Sunday, 10 September 2017

Castles and Others...

In 1977 I mounted my first exhibition of 'Castles' held at Woodlands Art Gallery, Blackheath, entitled 'Castles and Others', it also included other buildings in the picturesque tradition.

For the previous 3 years I had toured the country in search of likely subjects. My first discovery was Caernarfon Castle in North Wales.

Caernarfon Castle 1975, oil (sold).

From the top of a medieval wall tower I managed to paint a small oil panel in the midst of difficult circumstances. In the face of a howling wind I was only able to work by stuffing coconut matting into the battlements. Despite the hostile conditions the painting turned out better than I expected partly due to my enjoyment of the symphony of slate grey rooftops surrounding the castle. It was subsequently bought by The Landmark Trust who owned the property and hung it in a room below my rooftop painting perch. 

Then followed drives to Scotney Castle ...

Scotney Castle, Kent (sold).

Saltwood Castle...
Saltwood Castle, Kent 1976 oil on panel (sold). 

and Lauriston Castle near Edinburgh...

Lauriston Castle, 1977, oil on panel (sold).

My nearest subject was the towering landmark at Shooters Hill, Severndroog Castle, built to commemorate a victory on the Malivar Coast in 1735. Severndroog Castle also acted as a beacon for Thames shipping such was its height.

Severndroog Castle, Shooters Hill, oil on panel approx. 18" x 14", £375.

These paintings are romantic in spirit and owed much to the history and myths surrounding these fortresses. In past centuries artists had enjoyed a close affinity with literature and this produced a rich cross fertilization, very obvious in the painters I most admired such as Thomas Girtin and Turner. By the mid 20th century new developments moved rapidly away from this happy relationship. I personally found these later movements ultimately lacking in depth.

My fascination for Girtin subject matter has also remained constant e.g. river scenes, particularly the Thames, woodland glades, city vistas and also the occasional one house on the edge of a moor! Visionary in mood these latter are painted always from memory from a bank of images many decades old. Although mystery surrounds these isolated dwellings they remain a welcome sight for the weary traveller.

Bishops Palace, Durham 1974 (sold).

Highland Scene with Unidentified Castle, 1978, oil on panel (sold).

Eynesford Castle Kent 2000 £200.

Rochester Castle, from the Cathedral Close, oil on panel (sold).

Built in the early 1700's I have long been impressed by Vanbrugh Castle, high on the skyline overlooking Greenwich Park in South East London.

Vanbrugh Castle, a Winter Scene, 2005, oil on canvas 11.5" x 11.5" £450.

Beginning a medium sized oil of this subject 3 months ago I have just this week completed it. I was surprised at how Gothic in appearance it turned out with a mood of low keyed pervading mystery!

Vanbrugh Castle, a Gothic fantasy, 2017, oil on canvas 24" x 30" £950. 

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