All About Heart

At the start of May, I hosted a gathering of female creatives at Pip Farm, a picturesque farmhouse deep in the stunning Devonshire countryside. Much as I love social media, I feel nothing compares to establishing real life connections, and I always like to meet people in the flesh. To me, having a connection online compared to knowing someone in person is like the difference between a burgeoning bud and a flower in full bloom.

I was very instinctive about the instagrammers I invited, and I simply chose accounts I loved. The women I asked all had a magic touch to the way they portrayed themselves online and their common love for flowers shone through their work. I felt intuitively that everyone would get on, and that it would be a brilliant way to forge fresh friendships and creative connections. As well as establishing friendships, I wanted to introduce my guests to my new Linen Meadow Collection, which celebrates spring and new beginnings. I filled Pip Farm with some of my latest artwork, cushions and lampshades, which I felt all worked well within the contemporary interior decor of the farmhouse. It had been important to me to find a setting that would be the perfect backdrop for my new artwork. Much as I love my own home, it’s too small to host several people, and Pip Farm turned out to be the ideal place. I was delighted that it had its own organic garden, and that there are plans to create a wild flower meadow. I wanted fresh flowers in the farmhouse, and the lovely Holly of Holly-Bee Flowers arranged spring posies in every room, so the place was bursting with colour and beauty. My Mum helped me tie little bunches of wildflowers to leave on every guest’s pillow, and I wrote a personal thank you note, cut into a heart, to accompany the flowers. I did a similar thing for my wedding, and I wanted each guest to know how much I appreciated their company.

Pip Farm

Image of Pip Farm by Janne Ford

We had the farmhouse to ourselves for two days, and from the beginning a kind of enchantment pervaded the atmosphere. The sun shone, the blossom hung heavy from the crab apple trees, and everyone seemed to fall under the spell of the beauty of the surrounding countryside. Every mealtime, the large kitchen table groaned under the delicious platters of food that the fantastic chef, Djamila Vogelsperger, had prepared. One of my favourite memories from the time was sitting outside with everyone, sipping gin fizz cocktails and pink prosecco as the sun set before heading in for a delicious supper. There was a real spirit of conviviality amongst everyone present, making for an unforgettable evening.

Image by Mirandas Notebook

My love and respect for nature imbues all my work, and it was important to me to show my guests where I painted and some of the landscape that inspires me. One afternoon, we drove to my studio in the heart of the countryside just outside Totnes. I showed everyone around my paint-splattered studio, where I weave the magic into my paintings. It was a glorious afternoon: wonderfully sunny and warm, and we had a cream tea in the garden outside, admiring the lush green hillsides around us.

I also invited everyone to see my home and gallery in Totnes. There is a wonderful sense of community in Totnes, and the area draws such an inspiring mix of deeply creative people. This atmosphere of creative abundance finds its way into my artwork, and it was a true joy to show my hometown to everyone who had travelled from afar.

Image on the left: Humphrey & Grace

For me, this gathering was all about heart, from the handwritten letters I left on everyone’s pillows, to the passion that was poured into every meal served up by Djamila. I’ll never forget those two days, which I felt were infused with love: a love for flowers, for creativity, for art and for friendship. It was everything I had dreamt of, and I’m looking forward to continuing to harbour and develop my connections with the women I met. I’m excited to host another similar event next year!

Video by Jack at Solve Web Media

Let me introduce to these amazing women

Julia Smith (Humphrey & Grace)

Julia lives in East Sussex and is a self-taught photographer specialising in providing brands with Instagram e-courses and workshops for those who wish to improve their social media prowess and photography skills. With a huge following on her own Instagram, Julia’s images inspire her followers with their simplicity, beauty and style. We connected with Julia because I really admire the way she captures the simplicity in every moment, and her eye for beautiful natural wildscapes and sumptuous florals. Her whimsical website is a treasure trove of creative inspiration, practical photography and social media advice and inspiring conversations.

