Ping pong in the evening under the huge cork oak, French Med. July 2008.
mixed media 57 x 62cm. POA

I spent part of that summer in the Massive de Maures – the hills of the French Mediterranean where the cork oaks grow – the forests here carpet the rolling landscape with a unique ecosystem. Managed by the hand of man for centuries, by harvesting the bark for the cork a symbiotic relationship has evolved between man and the tree and the resulting diversity of the region’s fauna and flora is legendary.

I would work through the intense heat of the day – Mediterranean extremes, trying to paint this place and the grand old maiden oaks with their knobbly corky barks, their huge branches reaching up to blue skies full of bee eaters and hoopoes, woodpeckers and gliding pasha butterflies. And then sullied by the heat and dust I would return down to the coast – to the breezes of the ocean and the shade of the garden. Here a truly enormous cork oak shaded the house, leaning out and over the garden where a table tennis table had been placed beneath. A charming French setting where my family, each evening pursued championships and rallies of ping-pong in the dappled light and I sat and painted them.