C is for Childhood Favourites….

‘When We Were Very Young’ Limited Edition print

The worlds of imagination that we find in books as children can expand our universe and expand our minds, helping us to see that there is a big wide world of opportunities and adventure out there…

One of my favourites to dip in and out of was A. A. Milnes When We Were Very Young’, which brought such delight and thrills to everyday life: there was a man that wasn’t there half way down the stairs! There were bears hiding around the corner! …and the simple happiness of John with his Great Big Waterproof Boots on…

I included this wonderful book in my painting of the same title, which is available to buy as a Limited Edition print in an edition of 100.

When We Were Very Young
‘Sarah’s Room’ the next Childhood themed Limited Edition print?

M is for Milly Molly Mandy

The copy of Milly Molly Mandy pictured in  ‘Sarah’s Room’ belonged to my mother as a child. The first of Joyce Lankester Brisley’s MIlly Molly Mandy stories were published in 1928, the year my mother was born, and they are still being republished today.

When she passed this copy on to my youngest, we were delighted to discover that Granjay had been a naughty child and scribbled on the illustrations with crayons! Very reassuring to discover that one’s parents are actually fallible human beings!

I was thinking of bringing this second childhood themed painting out as a new Limited Edition print – what do you reckon?
Which of these books takes you back to your childhood? I’d love to know!

‘Hug’ – a bespoke painting

H is for Hug

For one more glance back to childhood, this painting ‘Hug’ was a bespoke present for my youngest, Theo. He chose  his most treasured books on his 18th birthday, and I painted this Shelf Portrait ready for his 21st.

As you can see from the tape (barely) holding it together, Jez Alborough’s ‘Hug’ , was a favourite toddler book!

“I liked the idea that the smallest hug has the power to fill up even the largest animal” says Jez.

If you are looking for that illusive unique gift for a special someone in your life, what about a bespoke Shelf Portrait?

You can find out more on my website, or reply to this email with your enquiry 🙂

Bespoke paintings

Yes, it’s that fabulous time of year again!
Hebden Bridge artists and makers will be opening their doors and welcoming you into their studios over the weekend of

July 5th-7th from 10.30am to 5pm 🙂

More details to follow……

Best nostalgic childhood wishes,

Currently Reading: ‘Joan Eardley’ by Christopher Andreae

Roo’s Shop Here 🙂

Spine[less]: Rebinding The Portico

I’d like to tell you about an exciting project I am working on in collaboration with the Portico Library in Manchester. When I first walked into the Portico Library I was immediately drawn to the most damaged books: the ‘spineless’ books in the collection, with their scuffed

leather tones and fascinating array of under-papers, held together with cotton ribbons.  These hidden under-layers, of the centenarian books standing exposed along the shelves: hand-written accounts ledgers; scraps from newspapers; advertisement flyers; lines of script; all assumed by the original book-binders to never see the light of day. Looking along the library shelves we get a glimpse into hidden histories…

I had gone in to the library originally to see if they might like to stock some of my art cards in their shop, but they were SO enthusiastic about my work and I was SO enthusiastic about their books, that our ideas grew into a painting project 🙂 

This collaboration celebrates the importance of the Portico library as a home of

literature, history and learning.

In September this year the paintings will be displayed in the library, and on September 14th there will be an evening event ‘Spine[less]: Rebinding The Portico’ where there will be presentations from the Portico’s Collections Manager and from myself 🙂

You can book tickets for the event here: https://www.theportico.org.uk/event-calendar/spineless-rebinding-event

From Thursday 12th October 2023 – Friday 26th January 2024, the paintings will be part of an exhibition in the library promoting the Portico’s Adopt-a-Book scheme, highlighting the importance of preservation, restoration and the need for rebinding books. Members of the library are invited to Adopt-a-Book and pay for it to be rebound: to be brought back into use: to be reborn! The finished paintings will be for sale,with 25% of the sale price going to the Portico Library 🙂 

In progress in my studio at the moment are the two Portico paintings: one of a shelfful of the exposed ‘spineless’ books, and another of a collection of ornately bound books from the Portico’s collection. It is such a joy to delicately translate these ornate and battered spines into paint across the canvas, relishing all the little handwritten details and worn edges. 

I can’t wait to unveil the finished, framed paintings at the library when we set up the display next week!!

You can find out more about the Portico Library and their Adopt-a-Book scheme:



…and more about me here: https://roowaterhouse.art/about-roo-waterhouse-shelf-portrait-artist/