EVER since Harrogate artist Anita Bowerman held an art class for nuns at a Yorkshire monastery, the Sisters have been vowing to pay a visit to her Dove Tree studio.
The Sisters come from a closed order of Benedictine nuns at Stanbrook Abbey in Wass, near The White Horse at Kilburn.
Rules mean they do not venture out from the monastery in the North York Moors National Park, unless an urgent errand calls, and they are allowed only one day’s holiday a year.
The Sisters spend their time praying and carrying out other religious and household duties within the monastery.
While visiting one of the Sisters at a care home in Harrogate, the nuns decided to fulfil their promise and call in to Anita’s Dove Tree Art Gallery and studio in Back Granville Road, behind the Cardamom Black restaurant.
Anita was delighted to welcome the excited visitors and show them around. “It’s not every day you get a visit from two nuns. I was delighted to see Sister Julian and Sister Agnes and they loved my artwork.
“Sister Julian played my white mini grand piano, which was said to have been used during the official opening of the Eiffel Tower.”
Anita, artist-in-residence at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Harrogate, has visited Stanbrook Abbey three times in the past few years. The nuns invited her to teach them how to make paper-cut artworks, so they could revive this ancient art in their spare time.
She is especially close to Sister Julian, who loves art, and the two have been painting together just outside the monastery.
“I love visiting Stanbrook Abbey; it’s so peaceful and fills you with tranquillity and inspiration,” says Anita. “Sister Julian is working on some amazing gold-leaf art illustrations and I’ve been able to gather together some art materials for her.”
Sister Julian and Sister Agnes were in raptures over this part of their day out beyond the monastery walls. Sister Julian says: “It was a rare opportunity for us to do this and it had to coincide with a visit to one of our Sisters in a care home nearby.
“As soon as we stepped through the door, large and small paintings and marvellously intricate cut-out work adorned the walls and a profusion of colour and variety of scene were a delight to see. Anita welcomed us warmly and told us about her work as artist-in-residence at the RHS Garden Harlow Carr.
“Anita’s love of nature and gardens was evident in the paintings she had of scenes throughout the year, painted ‘en plein air’ using anything she can find, such as twigs, feathers, pebbles, leaves and grass.
“This gives an unusual quality to her work, not seen elsewhere, and makes her work down to earth and original. It’s a small gallery but bursting with life and I would recommend a visit if at all possible.”