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Monday, 6 June 2022

Testimonial: Nono Garcia

Nono Garcia is one of our new ambassadors for St Cuthberts Mill and we are so excited to have such a talented artist on board. We spoke to him to find out why he likes Saunders Waterford so much and how using this fine paper has aided him in his work. 

Nono has his studio in Murcia, in the south of Spain, and has spent more than twenty years dedicating himself exclusively to the world of painting. His work has been awarded many times both in Spain and in other European countries. Sincerity emanates from his work, and what he feels about the subject, which can be seen in his work in recent years, where he reaches heights of enormous lyricism. His works collect realities and suggestions, united in the same composition, the urban landscape, or the object is something concrete, such as a crystal glass, which endows it with absolute perfectionism and makes it the point of attraction, surrounding him with an almost invisible environment. Although he also works with acrylic, it is in recent years that watercolour occupies most of his work. 

Nono on Saunders Waterford

"Over the years I have varied my way of working with watercolour using various types of paper, both industrial and handmade. In my latest watercolours, I start from a previously moistened paper that has to support several layers of watercolour without the support suffering. It was in this search that I found Saunders Waterford, a paper that has all the characteristics that the painter needs to work without those problems caused by excess humidity. 

On the other hand, the texture of the fine-grain (CP) paper of 300gsm (140lb), which is the one I use the most, adapts very well to my transparencies, since it has a velvety surface and at the same time resistant. I also like being able to find it in two different types of white, which I use interchangeably to give the work more or less warmth depending on my needs. I have always thought that of the materials we use in watercolour, a good paper is the most important, a support that respects each brushstroke of the pictorial work and that is an extension of your work, that forms part of it.

Each of my watercolours requires a good number of hours of study and work, I have to be very comfortable with the materials I use and Saunders Waterford only gives me comfort, it also gives me quality and above all, security in a perfect finish. It is an enormous privilege for me to be an ambassador for St Cuthberts Mill, I feel protected by the brand that I have been using for years. 

Being accompanied by the best materials is something that drives me and gives me the energy to keep going. I believe that the painter must be in continuous evolution and not accommodate, as artists we have the obligation to be in continuous learning and try to go further. When I see my finished works I always believe that I can improve, honestly, I believe that my best works on this paper are yet to come. With good tools, it is easier to work, and I have them."

Nono's featured artist page

Nono's Instagram

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Winners of the 'Draw This in Your Style' Challenge: What Wonderful Works of Art!

Earlier last month, we asked you to take part in our 'Draw This In Your Style' challenge, that went out on Instagram. We asked you to replicate a reference photo of St Cuthberts Mill, in your own style, meaning you had full creative reign as long as you created the piece on our paper.

Thank you so much to everyone who took part, it warmed our hearts to see so many of you have a go and get involved. If you would like to check out the entries, please visit the hashtag #dtiysstcuthbertsmill on Instagram. 

It was so difficult to choose our winners as each piece truly had so much effort and creativity put into them. However, we did eventually come to a decision... 



This piece by artist @waldfrau art makes perfect use of tone and depth to shine a beautiful light on the front of the mill, and we felt it was a perfect use of watercolours. We especially love the purple flowers that she decided to include. Can you believe that she doesn't draw buildings that often? 


Artist @alma_colours paints this delightful piece on Saunders Waterford. We love how sunny and warm the atmosphere looks in the depiction and we really love those details on the bricks. 


Our final winner is @sabirinot, who has created this visually interesting and quirky piece using black ink and watercolour. We love how he has given a modern twist on our old mill, and given us a twisty chimney at the same time! 

Let us know if you enjoyed this challenge and if you would like us to do another in the comments below. 

Visit our winning artists' Instagram accounts: 



Check out all the entries here: 

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Art Event: Patchings Festival 14-17 July 2022

After a long wait, we are delighted to be back at the Patchings Festival this year,
after a gap of two years due to the Pandemic. St Cuthberts Mill will be sponsoring the St Cuthberts Mill Festival Marque again. We have a superb lineup of artists waiting to see you.

Set in the rolling fields of Nottinghamshire, England, the Patchings Art Centre transforms the large grounds where it resides into a festival celebrating art. A se
ries of marquees pop up to create a vibrant village dedicated to art.

