Mary Ann Rogers is mad about tulips. They are everywhere at her home in the Northumberland village of West Woodburn and the title of her forthcoming exhibition is Tulipmania!
It is a departure for an artist whose best-known work features birds and animals – notably hares, foxes and farmyard fowl – but not a particularly surprising one.
Bright colours have been an important element of Mary Ann’s work – just look at all those fabulous cockerels – and she has never regarded commercialism as a dirty word.
Parks and florists’ shops are full of tulips at this kind of year because people love them. People have already expressed a fondness for Mary Ann’s tulip paintings – the first ones off the easel made their appearance last year – and she loves doing them.
Before Mary Ann’s tulips burst forth in 2014 she recalled how she had been inspired by a trip to Scotland. She and her husband had stayed in a hotel whose proprietor had tulips growing in every imaginable corner.
“I thought I’d love to do that,” she said.
So she did. Having bought a variety of tulip bulbs and planted them in the autumn, the flowers duly bloomed in a colourful rush.
“They all started to come together so it was a bit hectic,” she recalled.
As the tulips appeared, she had them lifted onto a table outside the window and started to paint furiously.
Her efforts paid off. A display of beautiful flowers became a display of beautiful paintings and now there are more – although Mary Ann says she planned the exercise more carefully this time.
Discussions began back in August with Dutch grower Peter Nyssen and tulip varieties were chosen that would flower periodically.
“These hundreds of bulbs were planted in tubs which were previously used to feed sheep on the next door farm and carefully watched over the winter, taking special care to prevent mice from eating them,” says Mary Ann.
“Then they were placed in position ready for the warmth of spring to do its work.”
At this point Mary Ann could do the work for which she has become well known, producing more paintings, a limited edition print, Spring Tulips, and a range of merchandise.
Tulipmania! is at the Mary Ann Rogers Gallery, West Woodburn, Hexham, Northumberland,NE48 2SE from May 18 until June 7 (11am to 5pm daily) - follow the AA signs for directions.