My daughter Isabel Ashdown is making preparations for the launch of her third novel.  Following the success of Glasshopper and Hurry and Wait her latest book will be called Summer of 76.

Go to her website for further detail and up to date information



MAY 3rd – 22nd 2013   Exhibition


Three members of the HWAT group are holding a joint exhibition

David Page

Jilly Swaybo

Dom Theobold

HALESWORTH GALLERY, Steeple End, Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 8LL.  Tel:01986 873064

(formerly know as Steeple End Gallery)

Open Mondays to Saturdays 11-5 & Sundays 2-5


A collection of recent work by the three artists working in East Anglia.


Halesworth Gallery. David Page’s room.


Dom Theobold’s Gallery area.


Print by Dom Theobold


Gilly Swyabo’s room.


Spring clean invite

Ken Skipper is holding the annual ‘Spring Clean’ exhibition of work by his gallery artists to which anyone is welcome. This is an opportunity for artists to show work for sale at affordable prices and bargains may be found! I shall be showing some work in this exhibition.

Kingfisher Trail tabard copy


Preparation for the 2014 HWAT are under way and it will be running for three weekends –

July 20/21, July 27/28 and Aug 3/4

I shall be on sabbatical along with my husband, David Page as we both have commitments around that time with other events.

Anyone wishing to apply for memberships for HWAT 2014 can find details on the

Harleston & Waveney Art Trail website –

Information about the Trail and the artist’s are on it’s website –  

Brochures are distributed throughout the Waveney Valley area each year 0r can be downloaded from the website.



After Christmas when my studio was freezing and the light was low I took the opportunity to start making a batch of Rag Dolls. Having always loved to make toys and soft sculptures I used to make these for my two daughters Issy and Becky (and a boy version for Dominic) and lost the patterns about 25 years ago when moving house. One doll had survived and I used this to help me to remake the patterns, although I made it to my own updated design. Shopping for a range of dress fabric prints was a great indulgence. Having studied textile design I’ve always had an eye open for a good fabric! The doll design is still evolving and I’m working on a Hare Doll too at the moment.

Below you can see some of the collection so far –

A selection of my 1970’s style ‘Holly Hobby dolls
Each doll is different.
Detail of doll’s head







Thursday 18th-Wednesday 24th October 2012

October in Aldeburgh – sitting on Maggie Hambling’s Shell – It’s amazing!

This exhibition was held for one week in Aldeburgh.

Gill and I have known each other for twenty years and are both members of the Harleston & Waveney Art Trail (  Gill is well know in East Anglia for, among other subjects, her powerful paintings of the aftermath of the fire which struck the West Pier at Brighton.  She trained at Chelsea and has devoted much of her life to both painting and the teaching and performance of Jazz.

At the famous ‘Jazz Barn’ at Needham, where Gill lives, she has hosted and played the double bass in hundreds of wonderful Jazz concerts for over thirty years.  These have featured some of the countries most famous jazz musicians and singers.  Gill has painted throughout her life and her work is in many private collections.

Events in 2012

Harleston & Waveney Art Trail will be taking place this year but I shall be on sabbatical along with my husband, David Page

For more information about the Trail and it’s artists and to download a brochure go to  Brochures are distributed throughout the Waveney Valley area each year.

Preparations for the Trail 2013 are under way.

Anyone wishing to apply for memberships for 2014 can find details on the Harleston & Waveney Art Trail website –

More information about this can be found on website.



Two new paintings completed before the end 2011

I spent the first half of this year working on and off at a portrait of Isabel Ashdown, my daughter.  I was prompted to do this painting to celebrate the publication of her second novel, Hurry Up and Wait, which was launched in May 2011 at Waterstone’s in Chichester and also in Germany later in the year.  It also celebrates her 40th year.  This is the painting’s first showing –

Issy,Black Wall & & Fig Tree, oil on canvas 65 x 100 cms

The pose I chose derived  from a family  photograph taken, I think, in 1980 by a photographer friend, Derek Drage, whilst we were on holiday in France.  We were visiting his family in Sarlat for the day, which was close to Monpazier in the Dordogne, where we spent a month that summer.

Issy in France 1980

Another painting just finished is Portrait of a Friesian.  It’s showing in an exhibition which is on until Christmas at the Cork Brick Gallery, Bungay .  It is the latest piece in the ‘Through the Hedge” series which has been ongoing since the mid 1990’s.

Portrait of a Friesian, oil on canvas, 60 x 40 cms

This recent painting above, is a new version of a large one I did previously. I’ve made a single portrait of one of the cattle featured in the earlier study (Friesians in the Ditch Over the Hedge).  I wanted to hone in to a small area of the larger picture as I felt it would work well if I just focussed on the one cow.