Each of the St Cuthberts Mill performances will last approx. 1 hour where you will experience first-hand, the journey that each of these artists undertakes to create their artwork, transforming a blank sheet of paper into a piece of beautiful work. 

Friday 15 July

Adebanji strives to bring the force and power of the sketch into every piece he embarks on. He is a strong advocate of sketching and believes everything in art starts with a sketch. 

The Artist in Residence for the BBC’s One Show, and regular contributor to the programme. He visited St Cuthberts Mill during the pandemic for the One Show and was filmed teaching some of the workforce to paint portraits. Author of The Addictive Sketcher and Sketches of a City Life.

He likes to focus on people because of the play of light, mood, emotion and beauty that each face brings, and places where the atmosphere, historical importance, mood and play of light inspire him.

MEDIUM: Known for working in oil, Adebanji also works in acrylics, watercolour and pastel. Adebanji will be painting in watercolour for the demonstration with St Cuthberts Mill.
STYLE: People, places, cityscapes.

Thursday 14 July     Friday 15 July     Saturday 16 July

David travels extensively in search of subjects to paint and is especially fascinated by mountains, the Arctic in its various moods, and the sandy scenery in the Middle East. In search of subjects, he has fallen over a crocodile in Kenya, sketched on a dog sledge in Greenland, and taught spear-hugging Maasai warriors to sketch in Tanzania.

He paints mainly in watercolour with all his paintings done from first-hand experience and a keen advocate of sketching. David is a full-time artist and a prolific author, having written 21 books illustrated by his paintings including ‘Landscapes through the Seasons' and ‘Seas & Shorelines’.

MEDIUM: Watercolour
STYLE: Wilderness landscapes, coastal and pastoral scenes

Thursday 14 July

Peter is known for plein air painting, where he finds engaging with the natural world using paint and brushes is a sublime experience, as a journey with no end. Recently he made his TV debut on the recent Channel 5 Watercolour Challenge, where Peter was the expert and judge for the Welsh heats of the series.
Specialising in watercolour and oils, Peter is a member of The Royal Society of Marine Artists, the Royal Watercolour Society of Wales and the Pure Watercolour Society. Based in South Wales, Peter finds himself outside a lot painting the world around him inspired by its natural beauty.

MEDIUM: Watercolour, oil
STYLE: Lansdcapes, marine, harbours, townscapes

Saturday 16 July

International artist and author, Soraya is a contemporary artist known for her expressive and colourful mixed media paintings on a wide variety of subject matters. Her paintings are vivid and known for their colour, light and expressive textures. 

Soraya’s work has received a number of prestigious awards and is a director and former president of The Society of Women Artists. Author of numerous books, including ‘Contemporary Flowers in Mixed Media’ and ‘Contemporary Landscapes’.

MEDIUM:  Mixed Media – watercolour, oils, pastels, acrylics
STYLE: Musicians, café scenes, African markets, flowers, travel

Saturday 16 July

Working primarily with calligraphy inks, graphite and liquids, such as tea and alcohol, Carne focuses on the creation and manipulation of the drawn line. His images explore human, animal, geometric and floral forms, in a combination of both literal and abstract translations. Images are recorded in a dreamlike sense onto paper where his work creates a journey of escapism.

Carne was a successful professional embroidery designer before embarking on being a full-time artist. His works have been exhibited widely in the UK and overseas. Author of ‘The Organic Painter’.

MEDIUM: Ink, tea, alcohol
STYLE: Figurative

Thursday 14 July     Friday 15 July

Andrew is an advocate for pure watercolour and is a founding member of the Pure Watercolour Society. He was born in London and studied art, illustration and graphic design moving into a career in London as a designer and art director.
Throughout his career in design he never lost his passion for painting and finally moved to Cornwall in 2013 and was inspired by watercolour courses by James Fletcher-Watson RI, RBA, PWS.  From those early days, he developed his love of painting in the open air and now you will be hard pushed to find him at home. He particularly enjoys coastal scenes such as his favourite beach at Polzeath. He is a regular tutor at the Windrush Gallery.
MEDIUM: Watercolour
STYLE: Seascapes, landscapes, castles, townscapes

To purchase tickets for the Patchings Festival follow the link to their website.

