I’ve really got into the Back to School spirit this September and have launched lots of new classes, workshops and courses at Slamseys. Although it’s today that feels like the first day of term as it’s the week that the yoga and pilates classes start up again, our new term of events is already under way.
Last Thursday was the launch of the brand new Creative People Networking Group that I recently set up. I know that there are lots of creative people in the local area, but I just didn’t know where to find them, so I thought, well I’ll make them come to me – and they did!
We had ten people arrive at the barn for our first meeting, bringing a really interesting mix of skills, interests and knowledge with them. There was someone who does willow weaving, someone who makes personalised bunting (I know her as Aunt Josephine), greetings cards and stationery creators, budding photographers, artists, writers, cake decorators and more!
It’s really exciting for me to speak to these local creative types and for us to come up with new ideas for how we can work together in the future – already in the pipeline are some new workshops for the barn and collaborations for next year’s art trail which is all about food & kitchens.
Find out more about our Creative People Networking Group meetings.
I’m really excited for the rest of my Back to School workshops and courses this week – next up is our free art group which starts on Thursday and then on Friday the first of our new five week short courses kicks off – I can’t wait!
It’s official – we are now in Summer. Yesterday the Essex Summer of Art launched their season of events. This year there are 38 art trails across the county for you to explore, featuring painting, printmaking, sculpture, glass, photography and more. There is so much on offer and all for free so I really recommend visiting as many as you can.
Here at Slamseys we were extra excited because the launch party was happening in our very own Barley Barn on the farm. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks installing giant insects made from reclaimed metal by local artist Graham Thrussell. We’ve placed his fantastic art onto tractor tyres, pallet plinths and tree trunks and I have to say that it looks absolutely brilliant!
In the main barn we have an exhibition called AFTERLIFE, the headline artist is Gillian Allard from Suffolk, with her intriguing photographs of animals once they have passed away. She has a brilliant use of light throughout the series and gives each creature a dignity in death. For the launch yesterday we were treated to a video installation detailing a fox decomposing over a three week period – it wasn’t for the squeamish, but was a fantastic display of nature at work.
After a slight hiccup with our taxidermy exhibits, I am really grateful to the John Ray Gallery at our local Braintree District Museum, for loaning us some fabulous taxidermy specimens as well as a deer and fox skull replica. Dunmow based artist Edward Norman (whose mammoth canvas is on permanent display in the barn) also came up trumps with several small cabinets of curiosity on very short notice, which make an excellent addition to our display.
The exhibition and sculpture trail as part of the Slamseys Art Month are open Thursdays-Saturdays 10:00-16:00 until the 27 June. We also have a special event on Sunday for the national Open Farm events – more to follow on that one.
If you like the unusual, the intriguing and the wonderful, then please come and say hi and make your way along our art trail.
For more information about the Essex Summer of Art, have a look at VisitEssex.
One of my favourite things about Spring and Summer is that the butterflies start to flit around the garden. Last year I had one of those packets of seeds that encouraged birds and butterflies – although I have to say there were more insects than anything else. Still, worth a shot to have a couple of butterflies in the garden.
John Ray was a local naturalist – he lived just down the road from Slamseys Farm and spent his lifetime studying botany, zoology and natural theology, as well as completing important works on the classification of plants and animals. Butterflies were one of his greatest passions:
“You ask what is the use of butterflies?
I reply to adorn the world and delight the eyes of men;
to brighten the countryside like so many golden jewels.
To contemplate their exquisite beauty and variety is to
experience the truest pleasure”
John Ray, 1691
There are lots of things here at Slamseys that have been inspired by John Ray and his love of nature: From the bottles of my sister’s Slamseys Sloe Gin, to our upcoming Art Month in June, which is themed around ‘The Natural World’.
As part of our Art Month and Art Trail (part of the Essex Summer of Art) we will be having a sculpture park in Dovehouse Paddock, where local sculptor Graham Thrussell will be displaying his giant insects, including an interactive butterfly sculpture – sounds exciting doesn’t it?!
I’m also excited because we will be holding an Entomology class here in the barn at the end of the month with our taxidermy tutor Elle Kaye. In this relaxing workshop, we’ll learn how to preserve, pin, dry and assemble butterflies. There’ll be tea and cake and maybe even a little taster of gin!
So many things that I’m so excited for! For all the updates about our Art Month, sign up to our newsletter.
Next weekend is one of the most important weekends for many of our friends here at Slamseys – it’s Mother’s Day! Here’s my top five treats to enjoy together.
Garnetts Farmer’s Market, Barnston
Get an early start and head off to Great Garnetts monthly Farmer’s Market at Barnston. You can pick up a lovely joint of meat for lunch on Sunday as well as homemade breads, preserves, sweet treats and more. There’s always a lot to see and the markets are always popular.
Chocolate Truffle Workshop at Slamseys Art, Great Notley
Next up, it’s time to get chocolatey! I love it when Hilary from Choctails comes to Slamseys – the smell of melting chocolate fills the whole of the barn – and I always manage to sneak away a few squares of chocolates to indulge in. This is the perfect workshop for you and your mum to enjoy together, as you taste, temper, roll, dip and decorate chocolate truffles – but make sure you book your places online as this workshop is normally a sell out.
Buy a Bouquet, Springfield Florist, Chelmsford
In the afternoon head over to Springfield Florist and choose one of their beautiful bouquets or design your own from their wide range of flowers.
Enjoy a country walk
Make sure you grab a lie in on Sunday morning before taking a leisurely walk around the countryside. There are lots of brilliant public footpaths, cycle trails and bridleways around us – my favourite is the John Ray Walk.
Homemade Sunday Lunch
Finally it’s time for the most important meal of the week – the Sunday Roast! The key to a great roast is good quality, locally grown and reared products. Grab some seasonal vegetables like leeks, artichokes and swede, maybe do something special with the roast potatoes, like add a clove of garlic or a sprig of rosemary. And while it’s all cooking away, sit back and enjoy a glass of English sparkling wine with a good glug of Slamseys Raspberry Gin.