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Art Studio, North Wales

Artist Ed inspired by the Welsh wildlife in his new Garden Studio

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Artist and book illustrator Ed Fisher doesn’t have far to look when he’s in need of inspiration - just beyond the window of his new Garden Studio, deep in the North Wales countryside, there are trees, wildflowers, a babbling stream and a constant flow of birds.

The former RAF aerial photographer now spends his time capturing the charm of the world around him in the Dee Valley, an officially designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

With a creative heritage that traces back through four generations of artists, Ed has just relocated from his home of 45 years to move in with his long-term partner Fiona, an author and story-teller, whose books of folk stories for children he also illustrates.

Together, the couple live just outside Carrog, near Corwen, where Fiona does her writing in the cottage they now share while Ed has his studio, which they had specially built by Rubicon Garden Rooms, to take full advantage of the wonderful scenery around them.

There he produces his particular brand of art, many of which adorn the walls of his new studio. They include extremely intricate and precisely executed works taking in subjects as diverse as trees in the area around his home drawn in pen and ink to a study of Chester Cathedral done on the dot matrix principle.

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Other works include a painting of a crowd at a farm sale to a fascinating interpretation of what a traditional Victorian villa would look like if transposed from London to the deep Welsh countryside.

“I did that one because a friend of mine in London said I’d never done a picture of her house, so I did and set it in Wales,” explained Ed, who has just celebrated his 77th birthday and rediscovered the depth of colours following cataract operations.

Another striking image he produced was a pen and ink drawing of a tree, which appears intriguingly like the torso of a man with his muscular arms outstretched.

There’s also a fine study of a local yoga teacher in which Ed is particularly proud of the line of the outstretched leg he was able to create. Another in his archive is a lifelike self-portrait in pencil.

In recent years his work has been displayed in places like Theatr Clwyd in Mold plus galleries in Llangollen, Corwen and at the National Eisteddfod when it was held in Mid Wales.

Although Ed says that while he has often sold his prints to make money, he likes to keep most of his art for himself.

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For art-lovers, the best place to spot Ed’s magical work is in the pages of Fiona’s four books, which are flavoured by stories of Wales’ ancient Mabinogion legends  - Folk Tales of Denbighshire, Folk Tales of Wrexham, Ancient Legends Retold and North Wales Folk Tales for Children.

Mostly done in Ed’s favoured pen-and-ink drawing style, the illustrations include a ferocious red Welsh dragon sure to strike terror into the hearts of readers and a thoughtful interpretation of the famous Welsh tale of Branwen and Bran, in which a forlorn young maiden looks out longingly across the Irish sea to the little bird who is her true friend.

Gracing the pages of Fiona’s Denbighshire folk tales book is a powerful picture of Welsh prince Owain Glyndwr, which Ed based on the statue of the local legend that stands proudly in the centre of Corwen.

The couple have been together for 14 years after meeting through a mutual friend, and as their relationship blossomed they began to also work together artistically. “It’s been a quite a good professional partnership between myself and Fiona, and all the books have been very successful,” said Ed.

Ed was born in Wallasey on the Wirral but moved at just three months old to Llanfairfechan on the North Wales coast where his family set up home to escape the bombing of Merseyside in the early years of World War Two.

After attending the village school and later Ysgol Friars in Bangor, Ed joined the RAF as a teenager in 1957 and chose photography as his trade.

He served in the UK as well as doing two-year stints in Cyprus and Singapore.

He recalled: “In Cyprus, which at the time was in the throes of its fight for independence, we were doing photographs of serious things like bomb damage, accident scenes and funerals but we also took pictures of royal visits such as the ones I did when Princess Alice of Athlone came to the island.

“In Singapore I was part of an RAF squadron fitting big survey cameras to Canberra bombers for aerial photo reconnaissance.

Ed left the RAF while he was still in Singapore in 1964 and actually hitch-hiked all the way back home to Britain.

Shortly afterwards he decided it was time to enrol at Hammersmith College of Art in London to formalise the interest in art he’d had since childhood and which, he believes, was in his blood with generations of artists in his family lineage.

“My father, grandfather and great-grandfather in turn had all been artists. In fact, my grandfather Josh Fisher, who died at the end of the war, was a well known landscape water colour painter and his works are still sought after. My great-grandfather James was also an artist - amongst my possessions is a heavy wooden policeman’s truncheon he decorated and which had been used during the Liverpool riots of 1837,” added Ed.

At the end of a four-year course he left art college in 1971 with his degree but not before he’d been involved in the art school revolution of 1968.

