Diary of an Artist in Residence

Artist in Residence Karen Bowers writes about her time at Hidcote

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Autumnal maple leaves at Hidcote, a National Trust property in Gloucestershire
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'I have had the privilege and freedom over the last two years to walk through the gardens and observe them through the seasons. The gardens are a potential never ending source of inspiration. The rooms that were created by Lawrence Johnston have very different atmospheres and lead through from one to another with tantalising glimpses through small gaps in the hedges.The winter is a wonderful time to see the garden when many of the plants and trees have lost their greenery; this creates dramatic skeletal shapes and glimpses of the spaces beyond. The spring and summer have the promise of abundance that is overwhelming in its layering of colour and shape, tiny details and beauty. Autumn brings a quietness again but with dramatic changes of colour; hedges start to become transparent and the ground is covered with an orange carpet.

I have spent many hours in the garden making watercolours, sketches and taking photographs, noting the shapes and areas I am interested in. I take all these ways of recording back to the studio and slowly piece the information together before starting an oil painting.

My paintings are not intended to be true likenesses of Hidcote, nor my flowers botanical, but they are moments that have stopped me in my tracks. I am attempting to convey something of a sense of place and a love of the colour and atmosphere of this special garden.'

" The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives."
- Gertrude Jekyll

Karen Bowers trained in fine art, and alongside her painting career, worked for eight years in London in textile design. She graduated from Cheltenham Art College in 2012 with an MA in Fine Art, which has enabled her to return to her creative origins and to explore her love of nature and landscape.

Karen’s father lived near Hidcote Manor Garden. When she was young she used to play with friends in the fields at the edge of the garden. She started visiting the garden in the 1980s and has returned many times since. The opportunity to be Artist in Residence was a perfect fit. The garden itself and a natural curiosity for the minute detail of the flowers and plants growing there have provided an endless source of inspiration for her work.

This is the second show at Hidcote, concentrating mainly on autumn and summer in the garden. The first show in 2014 observed the garden over the winter and spring months.

Karen’s paintings have been exhibited both locally and nationally. She has been selected for the RA summer exhibition, the Royal West of England autumn Exhibition, the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition and the Lynn Painter Stainers Competition.



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