Wednesday, 6 March 2019


Louise Donovan is already producing work for her 2020 exhibition at the Crypt Gallery here in St Ives. Being Louise's partner and husband means I have the advantage of a preview as each piece of creative art is designed and quilted. Trust me, this forthcoming exhibition will be as extraordinary as Louise's first exhibition in 2018. And this post gives me the opportunity to remind those who saw that show how good it was - and to bring those who did not more fully into the loop.

Here is the video that Facebook created and presented to me, using a selection of images produced by Leo and Larisa Walker, our very talented photographers. A number of these images are art works themselves as I hope you will see as you watch. Leo is the son of Roy Walker ( ),  one of the significant St Ives' artists of his generation. Leo's mum is Peggie Walker - she was one of our guests, the lady in the wonderful red hat. Our other friends included Tracey and Tim Rump from Norwich, hair-stylist and her printer husband both Norwich City supporters like Louise; Julia Bush, Quaker and former dean of the University of Northampton; Caroline and Tony Wilson, Louise's sister and husband - both lawyers; Stephen Vranch, now secretary of the St Ives branch of the Labour Party following a distinguished career in chemical engineering; Clare Lynch, my brilliant saxophone tutor; Steve and Jo McIntosh, my talented St Ives web-designer and his wife, gifted textile artist and teacher, and Keith and Sally Adams from Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire, retired accountant and his wife, parents of three extraordinary daughters - we were so blessed to have such good people travel such distances and gather together to celebrate Louise's talent and artwork.   

And below is the video I created later using Leo and Larisa's images and some additional material as icing on the cake. There are a couple of shots of Louise taken when we were on the Greek island of

Patmos and visiting the monastery at Hora - two of the exhibits in the show are 'Hora by Day' and 'Hora by Night'. I hope you enjoy this one too. 

I thought some extracts from the personal story that we produced to accompany the exhibition might be appreciated. Here is a section from Louise's story about what happened after contact with St Ives in Cornwall:

'The next impact on my textiles came after a visit to St Ives in 2008 as we holidayed in Cornwall. I walked past the School of Painting and in one of those spontaneous moments that can change a life decided it would be good to take myself out of my comfort zone. I signed up for one of the Art courses later that year. Me – the child who couldn’t draw had grown up to enrol in an art class! And so, I returned to Cornwall and St Ives and had the privilege of being taught by Roy Ray. I have no memory of what I was doing in the class on that day but what he said was the second transforming event in my journey. He looked at my art work and said: ‘You are thinking too much’. I understood straightaway. He also asked me what I wanted from the course and I told him about my quilts and how I wanted to move what I did forward. He said he could see that in what I had been doing in my art - and then all his feedback was directed towards this end.

After my return to East Anglia, I gave further thought to how I could act on my need to be freer in my work. One idea came. I would find some breaking news story with coverage that would last all day and just see what my response would be. And the day arrived – March 26th, 2011 – the March for the Alternative in London. I placed a large black plastic bag of scraps from quilts I had made over many years beside me and sat at the table with the television in view, tuned to live coverage of the March in London. Between 10am and 4 pm, I just cut out and sewed together without any plan, just by instinct for the first time in my life. Roy Ray’s guidance was active. I was creating my first piece of abstract textile art. This piece means a great deal to me. It contains so many memories from previous quilts. And many of my friends who had been on the March have all picked out places where they were turned back, then ‘kettled’ - and where they ended up having a party in Hyde Park. 

March for the Alternative - Louise Donovan (2011)

I exhibited the ‘March for the Alternative’ at the annual National Quilting Exhibition in the NEC in Birmingham in 2012 – my first entry there. Two years later – and by now we were

living in St Ives - I exhibited there again. This time it was an abstract piece of textile art called ‘Guantanamo’. It won the Judges’ Choice Award. To my joy, when I returned to make sure that I had not dreamt the award, a steward who I knew worked in a traditional way was looking at it closely. As she noticed me, she apologised for blocking my view. I explained it was my quilt. She responded: “How did you produce this? I can see all those photos of Guantanamo in it.” I was overjoyed – and even more so when a couple of years later Jo McIntosh, my textile artist friend and neighbour found other great comments online and told me.'

Guantanamo - Louise Donovan (2014)

Here is the title page of the catalogue we produced for the exhibition.

Title page from Crypt Gallery exhibition catalogue

The catalogue runs to 30 pages and the personal story has 14 pages. Both are available to buy through Louise's website at They provide a worthwhile read and introduction to an artist who is set to have a flourishing future.    


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