We have launched Iris’s ‘Anima’ silk Scarf for Christmas 2019, it’s full of colours and they shine brightly on the pure silk. It is beautifully packed in an Iris Grace Presentation box with care/washing instructions inside. 85cm x 85cm with a red stitched hem. Free Postage and Packaging
The story begins with a Peacock from London called Pepe, he needed a home and we jumped at the chance to help him. I adored the idea of the colourful displays that would entice any child to explore. The magic fairy tale bird that would inspire us all came unexpectedly with a friend called Colin. Colin is a small but mighty rooster and he was along for the ride too. We settled them into the barn with Murph and Smurf our Pigmy goats, Blue, Casper and Jack, the ponies, then at last after the long journey we went to bed. At dawn, all was quiet as I approached the barn. It was oddly silent, no calls for food. Each animal was still, looking sadly down at the ground where Pepe’s body lay cold. Colin looked at me, I felt his loss and we decided to bring him inside as he clearly needed comfort. I am unsure how animals feel death, they certainly show almost human emotions but at the very least giving him comfort would help us along through the sadness of that morning. We do not know why Pepe died, maybe it was the move, shock, we were uncertain of his age but what we do know is he had a very good friend who I would like to get to know better.
Colin settled in the house making us laugh at how confident he is. He enjoys sitting on laps, gentle strokes and settling up high on mantle pieces observing his new household. Thula and Colin have an understanding after one quick flurry and a peck. To those who are new to a house rooster, here are some vital pieces of knowledge from me to you – blackout blinds! brilliant blackout blinds will fool your rooster into having a lie in. They also like to sleep high so maybe clear the mantle pieces and a book shelf just in case. Finally a fire and a warm atmosphere will soothe your rooster in the evening.
So with a journey that began with a Peacock has turned into an unexpected and at times hilarious adventure with a Rooster.
To our delight Colin proved himself to be incredible with Iris and other children so he is now part of our therapy sessions at The Little Explorers Activity Club
We are currently raising funds for Animal Assisted Therapy 2020, if you would like to donate here is the link – https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/animalassistedtherapy
Any help no matter how small it seems to you is deeply appreciated and money well spent. We can offer a tailored approach to vulnerable individual families and their children providing a unique therapeutic environment for them to learn.
Iris’s next Original Painting to be auctioned is ‘Eyebrook’ inspired by her time at the Eyebrook Reservoir at the Leicestershire/Rutland border. The Painting is painted on thick watercolour paper with many layers of acrylic. It has also been dry mounted onto board and will be sold unframed. If you are bidding from abroad we have a brilliant International Courier Service which we have used to send her art safely to it’s new home in the past.
The bidding will start on the 10th November and end at 9pm UK time on the 17th November, good luck everyone!
Please submit bids to Arabella at firstname.lastname@example.org
10% off all Iris Grace Cards, Giclee Prints and Silk Scarves this week in our Autumn Sale
‘The goats are playing the piano!’ you may think it’s a joke but it happens in our house. I blame the cat, our fantastical cat called Thula who helped my daughter with autism in ways in which we humans struggled to and their bond has inspired a movement of special needs parents to see the ways in which these animals can heal and teach our children. So we live in harmony with these animals and in turn they help us with our little charity.
I created an autism friendly club, The Little Explorers Activity Club, that offers Animal Assisted Therapy. A safe and understanding environment to have fun and socialise with other families alongside therapy that is very successful with anxiety, Autism, ADD, ADHD, depression and many other conditions. It has been seen to lower blood pressure, help concentration, calm anxiety and builds confidence. Interacting with animals increases attention spans and has a positive calming effect helping with social interaction.
So to raise awareness about what we do and to raise funds for 2020 I thought I would share a little about our animals, every donation counts no matter how small it seems, we deeply appreciate your help x
Before all of the drama of the past few weeks Iris’s Granny had bought us all tickets to go to the outdoor theatre production of CATS as an early birthday present for Iris. I was determined I wasn’t going to miss this and have been trying my hardest to rest up so we could go together. The perfect antidote to distract Iris from all the worries and stress lately.
I knew the theatre at Kilworth House would be autism-friendly in the way that it’s outdoors, more casual and family-orientated than your typical London theatres but it exceeded all of my expectations. It is set in a beautiful wood with wooden walkways through the trees, over a stream lit with fairy lights and then the stage itself under a magical tent.
The story is about a community of cats, all unique in their own way, each given their moment to express themselves through dance and songs.
The choreography was breathtaking and Iris was transfixed as she watched the dancers move around the stage, she smiled in delight at the flying leaps and slinky moves in the derelict London Underground station.
During the interval Iris met Old Deuteronomy, he sat with Iris, it was like old friends catching up, she looked at him as if he truly was that old cat filled with Wisdom.
Iris was moved to tears by Grizabella, a reminder of how sensitive she is to it all, how in tune to the actor’s movements, their dress and their character. Grizabella is a very old mangy cat, no longer resembling the glamorous cat of her youth. Having left the group, she is now all alone with only the memories of her happier days. She returns to them seeking re-acceptance, but her fellow cats are initially repulsed by her and repeatedly shun her. The dramatic music held Iris with tears building but all is well after her song Memory and they accept her once again as one of them before ascending to heaven.
Iris clapped with us in the applause after each act, she surprised me how well she managed and her granny and I were bursting with pride. There was a curious behaviour that at first I thought was a coping strategy by her to manage the intense music and dance. Every few minutes she looked straight at a little tent beside the stage. It was out of the way, out of most peoples minds and what I thought initially was a backstage tent for the cast. After the performance Iris walked over to the tent and it turned out to be the music tent with some musicians, a mini tech orchestra, they kindly let Iris have a look around and it made me smile that all along she knew when none of us did.
