Press Release: Spring Fling Artist Hope Paints, Eats, Shoots and Leaves


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Image Credit: Colin Hattersley
Image Credit: Colin Hattersley

Spring Fling Artist Hope Paints, Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Wigtown painter creates sixteen fruit and vegetable portraits and a recipe booklet to encourage people to enjoy excellent food

A Spring Fling artist is painting 16 one-foot square portraits before cutting up her subjects, cooking them and writing a recipe booklet.

Hope London, from Wigtown, will exhibit her pictures of fruit, vegetables and herbs at the Shoots and Leaves vegetarian and vegan café during the annual open studios weekend from 25 to 27 May.

Her aim is to encourage people to take an interest in growing and cooking their own high quality and tasty foods.

The project is called 16 Square Feet – after the work of Mel Bartholomew which showed that it only takes a small area of soil to grow enough to feed a human.  

Hope, who was a gallery director in Manchester and a lawyer in her native USA before coming to Scotland, said: “It’s really been fun going into shops and looking round friends’ gardens to find fruit and vegetables of character for these portraits.  There have been bunches of dirty carrots, onions of all colours, turnips, pumpkins and sprouts. The carrots ended up as a lovely soup.

“I’m not a vegetarian myself, but it’s been a wonderful experience to try out all sorts of new recipes and to write them down for other people to enjoy. I think it’s really valuable for us to think about where our food comes from, about issues like sustainability, and about how we can grow some of our own food.

“The project has even inspired me to try gardening again – even though the last time I tried it the slugs ate my carrots and they turned iridescent orange, which was an interesting phenomenon but discouraging.

“On a conceptual level, I wanted to create a bold, physical representation of 16 square feet so people can see what can be achieved in such a small space.”

Visitors can drop into Hope’s workshop (which is close to the café) to see her other artwork and also check out how her latest attempt at gardening is faring.

Hope (Studio 07) is on the Spring Fling Blue Route, which has around 15 studios from the Mull of Galloway, at the southernmost tip of Scotland, up to Glentrool in the Galloway Dark Sky Park.

This year Spring Fling sees 94 specially selected studios throw open their doors to the public.

It’s a chance to meet painters, original printmakers, jewellers, glassmakers, wood and metal workers and photographers in the cottages, farms, galleries, mills, converted churches and other places where they work and live.

Joanna Macaulay, Events and Exhibitions Manager for Upland which runs Spring Fling, said: “Hope is just one example of the many imaginative, unusual and inspiring visual artists and craft makers in every part of Dumfries and Galloway who are taking part in Spring Fling.

“There’s a huge amount to see and do – and we are really looking forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy a bank holiday break in Dumfries and Galloway.”

  • See below for one of Hope’s recipes – and there is also a portrait of the carrots and ginger that went in the pot.

Hope’s Carrot and Ginger Soup

Main Ingredients

Carrots - about a kilo / 2.2lbs of the best carrots you can find. Mine came from a local farm shop in rural Scotland near Stranraer, an old-fashioned place where you leave money for your purchases in an honesty box. They even have a box to give yourself change, seriously.  

Vegetable stock - Start with 2 litres / 2 US quarts of stock, either your own or made up from stock cubes or bouillon powder. Keep extra on hand to add if you want to thin the soup. If using salted stock, no extra salt should be needed but it's up to you.

Ginger - fresh if possible, 2-4 tbsp grated or chopped, depending on how hot you like it. Use ginger gingerly, it's powerful stuff.

Onions - 2-3 medium or one big one, red, white or otherwise

Garlic - 4 big cloves

Pepper - ground, to taste

Light olive oil or rapeseed oil for frying - 2 tbsp

Nutmeg - grated if fresh, powdered is fine.  Like the ginger, it's strong and you don't want to overdo it unless you are a nutmeg fanatic. Add a teaspoon maximum, then more if desired.

Turmeric - a teaspoon or more to taste, fresh or ground.  It's orange like the carrots and it's good for you.

A bunch of optional extras

Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans in the States) - as much or little as you like, either cooked from dried chickpeas, or tinned/canned.  If you want this to be a meal on its own use two tins (about a US pint).

Squeeze an orange or two into the pot for added sweetness.

Serve with cream, plain yogurt or vegan substitute for added mellowness.


Peel and chop the carrots into small chunks.  The smaller the chunks, the less cooking time.  

Peel ginger, grate it or chop into tiny pieces.

Put the stock in a very large pot or pan with a lid, and bring to a boil.

Add the carrots to the stock, cover and turn down the heat a bit. I keep it on a rolling boil if in a hurry, or a slower simmer if cooking on a wood stove or range. You could use an electric slow cooker if you prefer.

In a frying pan, heat the oil and lightly fry the garlic, ginger and onions.  Add to the stock mixture.  

Add the rest of the spices (pepper, nutmeg, turmeric).

Add some options if you like - orange juice, dash of cayenne.

Cover and cook until the carrots are soft enough to mash easily, around an hour with large fresh carrots, but check as you go along.

Mash thoroughly or puree with a hand blender.

Add chickpeas and reheat.