A Space of One’s Own: Saskia

‘I have lived in this house for 29 years, and 7 years ago I started painting the walls of my dining room. My room became my canvas and continues to be a space that I work and draw in. It’s a place where I surround myself with design ideas and references gathered at exhibitions. It is my main route through the house so I am continually looking at these visual pointers as I travel through the dining room to the kitchen. My eye is often caught by something that then sparks off a thought or idea. 

I first painted the copy of the Fred Millet Winter mural on the large empty wall. This came about as I had been given a commission to recreate the mural in St Crispin’s school in Wokingham. Never having painted something as large as this before I decided I needed to practise before painting the real thing. This dining room wall was the only space large enough and it became my practise canvas. 

Subsequently the figure of Synagoga appeared on the wall that one sees on entering the house through the front door. This project was delayed due to a listed building issue and I had the cartoon attached to that wall for 3 months. Every time I entered the house I would see the drawing of Synagoga and it then seemed an obvious place to paint my practice piece. The gilding in the painting catches the light brilliantly. 

It is really interesting to see how a wall painting works in a room and can expand the space. I love the contrast in the styles of the paintings (Fred Millett 1953, Synagoga 1876) and the fact that they fit together well. I also have great memories of these projects. Judy Millet, Fred Millet’s widow visited me at home to see the painting. As we sat and chatted over a cup of tea Judy said that she could remember the landscape from many walks that she went on with Fred in the Chilterns. 

Of course once one has paintings on two walls then the other ones start to look rather bare. I have added a couple of my own paintings to sit with the two murals and have a number of ideas for creating new pieces on other blank walls. 

I collect local artists paintings and ceramics and have a number of these dotted around this room. I have started a wall of postcards of artists from exhibitions I have been to and will eventually cover the whole of the wall space. I love images of artists at work or in their studios. Studios are such interesting spaces and it is always a pleasure and privilege to be allowed in. 

My mantlepiece is an ever growing collection of cards from different exhibitions, layer upon layer and occasionally I remove them all and start again displaying more from current exhibitions. It is always interesting to see how many cards have built up over the years. 

I like to be continually seeing different things coming into my line of sight and it seems a natural thing for me to fill all empty space with decoration. Apart from the ceiling, I think I would need to have run out of all space before doing any backbreaking work on the ceiling.’