For our first ‘Diary Of’ feature, we are thrilled to share these wonderful diary entries by our artist Rebecca Sammon, who embarked on a week-long residency in the Cotswolds cottage ‘This House’ with her newborn baby Connie-Jean in tow.
Through these honest notes, Rebecca takes us along on the journey to reconnect with making art after becoming a mother. Here we invite you to witness the emotional and exciting creative process behind her latest collection, 'A Residency - This House'.
Day 1 - Thursday 3rd Feb
Arrived at This House for a week-long residency with my daughter Connie-Jean in tow. This sparks a creative restart following my three-month maternity leave, I’m ready to dive back in to start making new work.
We will be here for a week in Amberley, a beautiful Cotswolds village in a perfect cottage and a studio room to work in. Spent the afternoon getting set up and scouring the cottage books for inspiration by the fireside.
Day 2- Friday 4th Feb
Planning to explore new ideas here and experiment with new materials. It feels like the right time to try something new. My working pattern is fragmented - broken up between feeds and baby TLC. It’s hard to hit the ground running especially after a break and when starting again from scratch after a huge life change.
I always used to leave a piece with a small part unfinished so I know the next day what to get started with. This time I have nothing. A true restart and regroup. Loose sketches forming - rusty as hell from three months off and running on minimal sleep (baby hates travel cots) - time here is precious - just make it count.
Day 3 - Saturday 5th Feb
Wake, feed baby, go to the room to paint. Ploughing through ideas that have been brimming overnight feeds in the last few weeks - hopefully at some stage I will stumble across something that starts to stick. Went for a walk on the common with Connie-Jean, the area is beautiful and atmospheric. The wind is howling and super strong today, everything is moving, wild and misty.
I feel inspired by the strength of the landscape here and the feeling of history running through it - the colours of the village are cool, strong, earthy, and grounding - plan to refine my experimental palette to bring more muted tones. I want to add imagined figures that could fit the scene I'm seeing - ghosts of the women that once walked the commons as I now do. Battle the walk again at night time to help baby sleep - trees bending with the force of the wind.
Day 4 - Sunday 6th Feb
Fresh start. The light in the cottage is beautiful so I spend the morning working on the kitchen table, It reminds me of when I started - working every day on a new desk in Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, etc.
Struggling through the work, today it’s clunky, and can’t find a way to resolve it. Keep going - have to remind myself that the purpose of this residency is to reconnect with making work alongside my new role taking care of Connie-Jean.
Moving from the studio room to the kitchen table did not help and after some precious time spent relocating - in the afternoon I'm back in the studio. Paint in the evening when babe eventually decides to sleep. Decide to listen to some music - beloved Joni Mitchell helps me to relax - realise I'm super tense - clenching - trying to make sure that I do ‘good’ work in the new time slots I have - I need to breathe better to ease back into this. Start making very loose marks with the paint, watery, thin and it feels good.
Day 5 - Monday 7th Feb
Meet with Katie who owns the cottage and runs the residency, we talked about the process of creating work and the commitment this takes. It feels like there are parallels with having a newborn baby and creating artwork, consistency, repetition, just being there and working at it - pouring everything you have into it.
We walk around the common, through the beautiful graveyard, and talked about the huge redwood trees there. It’s beautiful. We take some pictures of ideas I worked on so far. In baby’s afternoon nap time I drink coffee and go and draw redwood trees and imagined figures that could have walked the windy common here. Start to enjoy making the work, the studies start to make a little more sense.
Day 6 - Tuesday 8th Feb
Excited. Feeling like I can go to the studio room and start to focus now. Enjoying making work again, very grateful for the opportunity and for the chance to be here. when I applied the panel at the residency knew I was a new mother and gave me a chance to be here with my new baby- so thankful -Connie-Jean sat cooing on the bed while I worked.
Later on, attempting painting with the baby in the carrier and figured the loose brushstrokes that can just about manage with babe in arms. The work feels different, looser, a little fractured, and not quite as finished as it was before the baby arrived. Drinks tonight at the village pub The Black Horse.
Day 7 - Wednesday 9th Feb
Last day to focus on making work - painted ‘The Black Horse’, the space and surroundings have been such a great reset. I felt nervous to veer too far away from my usual work but finding a stride with this. Running on a new track and seeing what happens. Finding new freedom in using paint and exploring new materials again and it feels right for me just now. Take a soak in the amazing bath under the mural - going to miss this place.