He explained: “I was a staunch member of the hippy era. People might remember that it was about students like myself taking over art colleges because they were unhappy about what was being taught.

“It involved demonstrations and sit-ins but there wasn’t any violence and most of the college staff were in agreement with what we were doing anyway.”

After college he reckoned it was time to leave London and return to his native North Wales and he moved into a cottage in the countryside near Carrog, just up the hill from his present home, where he stayed for the next 45 years, often earning his living as a craft worker and staying true to his youthful hippy ideals.

“I used to make wooden pendants and now I’m learning a form of kung fu, through a Shaolin Temple monk who lives in Wrexham  - I fell in love with martial arts through doing tai chi,” said Ed, who has also taught the Far Eastern method of controlled but complex movements.

He admits that leaving behind the home, where he’d helped raise two stepchildren with a previous partner, and moving in with Fiona was traumatic,  as it meant he had to sort through decades of belongings and art work.

“In some ways clearing out my old house has been cathartic as it has helped me to go back to drawing, which was my first love. I had to really pare down my belongings to what was essential and get rid of things that I no longer needed. Over 45 years you do tend to accumulate a lot of stuff!”

Even so, the couple realised that Fiona’s house was simply not big enough for their joint possessions and also provide space for them to work. Instead, they decided to make use of the large informal garden, which has a stream running through it.

And for Ed, it meant that he could finally have a purpose built Garden Studio that would be a refuge, no matter the weather, yet that still provided a link to the real world, with internet connection and a phone plus room for his artworks, materials and cameras.

The couple turned to specialists Rubicon Garden Rooms of Deeside to supply and install the building, which has plenty of windows to capture as much light as possible.

Ed said: “When Fiona and I moved to this house we found there wasn’t enough room in it for her to write and for me to have my studio, so I ordered the 4 metre x 3 metre room from Rubicon.

“It’s perfect for my requirements. The exterior is maintenance free thanks to its wood-fibre material, it’s fully insulated and double-glazed and has a power supply with a heater.

“It easily fits all my things, like the desk I inherited from my late father, my books and my artwork.

“I opted for Rubicon because they’re a local company with a good reputation  - I was able to go to the showroom in Deeside to see the different styles - and I like their whole approach and attitude.

“As an artist I can also say that the Garden Room is also aesthetically pleasing and fits well into the surrounding countryside, which is very important as we’re part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“I’d say the new room in the garden means I’ve never been so organised with my work and I’d recommend it to anyone needing a place for their craft or hobby.”

Rubicon Garden Rooms managing director John Lyon says he is seeing an increasing trend among customers for buildings that allow them to pursue their creative dreams while giving them extra space.

The company has more than ten years of experience in the building industry, and specialises in the manufacture and installation of luxury Garden Buildings.  Fully insulated, they use hi-tech wood fibre material to enhance comfort and are zero-maintenance.

John said: “Art for many people is not just a hobby, it’s a profession and it needs plenty of space  where they are separate from the distractions of everyday life. Initially they start by looking for a larger house, only to realise that they don’t want to move elsewhere and they’ve actually got room to expand, into the garden.

“A Garden Room can either be separate from the house, or an extension, but it does give the space needed. I love to see the different ways in which customers use our buildings. We’ve got art studios, sewing rooms, model plane makers, home cinemas for film buffs, pool tables and music rooms for both professional players and those just wanting somewhere to practice away from the family.”

“Quite often, they double up as home offices as well or provide extra storage space - important when two people with a lifetime of possessions move in together, such as Ed and Fiona.”

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What our Customers Say

"Please convey my thanks to everyone and we were very touched at your kindness. You were all an absolute pleasure to have around and it felt very quiet without you!! We are absolutely thrilled with the Garden Room and have now painted the walls and ceiling and the laminate wood flooring and skirting boards are being fitted tomorrow. Once the skirting boards are painted we can move in the furniture and will be like pigs in muck!!! Many, many thanks once again, we are absolutely delighted with our Garden Room. After you left Heather sat on the decking with a glass of wine, this is the life! Take care and you all have a safe journey tomorrow. Thank you once again."

