Sunday, April 22, 2012

London calling and so much more...

 This is London © 2012 Megan Chapman

Hello Dear Readers,

I am just back from my adventures in England. I am tired and exhausted but happily so. It was a wonderful trip filled with art, wonderful architecture, and super lovely people. Let's begin...

But wait! Before I left for England there were some exciting and beautiful things happening here in Scotland that I don't want to forget. Firstly, Stewart and Kevin gave a very successful art talk at Union Gallery the Saturday before we left. There was a nice turn out and the talk went really well. Stewart comes alive when talking about his work and it is always fun to witness.The talk was done in a conversational style and Stewart seemed to thrive on the experience of leading the talk with probing questions that each artist answered and then bantered back and forth. It was a great idea and I am so glad I was there to witness it. I also talked to some great art patrons that were there, they happened to be fans of my work as well and had lots to talk to me about! Always a pleasant surprise. After the talk, there was tasty Chinese food with Stewart's Mom.

The next day we took the train to Dunbar, Scotland. There were blazing rapeseed fields, cute cottages, sea waves and wind farms off in the distance. It was a lovely day trip enjoying sweet people, good food, a pretty garden and doggies! It was good to get out of the city and walk along the seaside enjoying Stewart's friends Richard and Amanda and their lovely home.

Monday was all about packing and getting ready for our holiday in England. On Tuesday we walked to the train station and our journey began! First we headed to Birmingham...

I was excited and looking forward to the trip. I didn't know what lay ahead of me. With the spirit of adventure, I was ready to sit back and watch the world go past. My first trip to England!

It was a lovely train journey, with rolling green hills, mammoth wind farms, a glimpse of the Irish Sea, strange yellow light and fields of sheep. As we passed villages, through train stations, old buildings and factories scattered across the landscape of Scotland and England outside the train window.

We arrived in Birmingham to a house of kids and energy, coloring at the dinner table, a warm meal and lemon drizzle cake. It was a great start to our English holiday. Early the next morning, we would be heading out to London...

We caught the train from Birmingham and then we caught the tube. I met my friend and fellow artist Deborah Burrow for tea and chat which was a thrill. Then we walked over and inside St. Paul's Cathedral. We said good bye to the lovely Debs and then walked in the rain to the Tate Modern. I enjoyed walking over the Millennium bridge over the Thames and looking around at the city. Once inside the Tate Modern we took in the art. We were saddened to find out that a section containing much of the art from the permanent collection was closed. We also didn't want to pay to see any of the three pay exhibitions. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the surrealist selections, the view from the balcony and just being in this famous gallery. We did the Tate Modern in about forty-five minutes, almost shameful for two artists to breeze through it in such a manner, but to quote my friend Mr. Smith's son Joe, "it's big but there's nothing here worth seeing."

We popped into a smaller gallery and then continued our rainy but lovely walk along the Thames. We saw Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery (there were so many amazing and important works of art viewed with awe, such as this and this.) There was a quick stop at the Portrait Gallery, we then walked through Soho, and took a tube ride to find some Ethiopian food for our dinner (my most favorite cuisine).

It was surreal to be in such a well documented city. To walk past Big Ben and to hear it chime...people asked me if I could live in London afterwards... I am not sure it is my kind of place, it felt a bit like this... but for a visit it was fabulous!

Thursday we spent the day with Dr. Craig as our tour guide around the city of Birmingham. We walked into town sometimes in the rain and sometimes not. There was a visit to Ikon Gallery- where we went up and down in the singing glass elevator! I loved it, I could have gone up and down all day. All elevators should sing! Notice how I am not talking too much about the art there...SINGING ELEVATOR!!!! (enough said) Then there was some more walking and we had Bento for lunch. Yum. Then we visited the Birmingham Gallery and Museum where I saw a lovely Modigliani and many famous Pre-Raphaelites. It was a calm day walking around town, looking at art and buildings. I think I also need to mention the Jaffa Cake donut from Greggs. Later, Stewart cooked dinner for us all and I did some bead work with Dr. Craig's son Rory and we all had a nice chat.

On Friday morning we left Birmingham and took the train to Manchester. Steven Heaton was there to meet us at the train station. It was surreal and lovely to see and meet my dear friend for the very first time. I have known Steven and his work in since December of 2007. He had been my virtual studio mate before I had a studio outside my home. He was constantly involved in my painting process as I was in his. Steven has supported and influenced me in many ways over the years and vise versa and I am grateful. It was he who introduced me to Blip foto and we all know what has come from that introduction...

We walked through the rain to a lovely cafe/shop called Oklahoma! We had lunch and chatted, it was such a very good place for Steven to take us. Homespun and sweet, a comfortable place to unwind after our train journey. Steven's friend, also an artist, Nick joined us and was a burst of fresh and fun energy and even gave me a mixed CD! Nick told us stories that we all want to read. From there we went to the Manchester Museum and Gallery and saw a very lovely Modigliani and many other fine works of art, some mind blowing works of beauty. After the art we went back to Steven's place and chatted around the kitchen table. John Spurgeon came a long with a gift for me of Rat Girl and then later we went to the Black Swan pub down the road where Steven's brother, Rob also met us. There was conversation about art, music, and idle chatter with many Zenith IPA's being consumed. I stayed up until 2am (this has not happened in a long time). It was so great to meet everyone and have some fun.

On Saturday, Steven took us to the OK studios in Standish. It was a lovely place with open studios and we got to meet many of the artists there. Steven is about to become the director of the place.... a perfect fit. We also saw Steven's work and it was beyond all my expectations having only seen his masterpiece online. I even collected a painting that had been promised to me years ago! It was a great visit with art, conversation, encouragement and inspiration. Just what Stewart and I needed. In the future I will dedicate a full blog post to the OK studios and the artists there. Then it was back to the train station where I hugged my friend goodbye and we headed back to Edinburgh...

I enjoyed the train ride back to Edinburgh, thinking of all the art we had seen, all the famous buildings, the lovely people we met, visited, and stayed with and just how wonderful life can be when you take the chance, make a plan, have an adventure and just push forward. Special thanks and love to Craig Munro, Claire, Rory, Euan, Deborah Eileen Burrow, Steven Heaton, Wendy, Nick, John Spurgeon, and Rob Kedward for the places to stay, food to eat, drinks to drink, excellent tour guiding, laughs and even some gifts! Thanks also to the inspiring artists at OK Studios in Standish.

I am grateful to be living this life, to be an artist, to have the friends I have and to be who I am. Special thanks and love to Stewart for taking me on such a grand adventure and being such an excellent travel companion. Having a picnic on a train on a Saturday evening as the countryside rolls by seems just about perfect.

I have twelve more days in Scotland and I wonder, what is going to happen next?


  1. You are both special people and I'm glad we had the opportunity to meet. Look forward to seeing you next time - wherever that may be ;)