colours: heathery purples, gentle greens and soft light. The exhibition has a definite colour harmony’ said ZoĆ« Blamire, one of the Gallery owners.

The brief given to artists was a broad one; as long as their work depicted Galloway it could be landscape, people, animals or places. Not surprisingly the Galloway Landscape is a source of great inspiration but the wild birds and other animals also feature highly.

SUSAN DOBSON 'Cairn Holy I' Etching £220

Some artists who don’t live in the area went to great lengths to come and work in Galloway including Susan Dobson who slept in a camper van at Cairn Holy, near Gatehouse, so that she could sketch in preparation for making an etching of the iconic Galloway Standing Stones. Kitty Watt from John O’Groats began coming to Galloway to visit her daughter. After touring round the region, using her daughter as a guide, she created aquatint etchings inspired by the Red Kite Feeding station at Laurieston and the sculptures at Glenkiln.

EWAN McCLURE 'Fading Light, Kirkcudbright' Oil on Gesso Panel £950

For some artists the exhibition has been something of a homecoming. Ewan McClure, who now lives in Edinburgh and used to live in Auchencairn, said ‘I hadn’t done any landscape painting for a while and I really enjoyed working for the McGill Duncan Exhibition back in Galloway.’ He chose to depict ‘Rushes by The Dee’ and ‘Fading Light Kirkcudbright’, a landscape of Kirkcudbright viewed from across the estuary, with a Charolais bull grazing in the foreground. His last major exhibition was earlier in the year at Broughton House in Kirkcudbright, where he was commissioned to produce a body of work inspired by E.A. Hornel. 2008 has been a very successful year for him and he has just won the James Torrance Memorial award at the Royal Glasgow Institute (RGI).

This exhibition also celebrates a wealth of local talent including work by artist, poet and author John Threlfall and two beautifully wintry Oil paintings by Alexander Robb. Caro Barlow from Auchencairn has created dynamic stained glass panels and to keep everything local she even melted a Sulwarth Brewery bottle into one of her designs! Potter Christine Smith from Kippford has exhibited some pieces built using a clay ‘extruder’ as opposed to throwing pots on a wheel. This produces long, sometimes wavy, forms, an ideal medium to depict the sea and the people who love to spend time sailing or being in the water. ‘Long Swimmer’ highlights the beautiful flowing form of her clay panel and on a large ceramic piece is ‘Speedy’, a mischievous boy in a Speed boat, whom Christine describes as ‘a boy with an outboard motor, defying the Urr Navigation speed limit!’
The exhibition runs until January the 31st and will be open between Christmas and New Year.

Thursday, 11 December 2008



The delighted purchaser of Christine's ceramic piece 'Speedy' has taken him home already, so I thought he should have a place on the Blog. I am sad that he is not in the gallery to be enjoyed by all our visitors but he has gone to a good home!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Anita Klein Etchings

ANITA KLEIN 'Butterfly at Breakfast'
image size 44 x 31 cm framed size 68 x 56.5cm
Framed price £335

The work that I got from Anita Klein in London is just back after being framed by Roger. All are signed and numbered original etchings or drypoint etchings.

I am excited about developing our web site and in the New Year we will be offering an online shopping facility but in the mean time I will put images of work on the Blog. Our latest Galloway exhibition has sold very well and with many people taking the work away before Christmas the exhibition will probably have some new additions over the next month.

ANITA KLEIN 'The Birds Wake Me Up'
image size 44 x 31 cm framed size 68 x 56.5cm
Framed price £335

ANITA KLEIN 'Angel in Spring'
image size 29.5 x 24.5cm, framed size 52 x 49.5cm
Framed price £265

ANITA KLEIN 'Angel Planning'
image size 12 x 9.5cm, framed size 27 x 26cm
Framed price £120

ANITA KLEIN 'Small Angel with Stars'
image size 10 x 12cm, framed size 26 x 30cm
Framed price £120

Sunday, 7 December 2008

A Busy Book Launch

The gallery was bursting at the seams this afternoon for the launch of John Burns' book 'Series of Dreams'. I know John is delighted by the number of friends who came to support the publication of his new book, many traveling great distances to join us. Big thanks to everyone who made the event such a happy gathering.