Andrew and Heather - Ruthin, N.Wales

“We did an awful lot of research and found Rubicon online. We drove across to Deeside to have a look at their showroom, and all the different examples on display. We liked managing director John Lyon a lot and his approach gave us confidence to start the process. All in all, it took a couple of months from deciding that we would have a Garden Office until the team arrived on site as they were very busy and we needed to book a delivery slot well in advance. Then they were here for about three weeks for the installation which included drainage and water supplies for a toilet and mini kitchen. The team were lovely guys – no nonsense and very diligent, polite, hard-working people. Dave likes to cook a bit – mainly cakes and pastries – so he baked things for them, which always helps to keep the team happy..! We now have a beautiful extra Garden Office room, which Dave uses when he’s working at home. He has a 30 second walk to work in the morning, and it means we are no longer in the way of each other. I believe that the building is also a thing of great beauty and I would absolutely recommend Rubicon to anyone considering something similar.”

David and Rachel - Manchester

"We trawled through the internet and Rubicon sounded like the best bet for what we were after. We made an appointment and went down to the showroom on Deeside. There we met Managing Director John, spent time looking at the different examples on show and examining the products, and then had a good chat about what we needed. We never felt rushed or pressurised, and had time to think about what we wanted - his whole manner makes him such a good person to deal with. We felt that we were getting a good product. What Rubicon offered was perfect for what we wanted and, once we started the process with them, the work was done in just two to three weeks. The team turned up every day at the time John said they would, and were polite and very easy to get along with. Having them here working in the garden was no trouble at all and I would recommend Rubicon without a doubt - in fact some of the neighbours have already been round to see it and ask where we got it. I can say hand on heart that John and his the team from Rubicon were the nicest people we have ever had work for us."

Dennis and Val - Stockport

"Dear John, Thank you very much, all very professional from your company throughout the construction and installation. I cannot find anything, but if there is somewhere where I can place a review or recommendation on your web site I will be pleased to do so. Please just send me a link. As and when the garden, now under snow is complete, I will forward some photos, probably June the way the weather is. I have received a letter from Flintshire County Council asking for me to comment on your services. Just to let you know that I am returning it, highly recommending your company. All the very best to you and your company in the future. We are really pleased with our Garden Room and I would not hesitate in recommending you to any future customers. Just ask them to call me."

Mick and Barbara - Burnley

“I love my new garden room. Got to say this was one of the most enjoyable experiences of dealing with a company ive had for a long time. Finish is fab inside and out, its made such a difference, we use it all the time. Jake our son, won’t come out of there. Can’t thank John and his team enough of a great product at a great price….Thank you, etc etc.!”

Gill and Ben Henderson, Warrington

"We wanted to get a Garden Room that David could use as a separate office that was peaceful and quiet when he’s working from home. We liked what we saw at Rubicon’s showroom in Deeside straight away, and got on very well with the MD John Lyon – he immediately gave us the confidence that he would deliver what he promised, and he did. We took one of their standard Garden Offices and adapted it so that it would work for us, and nothing we suggested was a problem for Rubicon – they were really good to work with. They kept me posted all the time about what was going on, what stage they were at and who would be coming and what they would be doing the next day. They tidied up after themselves too, and really minimised any inconvenience. What was very important to me as well was that we had my elderly father staying with us at the time, he was 85, and they were so very respectful to him. Everyone from the young apprentice to the seasoned builders treated him brilliantly and talked to him about what they were doing every day while I was out at work. The Garden Office is lovely and warm as it’s fully heated, and so can be used all year round. I would most definitely recommend Rubicon Garden Rooms to anyone."

David and Kate - Frodsham

“Rubicon’s extension been fantastic, and it has really changed Ray’s life. It’s very warm and fully insulated, light and comfortable - it is easy to look after. We can get Ray in and out of bed and into his wheelchair much more easily, and it means that he has somewhere to go that’s his, for some quiet time. He loves sitting by the big window watching the birds and wildlife, or enjoying the views of the garden. The extension is very well made and went up quickly, and has changed our life. It means Ray has somewhere to sit, and we haven’t lost our lounge. When our three grandchildren come round, they love to go into his room and see him. I can’t thank Rubicon enough for the help their team have given us, they have been brilliant."

Ray and Josie - Mancot

“We had been looking for something to fill a big space at the bottom of our garden for some time and then Pat heard about a local Garden Room company through our friends at the golf club who had had one built for them. We went to have a look and were very impressed so contacted Rubicon for more details. I must admit that when we saw the showroom model we were so impressed that all logic went out of the window - we didn’t even consider the alternatives until after we had paid our deposit - not our normal way of doing things. But we needn’t have worried. I researched the internet and the price we had been quoted for what we had fitted represented excellent value for money. We could not be happier with our choice now and would like to thank Bill and Alan for doing such a great job - always smiling and nothing was too much trouble. We would highly recommend Rubicon Garden Rooms and are are actively passing on the message amongst family and friends. Good luck for the future”

Cliff and Pat Lovell, Llandudno

"Hi John, Just got back from a couple of days in London. I can confirm that invoice has arrived and has been paid. Many thanks for ALL your work. At our little garden party last Sunday all commented on the new Garden Studio - and one chap has examined it thoroughly (!!) and will contact you to arrange one for himself. All like the grey!! Hope you have a lovely Christmas, and hope we can keep in touch. Best wishes. PS Jan will send you photos with some plants in front!"

