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The Gnome Reserve in Devon explained by Ann Atkin

Updated on November 11, 2012

Ann Atkin of the Gnome Reserve interviewed

Many years ago when I used to write for Magic Saucer (Junior UFO News) magazine I found out about the Gnome Reserve and its founder Ann Atkin. Ann's home for gnomes in Devon is still going strong and I thought it would make an interesting interview for hubpages if I asked her about it all.

So here is an interview with Ann Atkin, who is also a talented artist:

Ann Atkin's artwork

Passing a Pearl by Ann Atkin
Passing a Pearl by Ann Atkin
Pearl Fairy by Ann Atkin
Pearl Fairy by Ann Atkin
3 Fairies Over Water by Ann Atkin
3 Fairies Over Water by Ann Atkin

Introduction to Ann Atkin and the Gnome Reserve

Please introduce yourself to my readers here.

My father was a captain in the Royal Navy who fought in both world wars. When I was a little girl I used to sit on his knees and together we coloured a book of line drawing illustrations of nursery stories… The one I remember vividly – as if it were yesterday – had a child and her bed with a bedspread made of many little squares…These squares we painted in ‘every’ colour… We took turns to choose a colour in my father’s wooden paint box - which had two rows of square white watercolour containers filled with wonderful colours – and then we painted in a square. It was all so creative and magical to me that .I was ‘hooked’ on painting and have ‘never stopped’ since.

After I left school I spent 4 years at Brighton College of Art (NDD painting) and then a further 3 years at The Royal Academy Schools in London.(where I won prizes for landscape painting and the Fred Elwell Still Life painting prize) Cert: RASA painting.

A few years after this while painting birds in landscapes I came to what was like a T Junction in my painting development. I did not know whether to turn left or right as different elements of what I liked in painting appeared irreconcilably in opposite directions. It was very disturbing! Until – one day – a gnome appeared in my mind and seemed to say: ‘Don’t go left; don’t go right; you must dig / build your own road straight across.’

What do gnomes mean to you?

Gnomes have headgear the shape of the Cosmic cone. As I now see it, the base of the cone is planet earth… the tip of the cone is way out at the centre of our galaxy – from where ‘in the beginning’ we all come and where everything was / is pure energy.

I painted pure energy paintings composed of literally hundreds of tiny interlocking shapes forming, moving and relating to each other – a bit like a pictorial equivalent of musical notes.

It was such a wonderful experience - I wanted both to develop my painting AND to share gnomes with other people – and so in 1979 The Gnome Reserve was born.

Please say a bit about the Gnome Reserve.

Since 1979 The Gnome Reserve has been on TV over 70 times in the UK and abroad; too many times to count in newspapers, magazines and books and on radio. It is a magical 4 acres – most of the Gnomes live in a beautiful beech-wood with stream running through and sunlight dappling through the leaves onto mosses and bluebells and the gnomes below.

We optionally loan visitors gnome hats so the gnomes think they are one of them and people can get good photos for the family album. Age doesn’t matter…if you are three, thirty three and ninety three you can still be a gnome and leave behind any cares or worries of everyday life and go into the Reserve with the eyes of a child seeing the wonder and the beauty of nature as if for the first time. There is a lot of laughter too.

Please say a bit about your artwork.

33 years later I’m still painting some pure energy paintings but also landscapes inhabited sometimes with gnomes, most often with fairies and sometimes with angels…but the landscapes are made of the same pure energy moving into forms …people very kindly say that they are instantly recognisable as my work.

I’ve exhibited and sold in solo, joint and group exhibitions and I also sell easily affordable limited edition signed prints of them at my little gallery at The Gnome Reserve and Wildflower Garden. It is a wonderful pleasure each and every time an adult or a child takes one to hang in their home….and many do mostly every day….I am indeed a fortunate artist!

The Gnome Reserve

And finally

Anything else you would like to add?

The Reserve is in the Guinness Book of Records…the largest ‘collection’ of gnomes and pixies in the world. It was nominated by Stephen Pile in The Daily Telegraph for The Turner prize

The other 2 acres is the Wildflower Garden, a little paradise filled with hundreds of wild flowers, herbs, grasses and ferns – with butterflies and birds /bird song.

A warm welcome awaits you if you are in North Devon – and my daughter-in-law makes delicious home made cream teas and cakes!

Thank you to the Bard of Ely for putting this in his hub-pages.

Copyright © 2011 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.


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    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank YOU for posting, Jalus!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This must be such a magical place for children - of all ages. If I ever make it out that way I will certainly stop by. Thanks

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you for posting your comments, Marie! I agree with you!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have the privilege of knowing both Ann and The Gnome Reserve personally... Anne's work I find quite enchanting and the Gnome Reserve a very magical place - I believe that everyone should at at least once in their life visit it.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I am very glad to hear it!

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      8 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Bard, fantastic. Thank you for sharing. I loved the video.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Poetvix!

    • poetvix profile image


      8 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      This is wonderful. Thank you for the introduction to a real life fairytale setting where fantasy is allowed to co-exist with reality. What a beautiful place and person you feature here. Well done indeed.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank YOU, SW, for your comments!

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 

      8 years ago from Isle of Man

      A well written hub with a great message.Thank you.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Sembj and Jayjay40!

    • jayjay40 profile image


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks for introducing us to a very tallented artist, her work is so beautiful. A lovely hub on an unusual subject. I have rated it up

    • Sembj profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Hub with an amazing video - I viewed it before either watching or listening to the news first thing - a great beginning to the day. Thanks

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I am glad you were interested! Thanks for posting!

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I would have never known or guessed such a place existed. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Eiddwen! Enjoy the video!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      What a great hub and I loved it !!!

      I have bookmarked as I want to come back later to watch all of the video clip. I don't have the time to watch it properly at the moment. However I have had a quick peep and I can't wait !!!!

      I find this one fascinating and I am pushing all the buttons as well.

      Thanks for sharing and take care.


    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you for your posts, Darski and Adele!

    • AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

      Adele Cosgrove-Bray 

      8 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

      I first saw the gnome reserve in a magazine article years ago; great fun!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      There you are my music man, this is very interesting, I believe in garden fairies. Isn't wonderful to have such a sweet and Innocent heart, full of joy and fairy tales. Love your hub, rate up, love & peace darski


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