John spent the afternoon busily signing copies and had to give his talk three times to get round the fact that people were packed into all the different rooms in the gallery!

The book is an ideal Christmas present for the Bob Dylan fan in your life and we have signed copies for sale.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Impressions of Galloway Opens

What a busy and enjoyable day it's been today...

Jools arrived early to get the mulled wine ready and Jem also came and helped out with all the last minute jobs before we opened.

After all the hard work getting everything ready it was really satisfying to have everything in the gallery looking to so seasonal and connected with Galloway and Scotland.

This was probably the busiest day we've had since we opened the gallery and it's fantastic to work with so many brilliant artists to put on shows like this. Impressions of Galloway is an exhibition we are very proud of.

I feel very lucky that so many people come to support our Openings; there is always such a friendly atmosphere and such enthusiasm for the work on show.

Here are Jill and Roger clearing up at the end of the day!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Galloway Colours - Purples and Greens

Jill and Amanda Simmons

When Amanda Simmons delivered her work today (beautiful purple and green vessels inspired by the colours of the countryside and skies at her home in Corsock) we were struck by the colour harmonies in the room. The work is almost hung and although none of the other artists knew what the other was creating for our exhibition there is a definite cohesion: it must be the colours of Galloway.

Look forward to seeing you all on Saturday, the Private View is from 11am to 1pm and we are open the rest of the day until 5pm as normal. We will be serving delicious Mulled Wine made by Jools Cox and a non-alcoholic warm spiced punch.

Book Launch - This Sunday

Get your copy of The Galloway News today to read about 'Series of Dreams' the new Bob Dylan book by local author John Burns (pictured).

Remember we are hosting the book launch at the Gallery on Sunday the 7th of December at 3pm. All welcome.

It's going to be a very busy weekend for us here but we're all looking forward to it. We will be lighting the coal fires so that everyone stays warm in this freezing weather.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Late Night Shopping

We will be open for late night shopping tomorrow (Thursday the 4th of December) until 7.30pm.

Join us for a glass of Ginger Wine in the Gallery and then wander down to Carlingwark Park at 8pm to see the fireworks.

Gift wrapping is a something we are always happy to do for you, at any time of the year. I particularly love this task and Jill is coming round to enjoying it! Customers will also receive a limited edition McGill Duncan jute shopping bag.

Castle Douglas is fantastic for Christmas shopping and with so many shops and cafes open late on Thursday it should be a stress free and enjoyable way to buy your Christmas presents.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Mia visits the Gallery

Sue Dunne, Mia and Jill

We had a busy day with lots of new work arriving for the exhibition on Saturday. Sue Dunne and Rosie Villiers-Stuart delivered their work with canine companion Mia, a very pretty Collie. The photo shows Jill holding Sue's ceramic Hooper swans and Rosie's watercolour in the background. Tea and biscuits were enjoyed by all with lots of chat about birds - Rosie and Sue had been staying at Caerlaverock Nature Reserve, which is heaven for artists who love birds!

CHRISTINE SMITH Doves and Cabbages Earthenware Dish £42

Christine's husband Rodger delivered her work, staying to have tea and biscuits with the ladies. It's great to see how much how much Christine's ceramics are developing and changing since she started using her new clay extruder. This enables her to achieve long clay forms, including wavy ones! Lots of boats, fish and swimmers...

Saturday, 29 November 2008

The Royal Glasgow Institute

EWAN MCCLURE Self Portrait

There is only one day left of the RGI show at The Mitchell in Glasgow, it closes tomorrow.

I am pleased to say that Ewan McClure won the James Torrance Memorial Award for his Self Portrait. All the paintings in this annual exhibition are for sale and not surprisingly Ewan's painting has been sold. Congratulations Ewan!

