Sitting With Jane, Basingstoke. Summer 2017.
I'm so pleased to announce that my Golden Peacock bench raised £7000 at a charity auction on Friday 15 September - the joint highest sale of the night.
On the night, the Sitting With Jane auction raised a staggering £95,700, with 75% of that going towards the Ark Cancer Centre Charity.
In case you're wondering what happened to my other bench 'Once Upon A Time in Steventon' - this was sold privately to the bench's sponsor.
During summer 2017, I was thrilled to be involved in Basingstoke's Sitting With Jane art trail! Running from June - end of August, the trail saw Basingstoke celebrating - and reclaiming - its most famous daughter, Jane Austen.
Jane Austen was born and spent more than half her life in the Basingstoke area, yet this local heritage was not well-known. Sitting With Jane changed that.
There were 24 BookBenches to discover in total, each painted by an artist, and inspired by Jane Austen's life and work.
'The Golden Peacock' - my own vibrant interpretation of the most famous Pride and Prejudice book cover. This was located at Eastdrop Park, Basingstoke.
'Once Upon a Time in Steventon' - which depicts Jane's birthplace, the tiny rural village of Steventon. This had a stunning location at Tythe Barn, Basing House.
Here's all you need to know about my benches (courtesy of the official Sitting With Jane website)
The Golden Peacock
This spectacular and colourful BookBench celebrates the famous cover of the 1894 edition of Pride and Prejudice, known as the Golden Peacock cover, wrapping peacock feathers around the design and framing it with tropical blossoms. Here in the middle of Eastrop Park is a perfect place to see bright summer colours, you might not see a peacock, but there are plenty of birds and flowers to spot.
The BookBench is sponsored by Basingstoke Leisure Park – the place to go for adrenalin sports as well as relaxing days and nights out. It has ample free parking, and regular buses direct to the town centre and station, a wide range of activities in one convenient location.
Find the BookBench under the white canopy by the boating lake, close to the kiosk where you can buy an ice cream. There is a children’s paddling pool and boats and pedaloes to hire. Free parking is adjacent to the park on Eastrop Lane.
Once Upon A Time in Steventon
This colourful BookBench was inspired by Steventon Church and the beauty of the landscape and wildlife that surround it, close to Jane Austen’s birthplace. Here in Old Basing, the wildlife is just as evident and Basing House and the Tythe Barn long pre-date Jane Austen, and since its restoration the barn is in better condition now than 200 years ago.
The sponsor, Absolutely Offices, provides prestigious Serviced Office Space in Basingstoke, they provide workspace solutions for rent and like to think Jane Austen’s sense of realism and social interaction would have seen the benefits of their space, had it been available 200 years ago.
Basing House is open every day 11am to 5pm except Fridays, but the BookBench is accessible out of these hours. Basing House is an interesting place to visit, an important site for the English Civil War, they host many events – including a Jane Austen weekend 15-16 July. Parking is a nearby via a short walk along the river (nearest postcode for parking RG24 7AL).