Painting ‘Afternoon Tea’ at the Hotel du Vin, Bristol

Bristol is my home town and a uniquely inspiring place for artists. From wide open vistas enjoyed from many city viewpoints such as the iconic Suspension Bridge to dockland walks and city cafés there’s plenty here to get those creative juices flowing.

It’s the go to city for arty people with a plethora of festivals, art trails, world famous street art, galleries, eclectic museums, great local pubs and unspoiled parks. You can find out more about what Bristol has to offer visitors here

Walking up and down Bristol’s hilly terrain you will inevitably work up an appetite so what could possibly be nicer than a special treat of Afternoon Tea at the conveniently located Bristol Hotel du Vin. I went along with a group of Bristol bloggers to savour, review and more unusually amongst our group, to paint the afternoon tea – painting food is a new but thoroughly enjoyable departure.

Afternoon tea – the savoury treats

Like all good things its the little details that count and this afternoon tea has been designed to impress. It’s a delicious treat served with style and panache and it delivers on flavour. There is the perfect balance of savoury and sweet choices complemented by specially blended Twinings tea or coffee.

If you want to push the boat out you can go to town with champagne or a wonderful choice of in house gin cocktails.

You can opt for a cream tea priced at £8.50 or go for the big treat afternoon tea at £20. Take your time. You don’t get rushed here. Soak up the ambiance, the candle light and admire the comfortable surroundings and friendly unobtrusive staff who are happy to answer your questions or leave you to enjoy your tea as you wish.

The afternoon tea includes five savoury and five sweet treats presented on a beautiful silver tiered platter finished off with sticks of pale pink candy floss adding a fun flourish to an already mouth watering assortment.

Candles create that special ambiance

Candles create that special ambiance

It was fun drawing the candy floss, not what you automatically expect for afternoon tea but a brilliant finishing touch adding colour and a party feel to the occasion. We were served in a long board room with curved windows, exposed brickwork echoing the building’s past, and furnished in highly polished dark wood and sparkling Venetian mirrors that twinkled in the candlelight creating a relaxed and cosy ambiance.

Arched windows and sparkling mirrors provide a historic setting

Arched windows and sparkling mirrors provide a historic setting

The savoury offerings include Severn and Wye smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel, egg and cress mayonnaise brioche sub, ham with Gruyere cheese croissant, heritage tomato and tapenade galette and  a goats cheese and spinach quiche.

This was followed with warm scones with a mixture of Bonne Maman jams, clotted cream and Lescure butter

The sweet course was a delectable assortment featuring lemon meringue pie, a knickerbocker glory, raspberry and dark chocolate tea cakes and custard donuts. All this finished with home made apple candy floss and a choice of teas.

I visited Hotel du Vin along with 25 Bristol based travel, lifestyle and food bloggers. The hotel hosted the occasion and we were treated to talks from the general manager and hotel tea sommelier who described to us some of the finer points of Twinings tea blends.

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Blogger enjoying the champagne bubbles with Hotel du Vin Afternoon Tea

Nick, COO at Hotel du Vin, “Everyone loves the traditional Afternoon Tea, we believe it is one of the finest meals, a perfect combination of sweet and savoury. We wanted to update this favourite to reflect the increasingly adventurous nature of British consumers that are seeking more unique food pairing experiences. We’re really excited about this offer, bringing together two of 2016s biggest trends, with the quality that Hotel du Vin is known for.”

Hotel du Vin, Bristol, is right in the centre of the city but tucked away into a quiet courtyard setting near the historic and quirky Christmas Steps that leads to Park Row, an interesting street with several contemporary art galleries. The hotel is also within an easy 10 minute walk of the City Museum and Art Gallery, the Royal West of England Academy and the Arnolfini.

The Bristol Hotel du Vin is a peaceful oasis high end in comfort and design, yet an affordable hotel to choose if you are celebrating a special occasion or simply want to treat yourself to some well deserved luxury.

Based in an old sugar refinery the hotel designers have been meticulous in ensuring that some of the unique features of the original building have been retained.

Standard rooms sell anywhere from £115 on a room only basis or £140 inclusive of breakfast for two people and for a special treat the highest standard of suite (such as Veuve Clicquot) sells from £229 on a room only basis or £255 inclusive of breakfast for two people.

Book your stay at Hotel du Vin Bristol

Hotel du Vin Afternoon tea Photo courtesy of Hotel du Vin

Hotel du Vin Afternoon tea
Photo courtesy of Hotel du Vin

Inspired by travel exhibition – Bristol Tobacco Factory

I have a forthcoming solo exhibition entitled ‘Inspired by travel – Paintings by Mary Price’ at the Tobacco Factory cafe and bar starting on Monday 5 September and running for the entire month. I will be sharing and selling work painted during the past year inspired by my travels to Spain and Portugal. Full details see the Tobacco Factory website here

The exhibition will feature a number of larger works on canvas as the space at the Tobacco Factory lends itself well to big paintings which is great for me as I love to paint big.

The show includes a series that reflects my love of wandering  aimlessly around narrow side streets in the cities of Porto, Lisbon, Cadiz, Malaga and Seville as well as some of the pretty towns on the Algarve.