I enjoyed the show, some paintings more than others, as is to be expected. David Sinclair's 'The Open Window' is an outstanding painting. I also greatly admire Helen Wilson's work and loved her 'Tiny Dancer'.

Ewan has been working on two new paintings for our December exhibition Impressions of Galloway Past and Present, which opens a week today on the 6th of December. They are titled 'Fading Light, Kirkcudbright' and 'Rushes by the Dee', I picked them up from Ewan at Waverley station last week. When I got back to the gallery and unwrapped them, both Jill and I instantly loved them. I think seeing new work straight from the people who created it, often before anyone else has seen it, is such a privilege and one of the nicest parts of our job!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Catch it while you can!

MIKE TURPIE Eucalyptus Forest Oil on Canvas 90 x 90cm £1500

If you haven't seen this show you only have one week left. Our Bella Green, Gail Kelly, Mike Turpie and Philomena Pretsell exhibition closes this Saturday, the 29th of November.

Don't miss it!

I have really enjoyed being in the gallery with this lively vibrant work. They are paintings to warm the soul on a cold winter's day.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Photo Shoot

Jill, John and me outside the gallery after John's photo shoot.

Today author John Burns came to the gallery to have his publicity shots taken for the launch of his book.

We now have some signed copies available for sale in the gallery.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Coming soon

They're in production as I type, so coming soon to the gallery:

Our 2008 Christmas card, Polar Bear Party.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Series of Dreams - Book Launch

I am delighted to announce the publication of Series of Dreams by my good friend John Burns. Published by 'Glen Murray Publishing', this book is available from today and you can buy your copy online here. Postage is free in the UK.

John is a writer and teacher who lives in Galloway. In Series of Dreams: the vision songs of Bob Dylan he looks at all of Dylan's major albums from the 'sixties to the present and shows how Dylan transmutes philosophical and musical ideas into a visionary art that can change the way we feel and think about how we live.

We will be hosting the official launch at the Gallery on Sunday 7th December at 3pm. John will give a short talk and be available to sign copies of the book. Please join us for a drink and an afternoon of literary and musical conversation...

SEIZURE ART - Extended Opening

Here are some photos (I took them with my iphone) from Seizure by Roger Hiorns. My friend Kerry told me about this piece.

After taking the tube to Elephant and Castle we donned wellies and went inside a tiny council flat. All the surfaces have been covered in copper sulphate crystals.

The flat is very small and destined for destruction on a condemned housing estate. The Crystals physically bring the walls in closer around you, magnifying the reality of the small living space. The glittering blue crystals give a grotto like experience in an unlikely space.

Seizure was due to close on 2nd November but I've just heard that opening has been extended until 30th November.

Monday, 17 November 2008

The countdown begins

I've spent the last few days getting a flurry of emails from the artists who are taking part in our Christmas Exhibition Impressions of Galloway Past and Present. Now I have the titles and prices I am making labels and putting together the catalogue. I must say I am very excited about the work we are going to show.

Following the Christmas tradition at McGill Duncan Gallery we will have Galloway and Scottish paintings from the 19th century onwards.

What is exciting and different about this year's exhibition is that we have asked contemporary artists to contribute work depicting their response to Galloway. Local artists are taking part as well as artists from much further afield.

I have been so touched by the enthusiasm that the invited artists have shown for our exhibition brief. Most of the work in this exhibition has been created specially for the gallery. I have no doubt it will hold its own when displayed next to the work of artists who were so inspired by Galloway in the past.

Here's a photo of Susan Dobson drawing at Cairn Holy. She has created two dramatic Etchings with Aquatint of these iconic Galloway standing stones for us. What a beautiful setting, I love the pink hat Susan!