Stephen and Jan - Hawarden, Nr Chester

“This company may not be the biggest but they are surely the best. I drove my wife mad in my research for a building to run our business from after out-growing the spare bedroom I wanted something which could provide a distinct break between home live and work. To be frank there were not many companies within our locality, most of those i found were based down south and I wanted someone more local that I could put a face to ( and shout at if i needed!). A friend of mine had had some building work done recently and recommended I talk to them to see what they could do as he thought they also made garden offices. Best decision I ever made was to contact Rubicon the whole team are so professional and the product is fantastic. No complaints whatsoever apart from it did take a bit longer than I thought it would as they were very busy at the time. But the end result has been a triumph, exactly what I wanted at a competitive price and when i look at what i have saved by not renting an office it’s a no brainer…”

Phil Grayson, Northwich

"I saw Rubicon Garden Rooms online and wanted to find something that was nearby so that I could go and see what they were doing and talk to people face-to-face about it. I went along to the showroom in Deeside and I was very impressed with what I saw, and with the Managing Director John Lyon. I nearly ordered a conservatory but changed my mind at the last minute when I realised that one of these Garden Rooms would be nicer and much more use to me all year round. It was quite an investment so I took some time to think about it but eventually I decided to go for it and treat myself, as I was still working but also had my pension coming in. I went back for another chat and told them what I wanted and they just came and did it. They knocked down the old lean-to and started again and created this lovely room, leading on from my main living area. Rubicon Garden Rooms were just lovely to work with and did everything I asked. From the very beginning they gave me good advice and guidance and made it a really easy process throughout – I’d definitely recommend them to anybody else looking to extend their home simply and quickly."

Beryl - Talacre, N.Wales

"One of our disabled tenants required access to ground floor facilities, including a bedroom and bathroom. This need was urgent, so instead of a traditional build, which would be highly disruptive to the tenant, we approached Rubicon Garden Rooms who provided a high quality Garden Room attached to the property, which has the potential to be reused elsewhere in the future. We were delighted that Rubicon were able to quickly provide this essential modification to the property that met the council's rigorous standards for such work."

Cllr Helen Brown - Flintshire County Council

“We did quite a bit of research into companies that make them and chose Rubicon Garden Room as we thought a synthetic material would last better and we liked their range. Here in the Garden Room I can switch the laptop on and keep up with conference calls at any time, which is important as we have manufacturers in America and the Far East. Having this Rubicon room just gives us a bit extra space and lets me get away from the house when I need to. Their team were great, they cleared up after themselves every day and I couldn’t fault them at all. We’re very happy with what we’ve got, it’s a perfect, self-contained space with everything we need. and it makes a huge difference to my work-life balance.”

Nick and Paula - Halifax

"We had an office on a local business park, but being able to move into our own premises here has been a wise business move. We've got the perfect, self-contained space with everything we need. We can now open our French doors and have lunch on the patio in a lovely established garden, which is something most people would love. We did a lot of research and found that the prices were all very similar,” said Julian. “But what we liked about Rubicon was the fact that we could go and see their factory in Deeside and the examples they had on show. We also visited a few completed buildings and talked to the owners and we heard nothing but positive feedback so we decided to go with them. Most of the structure is prefabricated at Rubicon’s base and then they come and slot it together on site. They were great to work with – they were all very competent and everything I asked of John and his team, they delivered."

Julian and Kerry - Wirral

"Hi John, Hope you have enjoyed your weekend! Building is brilliant, we are extremely pleased with it, plaster is drying out nicely. I have sent over the last payment to your bank this evening.....On behalf of Clare & myself, I would like to thank You and the build team (Buster,Lee,Martin, Liam, Kurt & Dad), and not forgetting the window guys... for all your hard work and excellent eye to detail on our lovely pool room! Will let you know when everything is completed and you are welcome to visit with your Marketing PR person if you need any further photo’s. Look forward to meeting up for a cuppa soon :)"

Colin and Clare - Leicester




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