“Is it really that time again? It doesn't seem like a year since you were round last!”
Well, yessiree, it is- we've travelled in the rain from Roscoff to Plymouth, and through the drizzle heading North to the market town of Clitheroe, Lancashire, where we'll brighten shop windows with our jolly and festive paintings.
We have the luxury of a house in the town this year which means we can walk to work and get home in the light if we finish early enough. We can see the castle from our street, and there's a fish and chip shop on the corner- such a novelty for the exiled Brit- and a particular delight to Mr. Price! We haven't actually had any as yet, but it's just the knowing that it's there.
I was almost happy, too, to be woken up in the early hours by a milkman making his deliveries. And I've seen a coalman. Small but important pleasures!
While we're here I have paintings to deliver to the Colin Jellicoe Gallery in Manchester and the Calder Gallery in Hebden Bridge. The latter is a new one to me, and I've enjoyed depicting a different landscape. The Calder Valley area of Yorkshire is so full of contrasts- high, bleak moorlands stand over the old factory and mill towns in their deep, lush valleys.
Last week I was in Salford to sign up for an exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery. The room where I'll be is enormous and I felt very small... probably because I'm very small! But filling the space with my work will be a wonderful opportunity for my own development as an artist..I can only improve!
In the meantime it's out with the red paint for berries, reindeer noses and Santa, and the green for trees and decking the halls with holly. The red red robin bobs along to the Estate Agents; a mother lays her baby in a barber's window; the Three Kings traverse afar by field and fountain, moor and mountain, and call for refreshments at Molly's café on Moor Lane.
With a smile on our faces and a Ho-ho-ho, we're ringing in the new and the true... yes, already!
Nativity.. Alastair Price