These additional performances have a small extra fee, in addition to the general entrance fee.

To learn more about each artist, please visit:

Adebanji Alade: 

David Bellamy:

Peter Cronin:

Soraya French:   

Carne Griffiths: 

Andrew Hucklesby: 

In addition, experts from St Cuthberts Mill will be on hand in the St Cuthberts Mill Festival Marquee and the Art Materials Marquee, who will be ready to answer any paper related questions you have.

Thursday, 17 March 2022

People Behind the Paper: General Manager Phil Staple

Phil Staple is well known across St Cuthberts Mill and is ultimately in charge of the smooth running of the mill. He is responsible for all the different departments getting perfect paper made and packed. Phil is well respected as a highly-skilled papermaker, and now runs the entire site at St Cuthberts Mill.
We spoke to Phil about his life at St Cuthberts Mill to kick off our 'People Behind the Paper' series.
Phil Staple was the subject of a portrait tutorial by
artist Adebanji Alade for the BBC One Show 
piece on St Cuthberts Mill
What is your role at St Cuthberts Mill?
I’m the General Manager.

How long have you worked at St Cuthberts Mill?
Quite a long time, it will be 35 years this January.

What did you start doing when you began working here?
I started as a Machine Assistant or Broke Boy. I was the person who swept up the floor in the machine house by the paper machine and made sure everything was tidy. Waste paper is called ‘broke’ and my first responsibility to was ensure all the ‘broke’ was tidied up. It also involved making lots of cups of tea for the experienced papermakers. So I started at the bottom and worked my way up.
What is your favourite memory of the mill?
Probably the customer visit days. We ran a series of visits with our UK distributors where UK art shops and printmaking studios came and visited St Cuthberts Mill to learn how we make artist papers. It was really enjoyable meeting all the different kinds of people who use or sell our papers.

What is the best thing about being part of the St Cuthberts team?
These days it’s working with all my colleagues, who I get on very well with. There’s a good rapport within the mill. I get on especially well with Neil, who is the Engineering and Project Manager, which is just as well as we share an office
Customer day was run in connection with
RK Burt & Co, Ltd in 2014 
What is your favourite paper?

Production wise, it has to be one that’s reasonably easy to make. Bockingford usually runs really well. As far as good-looking papers, that has to be Somerset, it has a great-looking watermark and feels nice.

AUDIENCE QUESTION:  How do you make sure you maintain consistent quality in the paper you make?
We have a great team that takes quality very seriously and ensures every aspect of the paper is up to the standard we pride ourselves in. All the papermakers test and are in control of the quality of the paper they make, so they are directly responsible to make it right. Every making of paper has a ‘making number’ assigned to it, so we can track back when any sheet is made with all the test results recorded. The papermakers are supported by our technical team who view all the trends and oversee the quality. Finally, our finishing department gives the paper a last visual check and removes anything that has any blemishes.

If you enjoyed finding out a little about our people behind the paper, please do let us know in the comments. If you also have any questions, send them our way either in the comments or email:
Both Phil and Neil were featured in the piece filmed for the BBC’s One Show with Adebanji Alade. Links to the show can be found in this previous article:

Adebanji Alade will be working with St Cuthberts Mill again at the 2022 Patchings Festival. More info coming soon.


Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Artist Interview: Tina Westcott speaks of how the Mendip Hills inspired her to gain Associateship with the Royal Photographic Society

Photographer Tina Westcott spoke with us about her recent project called ‘Nature’s Reclamation of Disused Quarries’, which gained her an Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society in the Landscape genre. Her panel of images were printed on Somerset Photo. Tina is local to St Cuthberts Mill and photographed many of the images on the Mendip Hills, which has been and still is, a rich source of quarrying. The Mendips play an intrinsic role to St Cuthberts Mill, with the water that breathes life into our papers.

The Mendip Hills have a long history of quarrying its basalt and limestone providing an excellent source of stone for the building, road building, and pharmaceutical industries.  The hills also create the pure water of the River Axe, by filtering the water as it slowly trickles through the limestone, creating a maze of amazing caves and tunnels and as it emerges at Wookey Hole it is used, as it has been for three centuries, to create the papers made at St Cuthberts Mill.
Tina Westcott was inspired by how nature has been reclaiming the local disused quarries bringing back a rich variety of flora to once heavy industrial areas and strove to capture the changing landscape with her camera.