Friday, 14 November 2008

A Gaggle of Geese

LISA HOOPER A Gaggle of Geese woodcut £240 unframed

I read this news today, when I was putting together Lisa Hooper's updated CV for our upcoming Christmas exhibition:
at the National Exhibition of Wildlife Art 2008 Lisa's woodcut A Gaggle of Geese was awarded “the most outstanding piece of avian art” by Birds Illustrated magazine.

Congratulations Lisa!

This woodcut was very popular in our exhibition with Lisa earlier in the year and we still have one edition of it for sale in the gallery.

Lisa has made two fantastic new prints for our Christmas Exhibition which opens on December the 6th.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Piero Della Francesca


I have artists Nigel Swift and Anita Klein to thank for introducing me to the work of Piero Della Francesca when I was in Italy.

I really can't get these paintings out of my head and even if I could I wouldn't want to. My friend Christine Smith told me about his work in the National Gallery and I went to see them when I was in London.

I had really sore feet from tramping round galleries all day so all I did was stand in front of his work and stare and stare. I didn't feel the need to look at any one else's paintings. The Baptism of Christ is a truly extraordinary painting.

Just now I'm reading The Piero Della Francesca Trail by John Pope Hennessy with an essay, The Best Picture by Aldous Huxley.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Obama ART

Obama by Barry Hill

Here's a fantastic piece of graphic art by Barry Hill, constructed with the words from "I have a dream" by Martin Luther King.

In the summer I went to stay with Barry and my cousin Joanna and we talked excitedly about possible outcome of the US elections. Barry had just created this piece and I'm so glad that our hopes for the election came true.

I love the way he's highlighted the words Yes We Can.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

What is a print?

GAIL KELLY Fairy Wood - Kirkmadrine, Stranraer

Gail Kelly has produced some wonderful lithographs for our latest exhibition, many of them are of Galloway and some are Irish Landscapes. She even made one of our gallery garden.

I have done some basic print making and I'm aware how most prints are produced but I was never sure about the techniques that go into producing a lithograph.

Here's a great visual explanation of lithography and other printing techniques by MOMA: What is a print?

Review - The Galloway News

Gail Kelly & Bella Green

A review of our current exhibition with artists Bella Green, Gail Kelly, Philomena Pretsell and Mike Turpie was published today in The Galloway News.

Here's the Review:

Multi Media Art Exhibition

A dynamic quartet of artists are showing their work this month at McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas. The artists are all working in diverse mediums from ceramics to lithographic printmaking and oils but the show as a whole is a vibrant celebration of colour and life.

From her home in Mid Lothian Ceramicist Philomena Pretsell recently made a research trip to New York City. There she was able to immerse herself in street art and the work of nameless graffiti artists. This made her reflect on the way artists can bring joy and life to even the greyest of spaces. Philomena says, “These are Pots of joy in a grey world. Contemplative in a way that stimulates the mind to ask questions they are often ironic; they can invite a smile at those assumptions made in our ordinary lives.” Although her medium is clay the pots almost look like they could jump, dance or sing if they wanted to: she has captured the frenetic creative energy of New York and thrown it back at us with more than a touch of irony spun into the clay.

For Northern Ireland artist Gail Kelly, her lithographs for this exhibition are largely based on an inspirational trip round Galloway. Earlier this year Gail visited the region during the Spring Fling open studio event and while touring round the studios she was captivated by the landscape. This new work was born out of her yearlong association with the McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas as she often visits to bring her work over from Northern Ireland. Jill says, “In the past year we have had many artists come to stay with us and it is wonderful to see the inspiration they get from our beautiful Galloway landscapes.”

Bella Green lives and paints locally in Eskdalemuir and also in Tuscany where she teaches. She produces works in oils using rich vivid colours to respond to light, heat or a time of day. Her energetic and spontaneous landscapes show impressions of places in Scotland and Italy. Her Still life paintings convey the pattern and design of domestic life with a decorative almost rhythmic approach as in Birthday or Red Blind.
When Bella described her technique she said, “Sometimes I work quickly and freely and at other times a more considered and contemplative method feels right.” Bella’s energy and enjoyment of her surroundings are obvious in her work, no more so than in the two paintings of the Red and Blue shoes she wears to dance the Tango!

