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Under the summer sun

“We’ve crisps with sand, And cake with sand -
It’s grand with lunch or tea - Crunch it up, Enjoy it love,
At least we’re by the sea!” (from Picnic by Judith Nicholls)

Do you remember the feel of summer picnics by the sea? Claiming your spot, spreading out the tartan rug, deck chairs, buckets and spades, the newspaper and of course the picnic. What was your favourite picnic food as a child?

Luke-warm tea in a flask, squashed sandwiches in waxed paper, lemonade, Tayto crisps, soft ice cream between wafers, a paper bag of periwinkles.

“Sand in the sandwiches, wasps in the tea,” (John Betjeman)

What did you do at the seaside?
Exploring rock pools, collecting seashells, playing football and hurley, building sandcastles, the scramble as the tide came in. But it wasn’t always hot was it?

Windswept beach, freezing water, being splashed, ‘once you get down, it’s lovely’, packing up in a hurry, racing to shelter as rain swept in.

The journey home was often quite different to the drive there. Searching for the car keys, strawberries for sale on the roadside. Norman Rockwell illustrates this so well in his painting ‘Coming and Going’. It is a great example of a ‘before and after’ painting with a story that anyone can identify with.


 All images: Gillian Cussen and Inge Van Doorslaer, 2021, except where stated.


Stephanie Dinkelbach, Two Figures, ceramic. Crawford Art Gallery Collection


Michael De Burca, Iompair Feamuinne (Seaweed Collectors on a Strand)
watercolour on paper. Crawford Art Gallery Collection.


William Crozier, The Ripe Field, 1989, oil on canvas.
Crawford Art Gallery Collection.


Camille Souter, Achill, 1960, oil on paper laid on board.
Crawford Art Gallery Collection.

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Suggested Activities
What tastes do you associate with a summer's day out?
The taste of summer: salty chips, sandy sandwiches, melting ice cream.

Can you think of any sayings about June?
“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.” (L. M. Montgomery)

Watercolour painting is a lovely technique to try, very simple, effective and at times wonderfully unpredictable. Using the discs of watercolours and the watercolour paper provided, choose a favourite picnic food, e.g strawberries that you might like to paint.

You could try doing a quick outline in pencil first and then move on to the paint or alternatively start with a paint brush. Painting on wet or dry paper will give different effects. Try sprinkling a small amount of salt on areas of your wet painting and see what happens when it reacts with the wet paint.

How about a poem or a song?

We like ‘June’ by Francis Ledwidge (below). There is a lovely rhythm to his words, try reading it out loud, to get the feeling of June.
Have a look at the reprints included in this Art Envelope. Which do
you like best and why?

Here’s a universal song of summer you might like to listen to.
You may have some of your own to sing.


Broom out the floor now, lay the fender by,
And plant this bee-sucked bough of woodbine there,
And let the window down. The butterfly
Floats in upon the sunbeam, and the fair
Tanned face of June, the nomad gipsy, laughs
Above her widespread wares, the while she tells
The farmers’ fortunes in the fields, and quaffs
The water from the spider-peopled wells.
The hedges are all drowned in green grass seas,
And bobbing poppies flare like Elmo’s light,
While siren-like the pollen-stained bees
Drone in the clover depths. And up the height
The cuckoo’s voice is hoarse and broke with joy.
And on the lowland crops the crows make raid,
Nor fear the clappers of the farmer’s boy,
Who sleeps, like drunken Noah, in the shade
And loop this red rose in that hazel ring
That snares your little ear, for June is short
And we must joy in it and dance and sing,
And from her bounty draw her rosy worth.
Ay! soon the swallows will be flying south,
The wind wheel north to gather in the snow,
Even the roses spilt on youth’s red mouth
Will soon blow down the road all roses go.
Francis Ledwidge

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