The beauty of South Gloucestershire’s countryside and villages shines from much of Lorna Page’s exquisitely detailed art. I met her at her family’s organic beef farm at Shepperdine to talk about the paintings of local castles, cottages and churches for which she is known, and also an exciting new project.
I asked her first whether she thinks of herself as a folk artist. “I’m not just that, I do everything, but folk art seems to be what people like most. I think it’s because they can relate to the places, they’ve got a memory there. It’s like recorded history really.”
A recent painting is typical of the attention to detail in Lorna’s work. It was painted for a charity auction and shows the village of Ham, including The Salutation pub and a dozen houses and cottages. The picture is full of country life; horse riders, a tractor, someone attending to their garden, a line of washing, children and dogs. In the distance are pale yellow fields and swallows fly above the scene. Between the houses flowers bloom.
The flowers are important to Lorna, as floristy has long been a big part of her life. After a childhood holiday staying at a cottage belonging to a florist and watching her work on her flowers, Lorna set her heart on this as a career. She trained locally and at 19, with the aid of a Prince’s Trust grant, set up her own floristry business in Thornbury.
Eventually she decided to take up painting more seriously and discontinued the shop, although she still works regularly for her sister’s wedding flower business. And it is floristy that has provided the inspiration for Flora, the children’s television character she has created.
Flora’s World is to be a new television programme set in the fictitious small market town of Oakbury Bottom. The scenes will look slightly familiar to locals, taking their inspiration from Thornbury, Oldbury, Shepperdine, Hill and Berkeley. As a country girl, Lorna has also included her love of nature, the environment, conservation and also growing flowers, for Flora’s character is a florist. “Flora is quite feisty, and I think it’s nice for the girls to have someone to aspire to be like when they grow up.”
Lorna and BAFTA award-winning writer Bob Baker are working hard to launch the first Flora’s World book in time for this year’s Severn Vale Art Trail. Bob has impeccable writing credentials, having written for three Wallace & Gromit films, including the Oscar-winning The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and countless television programmes including Dr Who. He is also well known for being the creator of K9. His ability to perfectly capture the subtleties of each character as well as adding humour promises to make Flora’s World a winner.
Both Lorna and Bob will be exhibiting at Oldbury Memorial Hall as part of the Severn Vale Art Trail over the weekend of 30 April and 1 May. Lorna’s paintings can also be seen on her website www.lornapage.format.com and on Facebook under Lorna Page Art and Flora’s World TV Programme.