Julia Smith- Humphrey & Grace

Exquisite Styling by Julia Smith

Bex Partridge (Botanical Tales)

Lovely Bex is a floral artist who runs botanical workshops and makes exquisite art from dried preserved flowers (most of which she grows herself). Her floral art, exquisite styling and beautiful photography have earned her a devoted following and her floral wreaths, crowns and design style are in hot demand. Bex believes that no manmade object can ever be as beautiful as the colours you find in nature, and I must say that this is something which I agree with whole-heartedly. Bex also made the most beautiful mini wreaths for the goodie bags, thank you Bex!

Bex Partrdige, Botanical Tales

Bex Partrdige, Botanical Tales

Holly Bee (Holly-Bee Flowers)

Holly has a flower garden and floral design studio based in nearby Dartington. She brought along several hand-grown hand-tied bunches to dress every room in Pip Farm and we were blown away with their beauty! Natural beauty is at the heart of what she does; growing most of her own flowers and foliage in her quintessentially English country garden. All the fresh flowers Holly grows are hand-picked and heady with fragrance offering something that little bit different. I adore her old fashioned scented roses, winding honeysuckle tendrils and wild grasses – she recreates hedgerows mixed with luxury, nostalgic garden flowers with a bit of a wild side…just my cup of tea.  

Holly Bee Flowers Devon

Holly Bee Flowers

Janne Ford (Jannel Ford)

Janne is a photographer and stylist who uses natural light, composition and colour to create the emotive floral imagery of my dreams. Talented Janne also runs classes, workshops and one-to-one mentoring sessions for Instagram and visual media. This fabulous visual storyteller specialises in styled product photography, themed photo shoots and collaborations for creative businesses and it was an honour to have her come along to our creative event.

janne ford floral photographer and stylist

Beautiful styling and photography by Janne Ford

Miranda Mills (Miranda’s Notebook)

Miranda is a talented photographer and lifestyle blogger who has also created her own podcast (Tea & Tattle) which celebrates female friendship and creativity via her interviews with successful women such as best-selling novelists, artists, entrepreneurs, chefs and musicians. Self-confessed bookworm Miranda also runs her own book club and relishes nothing more than settling down with a gripping novel, slice of cake and a cup of tea. MIranda has a love of flowers and the English countryside so was perfectly home at Pip Farm surrounded by the floral displays and creative conversations at my Instagram gathering.

Miranda Mills- Miranda's Notebook

Lulu (A Cup Full of Dreams)

Lulu is a photographer, style lover and parent blogger who founded a creative gathering initiative of her own called The Clover Shed. She is a champion blouse wearer too! Her Instagram feed is a natural feed filled with all the little joys in life such as bluebell hunting with her beautiful children running free and wild woodland adventures. Lulu brought with her a special sparkle and creativity which fizzed around the room and she inspired me with her passion for pretty.

a creative gathering- lulu from a cupful of dreams

Lucy Heath (Capture by Lucy)

Lucy started her multi-award winning lifestyle blog in 2012, specialising in photography and creating beautiful photography backdrops which are used by  photographers, videographers, bloggers, Instagrammers, digital agencies, crafters, creatives, makers & more. Her curated collection of stories and images feature home interiors, holidays, recipe and craft ideas and inspiration, whilst her backdrops are loved by Cosmopolitan, Good HouseKeeping, BBC Good Food magazines, amongst others. Lucy recently went to France to photograph decaying walls with amazing colours for backdrops, she has such imagination! I can’t wait to see this new collection of photography backdrops and would love to use them on my own creative photo shoots in the future.

Djamila Vogelsperger (Fresh Feasts)

My dear dear friend Djamila treated us to a whole weekend of truly delicious feasts. Djamila is a master in the kitchen, creating fresh & wild food which is locally sourced, organic and celebrating her deep love for nature and sustainability. I can’t thank you more for your support, love and talent-  thank you Djamila.

Djamila Fresh Feasts - A Creative Gathering

Jack from Solve Web Media capturing Djamila’s Fresh Feasts

All of these inspirational and incredible women were brought together in a creative gathering through our mutual love of art and flowers. It was a truly inspirational and wonderfully enriching weekend and I hope that each of the women who joined us gained as much from it as I did.

Thank you  to each and every one of them for their part in what I hope is just the start of a wonderful creative journey together!