We returned home to our own beautiful cat Thula, lots of hugs and snuggles, we all feel hopeful for a better week ahead.
We are absolutely blown away by the response to our ‘Help Thula’ fundraiser, at the moment we don’t know how much the vets bills will be but they are estimated into the thousands if her operation goes ahead. Even so, we should have enough and extra to put into savings for any future events where the animals get ill or injured.
The last week has been difficult to say the least but it has been made easier by everyone’s kindness and generosity to help our incredible cat. I have been in hospital with what they think is an autoimmune condition called Migratory arthritis or Reactive Arthritis. While I was away Thula has had an accident, we think falling out of a tree. She has hurt her back leg severely rupturing her cruciate ligament.
The vets are working hard with us to try and help her but already the costs are mounting with x-rays and medication. She may need to have surgery.
We had hoped that you guys would be able to help, my expectations were realistic in my mind of raising some money to go towards her vet care to try and relieve some of the financial pressures on our charity. As you can imagine running The Little Explorers Activity Club and all of the animal expenses is a tricky task but when these extras come in it is very hard. I wished with all my body and mind that after bad luck comes good fortune in the form of kindness from others in asking for donations to help pay for Thula’s treatment, x -rays, operation (if she needs it) and medication. But WOW I wasn’t expected it to be like this, a billion, squillion thankyous, I have had tears of joy and the relief is amazing, you are all amazing! We deeply appreciate all of the donations no matter how small they seem to you. Thula isn’t just Iris’s best friend, she is now a therapy cat to many families that come for sessions here at the club each week.
She is the inspiration for the animal therapy here and has inspired many families to find their own ‘Thula’.
This extraordinary cat has gone above and beyond to help heal others so now we will give back to her, she needs the best care possible for her own recovery. So thankyou to all those who have donated and shared the page.
Footsteps were left in the morning dew plotting a route through the orchard. Thula climbed the old damson tree to be close to Iris, watching over her as she explored. Years of work from the Green Woodpecker has left a curious mix of textures, patterns and wildlife. I saw two souls happy to be together, there isn’t and hasn’t been any jealousy from Thula as she has witnessed Iris grow and make new friendships with the other animals. She takes a step back at times giving her space but then most days checks in with her buddy. A mirror, a shadow, a faithful companion and a friend like no other I have ever seen.
It has been a dream of mine to create beautiful silk scarves from Iris’s Paintings for a long time now and I’m very excited to announce finally it’s become a reality.
With the help from the Cotswold family-run company Beckford Silk with nearly half a century of silk printing expertise behind them we have created Iris’s first silk scarf.
Their designers worked with us to produce a scarf that is not only visually stunning but also feels exquisite. As many of you know Iris’s sensitivities to fabrics has been an issue in the past so she was our ultimate product tester. As she flew around the house and garden with the scarf around her I knew we were onto a winner.
Iris is in good company, Beckford Silk has an impressive client list, institutions, such as the National Trust, Highgrove, Westminster Abbey, the Tate and the Royal Academy.
The first painting to be printed onto silk is ‘Raining Cats’, I adore her gentle mix of blues and earthy tones, they shine brightly on the pure silk and I hope it will inspire, adding a little magic to those who wear it. Raining Cats Silk Scarf
‘Raining Cats’ features in the Sunday Times Bestseller ‘Iris Grace’ and here is an extract from the book about this extraordinary painting.
‘In the heart of the garden the three of them sit quietly together: Iris, Thula and Tree Stump. A place to think, to be still and to find peace in a busy and sometimes confusing world. With storm clouds fast approaching I call Iris indoors. Thula follows her best friend and gets into position on the painting table. She purrs as Iris starts to mix some colours on to the paper. The rain starts to fall heavily upon their kingdom out in the garden. They watch for a while from the window as the stump turns a darker shade, soaked from the raindrops. Back in the kitchen, the layers of paint deepen and delicate details immerge as Iris stamps, sponges and scrapes at the surface, uncovering bright colours beneath the dark blue. An image appears: a cat’s face in the shadows. This connection is so strong that it transmits through Iris’s art, a bond breaking through barriers, revealing the brilliance hidden within.’
Planning travel for Iris has always been about following her interests but also helping her develop skills that she will need for the future. Learning how to thrive without her team of animals has been one challenge that’s on my mind each time we leave our menagerie at home. What I don’t tend to dwell on in my blogs is the difficult days, those tough moments where I search in desperation, my brain spins trying to find answers to what has disturbed Iris’s world, what was it that upset her or how do I help. Sometimes her abilities to speak or to show me leave her in those desperate times. I have become, dare I say it dependent on a crutch that takes many forms. A cat, a rabbit, and a pony. I am lucky to be surrounded by a team of animal therapists that save the day so when it’s time to leave them at home I do wonder, what will happen? how will we manage?
So far, to my delight each destination Iris is surrounded with an abundance of wildlife and animals that come to our door. It helps her realise she can make new friendships and get to know other animals and the people that they live with. It opens up opportunities for learning too about the different environments and what animals are suited to where and why.
All sorts of conversations, questions and topics can be derived from the newbies.
They also seem to be there just at the right time to help when Iris needs some distraction or comfort.
I have always been an advocate for how animals can help our children but usually people associate this with Iris’s cat Thula and their extraordinary relationship that wowed us all. But there are so many ways in which animals can teach and support us on our adventures.
The pictures above are from our last trip to Wales during our travels for the Forests of The World Project.