LOUISE PETTIFER IS AN ARTIST, AND FORMER ARTIST IN RESIDENCE AT SISSINGHURST CASTLE. HERE, SHE TELLS US WHY SHE LOVES WHERE SHE LIVES…
Where do you live?
I live in a coach house on an old farm on the outskirts of Staplehurst.
How long have you lived there and what made you decide to move there?
I grew up nearby and after moving away for university and a few years of living on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells, I came back. The feeling of being at home again, surrounded by fields and oaks trees is hard to beat.
What’s your favourite shop locally?
My favourite shops locally are the National Trust shop at Sissinghurst, especially since they started stocking cards and prints based on my original artwork and they now have a souvenir product range featuring my Rose Garden image. I also love Happy & Glorious in Cranbrook; it is such a beautiful shop, full of interesting pieces and they only stock items made in Great Britain. They are another stockist of my cards too and I have shown original artwork there.
Where’s the best place to go for a Sunday stroll?
I love walking along the beach from Winchelsea to Pett Level, particularly up on the path at the top, as it is such an unusual view, with the beach and sea stretching out on one side and the flat marsh and ridge of hills on the other. You can hear the waves crashing and the sheep bleating at the same time from up there.
The best place to get a cup of coffee?
I’m often in Cranbrook, so I would have to say Ted’s Room, as they are always friendly and welcoming. The coffee is delicious and the brownies are even better.
Where do you take people when they come to visit?
I love taking friends to gardens locally. This might be partly for my own benefit because I am always seeking inspiration for my work but it is a pleasure to meander around a garden with a friend. We have so many stunning gardens around here, all different and all with their own charm. I love Sissinghurst but I also visit Great Dixter, Hole Park and Marle Place on a regular basis.
Where’s your favourite place to eat locally?
That’s a tricky question because there are lots of very good places. For lunch it would have to be Hayden’s in Rye and for dinner I think I am going to say the Three Chimneys between Sissinghurst and Biddenden because it is such a lovely old building, as well as serving delicious food and drink, often sourced very locally.
Are there any nice views nearby?
I love the walk from Linton to Boughton Monchelsea along the Greensand Ridge. The views are incredible, gazing out across the apple orchards and over the Weald; it feels pretty good for the soul.
If you’re looking to relax and unwind, where’s your favourite place to go?
Always my art studio, it is my sanctuary and refuge where all the stresses and strains of everyday life fall away. I love becoming absorbed in the process of making.
Where’s the best place to meet friends and socialise?
I love a cup of tea and a piece of cake, so cafes are quite high up on my list and I recently discovered Beals Barn in Wadhurst, thanks to an artistic friend of mine. Beals is a lovely plant nursery with a café and you can buy wonderful bunches of flowers there with really unusual combinations of plants. I bought a bunch just so I could paint it and I am working on that piece now. Gallery openings and exhibitions are another good place to catch up with friends, have a glass of fizz and look at all the wonderful work.
Why do you love where you live?
I love the beautiful gentle countryside of the Weald and the close proximity to so many great gardens. This area also has such a thriving artistic community and it is wonderful to feel part of that. Most of all I love being near my family and friends and having that sense of truly being at home.