For the last few open days I worked in the cottage, showing people my work and sharing my research. For this session we decided instead to run a drop-in drawing workshop. This is also a wonderful link to my research on both John Barrow and his wife Lady Barrow (formerly Anna Maria Truter). As I’ve written about in previous posts, both were keen botanical artists, in particular Lady Barrow when she was younger. It also gave me the opportunity to use the cottage garden as a place to engage people with the project – something I’ve been wanting to do since the beginning as it’s such a big space which is very open and I think quite welcoming.

My last visit was during the heatwave, and when we were planning the workshop it seemed as though this was never going to end. I imagined a day of glorious sunshine, where we could all sit on picnic blankets. Of course, come the 12th of August the weather had broken and it had rained quite a bit, which was probably a good thing or there might not have been much left to draw.

Luckily, it was damp but not raining by 11am, so I gathered up everyone who had come along and we all went out in to the garden. After talking through the paper, pens and processes I use to draw, there was suddenly a spell of silence as everyone concentrated on their own drawings. Eventually the rain did come along, so we took some weeds that wouldn’t be missed, added them to a vase of teasels and other seed heads and drew inside instead.


I also used the opportunity to take photos of any wildlife I could find in the garden, and even found a ladybird on my jumper who I think had sneaked in with us to escape the rain.

I really enjoyed this workshop – both the opportunity to meet people and the chance to share my passion for drawing the natural world. Drawing is such an important part of my life, and I feel it has taught me to look at the world more closely and carefully. John Hall shared some really interesting ideas about about drawing on the project blog:

‘Drawing is fundamental; it’s a way of developing an understanding of the world by examining it and giving an account of what you see. A way of defining the relationship between you and what isn’t you. It can be difficult and requiring of a cold eye. It can be a way of passing on primary information about personal experience or objective reality.
Equally, it can provoke a shared experience. And if you work in other disciplines, requiring a different kind of enquiry or response it can be like calling home.’

You can see more photos and read this rest of the post here.

For the next workshops I’ll be running a ‘Print your own bookplate’ session, inspired by the bookplates in the books at the cottage. The provisional date is Sunday 23rd of September, so keep an eye out for more information or join me at my Facebook page where I’ll be adding more details.

Eleanor Chaney