I was invited along with six other East Anglian artists, to show 15 paintings  at an exhibition and sale of work at Barton Grange in Suffolk this November.  The event was to raise money for the churches of two small Suffolk villages and was held over two private view evenings and open one Saturday all day to members of the public.  It was very successful,well attended and attracted many visitors.  Maggie Hambling was one of the six invite artists and some of her wave painting were on view.

Jane with her work at Barton Grange


We recently had our 7th HWAT Christmas Party at Gill Levin’s ‘Jazz’ barn. About 24 artists were there and we each donated dishes of food for a festive buffet.  These occasions are always a success and a tribute to the artists who have all worked at making the Art Trail a great success over the past 7 years.  We will be meeting in January to plan the Trail for 2012.

I have been a member of the HWAT since it was founded in 2005. (

Background of HWAT

In 2004, four artists, Noelle Francis, Diane McKenna, David Page and me decided we’d like to set up a small annual open studio event run co-operatively by professional artists in our area of the Waveney Valley. We were all agreed that a small, personally run annual event would meet our needs far better than the very large Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios.

We all felt disillusioned with the large county event having previously had few visitors to our studios during the event and hardly any sales. At that time with over 300 artists, professional or non-trained, taking part throughout the county, and with the membership costing £90, we felt it was too large and widespread to be of benefit us.

With enormous help and encouragement from Caryl Challis, also an artist and in whose Cafe Gallery in Harleston our discussions took place, we worked on making the idea a reality.

(for more details and information about the HWAT go to

March Exhibition – 2011  


In March David Page organised an exhibition called ‘Have I Got Nudes For You’ at the Harleston Gallery.  Selected artists were asked to submit paintings, drawings etc of nudes for this collective exhibition.  (See David Page’s blog for more information and the background to this show.)

My contribution to the exhibition was to show a painting which I had recently undertaken to paint as a commission for a close friend, Penny.  (I do not paint on commission normally, but this was a long-standing promise and, I must admit, quite a challenge!)

Penny With Pink & Purple Highlights, oil on canvas, 74 x 54 cms, NFS

Penny had taught at Long Stratton High School for 21 years and I’d become friendly with her whilst I was there teaching art.  After being very inspired by seeing the Nudes exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum a few years back, Penny had long been saying she would love to be painted in the nude and to have the painting to celebrate her retirement after 45 years in teaching.

I don’t take commissions but suddenly when Penny made the decision to retire this April I had to spring into action to help her to fulfil her ambition.  We had a number of sittings to achieve the final result.  For me it was quite a challenge as I haven’t been doing life-drawing for a while and had to get back into practise.  It took me a few months working on and off but I managed to meet the deadline which was Penny’s retirement party.

New report on Penny Wilson-Downe’s retirement



Once again this year I attended and  helped to organised a workshop for the Annual Guardian Big Draw in London.  This year was it’s 10th Anniversary and David Page and I have been involved in it since it first started.

Parents apply for tickets which are advertised in the Guardian Newspaper and the lucky ones accompany their children to King’s Place, the Guardian headquarters, for one of the two hour workshops and lectures.

The annual event began as the Guardian Newspaper’s contribution to National Big Draw Week in 2001 and is run by their Education Department. David Page and I were first invited to take part by David Austin, a close friend and pocket cartoonist for the Guardian. Most of the artists work for the Guardian as cartoonists,etc, but guests and celebrities also offer to help when they are available; these have included Zandra Rhodes and Andrew Logan and several well-known book illustrators such as Carolyn Holden and Sally Kindberg. This adds an extra dimension to the whole event. Also lectures take place and this year Posy Simmonds, Steven Appleby and several others gave talks which were enjoyed by everyone. Most years Steve Bell has had everyone gleefully amused by his wit, genius and ‘large’ personality.

Over the years we’ve both done a variety of projects but this year was probably one of the best. We collaborated to do mono-printing which was very popular, full on and produced some lovely results. Over 50 children took home a professional-looking monoprint mounted and ready to frame!


The Guardian Big Draw 2011

The Ashdown-Petrie family at Big Draw 2011(My daughter Becky on the left)

Mono-printing at this year’s Guardian Big Draw, 8/10/2011

Young artist at Guardian Big Draw 2011

Print & inked glass plate. This illustrates the simplicity of monoprinting. Water based printing ink is rolled on a sheet of glass or perspex, a sheet of paper is placed on the inked plate onto which you draw. (Below – the proud artist)