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Cadiz Casa ©Mary Price 2016

The work in the show reflects my fascination with old windows and doors and a series of imaginary buildings that are a mixup of essence of place and memory. I always draw and take lots of photographs when I travel but my paintings are far from representational. Anyone who reads these blog posts will know that I favour an intuitive way of expression.

For me this means building up layers of marks and tonality before imposing imagery that inspires in the moment. I like to begin from a space that is free and easy and to hone detail and subject later in my working process. Sometimes happy accidents on the page where imagery starts to emerge will set me off in one direction, at other times I have a sense of what I am trying to achieve and a notion of the vague direction the painting is heading in.

I tend to go through phases of obsession with different inspirations and the current focus is on fabulous imaginary homes imbued with various symbols that represent place in memory.

if you would like to read more about how travel inspires my work please go to this post on travel memory paintings

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Sevilla Casa ©Mary Price 2016

If you would like to find out more please feel free to contact me via the form below.

Paintings for sale in gallery

Later this month 14 paintings and 4 prints will be available for sale at Tinca Gallery in Portishead near Bristol. This lovely spacious gallery sells paintings by several local artists I admire so it’s great to be in good company.

I can’t say how fantastic it feels to get some validation from a gallery. This is the first time I have shown work in this way. It’s scary but also really affirming. I will be featured as artist of the week when the paintings are on display on the gallery Facebook page very soon.

These are the limited edition giclee prints that will be included for sale.

I will also be offering these in my Etsy shop eventually. Each step takes time and this one has been taking forever but I don’t want to spend too much time glued to the computer. It will be up and running as soon as I can manage and announced here and on social media when ready.

It’s quite a steep learning curve getting work prepared for a gallery – painting the edges of large canvases, mounting little paintings onto MDF boards that need to be primed, emulsioned and sanded and finding out how unsuited IKEA Ribba frames are for showing in galleries. They look nice  and are lovely for home but galleries cannot fix screws into the frame without them disintegrating. But it’s all a learning process so I know this for next time!

Here are three tiny paintings that I finished recently that are a new departure that will be on display.

The gallery has also taken on one of my very large paintings inspired by my recent trip to Cadiz. I’m fascinated by the ornate doorways and weathered textures of Southern European buildings, it’s amazing how you can stumble on really magnificently decorated homes that are often hidden down narrow streets. The fact that these buildings are hidden has not stopped the builders and artisans from festooning them with beautiful tiles, wrought iron work and sculptured facades. This one is called Casa or An Imaginary Home. Like much of my work it draws on travel memory for inspiration interspersed with my own license to explode the colour onto the canvas

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Casa or An Imaginary Home 100 x 100 cms acrylic on canvas

Earlier this month I had another lovely moment – my first Instagram sale that came about as a result of a 100 day project challenge that I’m currently doing to try to hone watercolour painting skills. Watercolour is a medium that I love the look of but find difficult so I’ve been trying to get better at it.

Instagram is where I post progress images and finished work very regularly so do feel free to follow – I’m @artistintheshed surprise, surprise!

Here is the little painting. Just a bit of fun really.

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I will keep you updated with the date that the work goes up in the gallery. Thank you for reading.

Cactus and carnival inspiration

Tenerife is an island of fantastic beauty, a hard black landscape sculpted by massive volcanic lava eruptions, where prickly cacti grow with so many triffid like variations in weed like abundance.

This week I took photographs of the riot of colour at the Los Gigantes carnival and made a series of quick sketches of cacti.

Here are a few drawings and photos capturing some inspirations together with a painting made at a little studio in the main square at Los Gigantes.

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Cactus celebration – acrylic on canvas

 

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Travel inspiration

 

Travelling has always inspired. I’m drawn to warmer climates where palm trees grow, where people live outside even in January, where washing lines are strung from rooftop terraces and across windows and where you can lose yourself in narrow paved and cobbled lanes.

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Still life

I love the unsung towns and villages away from the brochure land publicity glare, places that welcome and smile without pandering, places that have developed a patina, a glow and a confidence that rubs along with modern life.

Portugal does it for me. The best fish and fruity smooth wines from the Alentejo and the Douro. Little bars where people snack on dressed crab and piles of prawns that price would forbid at home can be had here.

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Places that reveal still life potential at every corner, tiny details in pastel peeling layers of weather ravaged homes, glimpses of past lives close up with the here and now.

Wide open spaces with water wading birds pecking at sandbanks and sometimes flying in formation dipping, diving, soaring, squawking.

Places that know how to stand still and revel in it. Places where it is fine to just be and do nothing, places that act like a massage for the soul.

I rarely paint in situ preferring to lap up the sense of place by walking, looking, taking photographs, making speed drawings and absorbing atmosphere.

This makes for better memories and thus better source material as each memory can be represented in essence rather than accuracy.

I find this a freeing mode of expression that compliments my intuitive style of working. It’s all about atmosphere, symbols, colour, letting go of knowing how it will all turn out but having a faith in the mind’s ability to remember.