Bold brushwork and colours that almost take your breath away are hallmarks of Mike’s large oil paintings. He describes his work as “new expressionism”. He captures atmospheric effects and the beauty and drama of the skies whether painting in Scotland or South America. His style has proved very popular with buyers in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In contrast to his painting, Mike’s etchings of Edinburgh and the Borders evoke the exactness of landmark buildings and hills using a variety of tones and textures.

From Graffiti in New York to tango dancing or trekking in the wilds of South America or Scotland, the pictures and ceramics for sale at McGill Duncan Gallery offer a varied and exciting view of the world.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Lucian in London

Lucian Freud Girl in Dark Jacket

I'm just back from London and full of plans for our exhibition programme in 2009. I had a really enjoyable time meeting artists and seeing lots of different parts of London. I can't say too much now but exciting times lie ahead for the gallery. Plans include a major Print makers exhibition in the Spring and the fabulous work of a sculptor who casts in bronze, which will be available in the gallery in August 2009.

I was lucky enough to take in quite a few exhibitions and if you are in London with time to visit some galleries I can highly recommend the early Lucian Freud works at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert in St James's. The exhibition is full of gems. I found it incredibly inspiring, his work is full of rare integrity and the keenest observation. The little Oil of lemons is the most delicious painting of lemons I have ever seen!

What Are You Like? at Dulwich Picture Gallery is a small collection of drawings by some famous and not so famous people in the public eye. Looking at the untitled pictures and guessing the artists is the name of the game. It's incredibly good fun. I'm always fascinated by people's favourite things and this is very revealing of the various personalities involved. Everything from favourite clothes, animals, weather and comforts are depicted - the perfect exhibition for a nosey person!

The Flemming Collection
has a brilliant collection of Joan Eardleys on show now. If you missed the huge retrospective of her work at the RSA in Edinburgh at the end of 2007 this is a great chance to see some of her best work. She's probably one of my favourite artists of all time.

ROTHKO Red on Maroon

Before catching the train my last stop was Tate Modern to see the later work of Rothko. I viewed the paintings with an audio tour headset and enjoyed hearing the music that inspired him and some of the background and history to his commissions and the methods and media in which he worked. The work is at its best hung in a vast space, so that it dominates the environment. I felt the power of it and went away with a little more insight into the man.

I will have to make a return visit to see Byzantium at the Royal Academy it looks like an extraordinary collection.


Monday, 27 October 2008

The Gallery Garden

The Gallery Garden

We inherited a beautifully designed garden from Niall Duncan - the oak trees were grown from acorns collected by him at the start of the McGill Duncan Gallery over 30 years ago. He placed an old fashioned lamp post at the bottom of the winding path and on frosty days it reminds me of Narnia!

Not wanting to change the basic design we asked our friends Bob and Val at Cairnsmore Nursery to recommend some plants for the shady spots and give the garden a bit of a manicure.
A (rare) sunny Autumn day

New planting

Now we look forward to Spring...


Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Autumn colours


I'm back from a wonderful trip to Italy. It was sunny and warm and the light was hazy. Every morning the mists hung low over the fields and cleared to reveal the most beautiful Autumn colours.

Our new exhibition started on Sunday and Jill made a fabulous job getting the exhibition ready. Philomena Pretsell's ceramics have been in our kitchen for years and we are now lucky enough to have them in the gallery. Philomena received an Scottish Arts Council traveling award and her latest work is inspired by a trip to New York and the graffiti that she saw in the city.

This exhibtion is full of life and colour and many of the paintings in the gallery reflect the vibrant Autumn colours that I love so much.