What do you love about photography?

First and foremost I love geography and exploring landscape, eager to see what is around the next corner.  We are a mountaineering family and photography became a natural extension of our walks, climbs and treks both at home and abroad.  As photography became more and more of a passion I preferred to explore with my camera alone, to be totally focussed and happy looking for colour, pattern and detail rather than the grand vista.

You’ve captured how nature slides back into the once scarred areas of quarrying, what first inspired you to focus on this, often overlooked, part of the Mendip landscape?

It was a visit to the disused slate quarries of North Wales one late autumn afternoon when the light was low and golden on the rock and the autumn leaves of the naturalising trees and shrubs.  This beauty prompted the idea to photograph the disused quarries of Mendip on my doorstep.  This became an ideal project for the last two years, confined as we were during lockdown to walking in our own locality, it also has the advantage that I can easily revisit locations to find the ideal light and season to photograph.

Your images show nature reclaiming the landscape, from small plants to large trees, how do you find these glorious locations?

As a lover of maps, I first highlighted all the disused Quarries identified on the East and West Mendip Ordnance Survey Maps and there are at least 42 of them and I live just half a mile away from one near my home!  They range from small roadside diggings to large acreages. Then an exciting treasure hunt began.  Although some have public footpaths the majority of disused quarries are privately owned and to obtain permission to explore them I visited Westbury Quarry on a Mendip Rocks weekend and the Earth Science Centre at Stoke St Michael.  Dr Gill Odolphie at the Earth Science Centre was incredibly helpful and guided me to those quarries she knew to be particularly beautiful. 

What was your goal with this set of photographs, what did you want them to say to the viewer?

As the project grew it became an ideal subject for my Associateship panel.  This requires a set of 15 images presented in a tonally and structurally cohesive manner and a brief 150 word Statement of Intent.  Traditional landscape subjects have been grand vistas of well-known beauty spots shot in beautiful light.  However, many have now become overvisited and overphotographed.  I wanted to tell the story of Mendip in a more intimate and even abstract way.

What equipment do you rely on in the field to take your photographs?

I am not a technical photographer and, although I own a tripod, I rarely use it as my Olympus OM1 mk iii camera has excellent in camera stability enabling me to get sharp images handheld.  I rarely plan my visits preferring the spontaneity of responding to what I see in the moment, relying on my eye for geography, composition and awareness of light.  Occasionally using a wide-angle lens to take images which set the context, I prefer a zoom lens to capture structure and detail and to tell the story of the land in a more intimate manner.

To gain your Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society you had to show an understanding of the geography of the area, how did you go about achieving this?

An Associateship panel in the Landscape genre must demonstrate not only an understanding of geography but also a personal connection and style and tell a meaningful story.   I have a BSc in Geography which included a study of Botany and Ecology and growing up in Bristol I visited the Mendips on field trips and learned about limestone geomorphology, swallets and caves at school.  I have also done a bit of caving in the past.   Folk may not know that besides limestone we have an old volcano on the Mendips which provides the hard basalt for road building!  Quarries mostly become disused when they reach a point where difficult geology makes quarrying unsafe and unviable.  It doesn’t take nature long to recolonise the quarry levels.  Birds and the wind bring in the seeds and the resultant trees and shrubs cling to and emphasise the rock structures and old quarry levels beautifully and many old quarries have now become valuable nature reserves.

You were once lucky enough to visit St Cuthberts Mill a couple of years ago, when we were offering a limited number of ‘Golden Tickets’ during Somerset Art Weeks, did the industrial heritage of St Cuthberts Mill inspire you?

I was indeed lucky to tour St Cuthbert’s Mill and to see the age-old paper-making process from start to finish.  The care with which the original paper presses were maintained and operated, to see the rows of watermarking moulds and trying my hand at deckle edging the finished paper were the highlights and I took a few pictures!  St Cuthbert’s is one of only a handful of paper mills remaining making paper in Europe and I am delighted that they also make quality 100% cotton photographic paper so it was a natural choice for my images. 

You printed your images when you made the submission to the RPS, what qualities do you look for in inkjet paper?

