This summer will see the second Plein Air Art Festival to be held in Wexford on Ireland’s south east coast under the title of ‘Art in the Open.’ It will take place over the August bank holiday weekend from Friday 31st July to Sunday 2nd August followed by an exhibition on the 3rd and 4th August. It is the brainchild of Tony Robinson of the Pigyard Gallery together with a committed group of painters from the Wexford area and last years event was a huge success attracting painters not only from all over Ireland but other parts of the world. This year’s festival promises to be another great success with several other art events taking place and an exhibition of all work completed during the weekend. For further information click on:

Above: Duncannon from the headland, Co. Wexford from Tom's Ireland sketchbook.
Post Published by Tom King 19th June 09

WALTER CRANE - A Masque of Days

I think it must have been around 1988, my wife and I were in London wandering through Burlington Arcade when I my eye was caught by a book in the window of a bookshop. It was one of those impulse moments and a few minutes later I had made an expensive purchase. The book was a first edition copy of A Masque of Days illustrated by Walter Crane and published by Cassell in1902. Inside is pencilled a name I cannot decipher but the hand written date is quite clear – July 09. That means as I write the inscription will be one hundred years old in two weeks and the book has been in my possession for approximately twenty one years but that is about to change.

Walter Crane, born Liverpool 1845 – 1915, was an illustrator of children’s books, a painter, interior designer, wallpaper and textile designer, ceramic designer, graphic designer and socialist. In his lifetime his work was collected in Germany and America, he was decorated by governments in Italy and Hungary and regarded as a major influence on the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. He was a founding member of the Art Workers Guild, a part-time director of design at the Manchester School of Art and in 1898 was appointed Principal of Royal College of Art.

A Masque of Days contains forty of his illustrations printed on one side of the paper only with French folds. Crane also designed the end-papers. The book is now about to be passed on to my daughter in Australia who has developed a passion for children’s illustrated books to add to her collection. I decided before it leaves my hands to copy a few of the pages and share them on this blog.

Post Published by Tom King 18th June 09


This shelf unit sits on my desk and has become an eclectic mix of the paraphernalia of my working day, together with some of the things I like to have around me.

The driftwood on the top was found by my wife on the river Aveyron and looks like a prehistoric bird. The top shelf contains cards from left to right: Mary Grow, a friend and author, who works for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Wisconsin, America; Angie Lewin card from my daughter in Australia, and a detail from one of my Fantasia paintings. The tile was bought from a brocante in France and is by Longwy, a pottery founded at the end of the 17th Century in a Carmelite convent in the Meurthe et Moselle region of France. The brass letter ‘K’ was purchased from a vide grenier (attic sale) for 1 euro.

Second shelf left to right: A card from a design by Charles Rennie Macintosh - I was privileged to work in one of his buildings in the 1960’s and have been a fan ever since. A card by Mary Fedden R.A.,a photograph taken at my first exhibition in Wexford, Ireland with myself, my cousin Jim Doolan (also a painter) and Tony Robinson, a director of the gallery who has recently established the Wexford Plein Air Festival. The last card is by Matisse, The Pink Nude. Behind is a small part of the 200 CD’s I have containing images of my paintings and designs.

The third shelf contains some of my own cards and designs together with a card of a Norfolk Turkey, a grey stone from Greystones, to remind me of many happy trips to the seaside as a child in Dublin, and a tea caddy purchased from another vide grenier for 1 euro. Behind the old tea caddy is a card by Jean-Marc Richel, artist, one of the first friends I made in France and now living in America.

The bottom shelf contains amongst other things - one of my pochette designs, an invitation to The Ulster Watercolour Society and a card by Maija Isola.
Posted by Tom King 1st June 09