BELLA GREEN Blue Road, Tuscany

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Off to Italy

ANITA KLEIN Angelo del Arcobaleno

I'm off to London tomorrow and then on to Italy on Saturday. I'll be drawing, painting and print making and hopefully getting inspiration from the italian countryside for a week. The holiday is with artists Anita Klein and Nigel Swift. I love Anita's work and I am looking forward to my first trip to Italy so much.

Amongst other things I'll have a chance to see the work of Piero Della Francesca as I'm staying near Arezzo.

Luckily I'm back in time for the Private View of our Bella Green, Gail Kelly, Philomena Pretsell and Mike Turpie Exhibtion on Sunday the 19th on October. I managed to get lots of preparation done for the exhibition this week but it still means I am leaving Jill to hang all the work on her own!


Friday, 3 October 2008

The Galloway News

Read the review of our current exhibition from The Galloway News here.


The last of the Sweet Peas

The scent of Sweet Peas has been filling the Gallery all summer but I'm sad to say this week marks the end of the season. It has really been over for a while but we were still getting an odd flower here and there. I'll miss them. We always bring flowers into the Gallery, mostly posies from our garden, they make a room feel complete.

Autumn has brought us some beautiful new blooms, and our garden has an abundance of vibrant Kaffir Lilies. 

We are lucky to have a customer, Jo, who is a really keen gardener and brings us cut flowers for the Gallery, this week she brought Nerine Lilies which are standing proudly in the window .

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Amazing Rare Things and other Treasures

GRAYSON PERRY God Please Keep My Children Safe
from Love at The National Gallery

I'm just back from a fantastic trip to London. The exhibitions I saw were outstanding and I'll always remember my three days packed with looking at some of the greatest art in the world.

I got off the train and went straight to the National Gallery to see their Love Exhibition. A beautiful painting by one of my favourite artists, Chagall, greeted me as I walked though the door. It was a small show but really well composed. I was fascinated by two works by the Singh Twins (picture above).

The next morning I went to The Courtauld Institute at Somerset House to see the Cezanne exhibition. I loved this exhibition, a collection of fascinating letters and sketches really helped to convey the way he worked and what he was trying to achieve with his art. The rest of the Courtauld collection was amazing. One of the highlights for me was a room dedicated to the Bloomsbury Group, including pottery and furniture. I also spent a long time looking at the early religious art and I was delighted to find a work by Spinello Aretino, who worked in Arezzo in the 14th century. I'm off to Italy, staying not very far from there next month. Seeing such wonderful Italian painting made me look forward to my holiday even more!

The main reason for my trip to London was to see the Viktor and Rolf exhibition at the Barbican and the talk by Grayson Perry with his dress maker Sonja Harms. I wasn't expecting this at all, but I found the impact of Viktor and Rolf's work so powerful at one point I had tears in my eyes. The exhibition had been curated and constructed with the kind of care that Viktor and Rolf put into their designs: a six metre high white dolls house dominated the centre of the show, complete with dolls dressed in miniatures of their iconic designs.
Grayson Perry was great fun, he talked about his work, his transvestism and his life with such eloquence and intelligence. It was a real insight into his creative process, although he was keen to point out that his dresses are not his art, but a very important hobby! He brought the famous Turner Prize dress and very generously let everyone have a good look at a whole rack of his clothes. What I loved about them were all the details and trimmings. Many of them are heavily machine embroidered from his own drawings. I particularly liked the 'Artist's cloak' with intricate embroidery of the floor plan of The Met and beautiful pottery buttons.

The next day I went to the Queen's Gallery to see Amazing Rare Things, an exhibition of natural history drawings and watercolours. The exhibition started with a truly breathtaking collection of Leonardo Da Vinci drawings (his drawings of brambles were my favourite) followed by watercolours of exotic creatures, fruits and flowers. It certainly lived up to it's title and I felt so lucky be able to see such amazing, vibrant, art work from a time when people were making so many new discoveries in the natural world.

I then zipped round the Royal Mews and Buckingham Palace before catching the train back home. Can't wait to go back...