I print my own images and initially chose St Cuthberts because of its connection to Mendip. As a relative newcomer to matte paper, often using lustre and baryta paper in the past, I am delighted with the sharpness and detail, and colour rendition that Somerset Photo Satin Bright White gives to my images. The RPS Print Assessor and my photography friends have all commented on the quality of the prints remarking on the almost 3D effect making the image almost jump out of the paper and lending texture and detail to the rock.



To see more of Tina’s work


Royal Photographic Society

Somerset Earth Science Centre  

To learn more about the water at St Cuthberts Mill and the Mendip

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Charlie Taylor from BBC Radio Somerset visits the Mill: How the River Axe is Critical in Making our Paper

 Last month, Charlie Taylor who hosts the evening show on BBC Radio Somerset, came to visit St Cuthberts Mill as part of his feature on the River Axe. He wanted to find out exactly why the river was so important to us, and how exactly it helps us to make paper. Although Charlie’s hometown is the City of Wells, he wasn’t aware how important the river and its location to St Cuthberts Mill was. Cathy Frood from our marketing team took the opportunity to show Charlie around everything that St Cuthberts Mill had to offer.  

Follow this link to find the interview in full: 

You may notice that in some of the pictures, Cathy looks tiny in comparison to Charlie. The truth of the matter is that Charlie really is that tall and Cathy really is that small!  

When Charlie arrived, we had a beautiful start to the interview. Although too quick to catch it on camera, we were gifted with a real-life Kingfisher flying downstream. This got us onto talking about the importance of wildlife at the mill. The river was full to the brim, as we had a lot of rain from the weekend before. Normallwe could see trout in the river, but unfortunately because of the increased flow of waterthere were none to be seen. Cathy explained to Charlie that seeing trout in the river was a great sign of healthy water, and the word Axe actually means an abundance of fish.  

Asking why the river was so important to us here at the mill, Cathy replied that water really was the lifeblood of the paper mill. The River Axe rises at Wookey Hole Caves, just up the road from us. As the surrounding Mendip Hills are made out of limestone, the water filtered through them is known to be extraordinarily pure, which is why it attracts so much wildlife. The pure water is a key ingredient in making our paper, as we need it to make the greatest quality artist’s papers as possible.  

Charlie was shown the three large tanks, tucked around the side of the mill. These are the sand filters, which filter the already pure waterThese filters have layers of sand in them that push the water through and take out any particles of debris. These create some wonderful dripping water sounds that were used on the radio piece. 

The size of the buildings impressed Charlie who was blown away as we moved around and through the building. He made the comparison of Wells being such a small city and having a huge cathedral, and that St Cuthberts Mill was similar and a “cathedral to papermaking”. He pointed out that it was unbelievable that we called the part of the mill that was built in 1897, ‘the new bit’, which led us onto the history of the mill itself.  

We are the last commercial paper mill along the river, explained Cathy. Although there used to be six, due to the purity of the waterwhich led this area of Somerset being proficient in  papermakingSt Cuthberts Mill have also been making paper since the 1700’s meaning we’ve learnt a few things about making paper along the way.

During the Victorian period, the owner of the mill put on a beautiful frontage that can still be seen today. 

 Moving inside the mill, Cathy demonstrated to Charlie just how the beginning of the paper
making process uses the water filtered through the river 
and one key other ingredient- pulp. Our pulp is either made from wood, coming from sustainably managed forests in Scandanavia, or cotton, a by-product of the textile industry, coming from Spain or China.
 The pulp is mixed into a huge vat called the hydro-pulper. At this stage in the process it is about 97% water and 3% pulpCharlie commented that it looked just like ‘papery porridge and we had to agree with him. 

The rest of the tour involved taking Charlie around the seemingly endless site, showing him exactly where the water is used in each part of the process. We also demonstrated how we filter the water again after it’s been used, to go back into the river and maintain the beautiful level of wildlife, as discussed earlier. It was great to show an outsider of the mill exactly what it is that makes this place so very special, as it gave a whole new perspective on the importance of water in the Mill. 

We would like to thank Charlie for coming out to the Mill and we hope he comes to visit again soon. 

Which part of the process would you like to hear more about? Please let us know in the comments below.