Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Paul Nash Tate Britain Must See

My sketch of Nash's Menin Road  He painted in 1919
After our recent trip to the WW1 fields of Flanders and the Somme
Paul Nash was the perfect accompaniment.

Tate Brit has a major retrospective that runs through until March. You can see Nash’s painterly beginnings (dream like trees near Iver) on then through two wars and his surrealist journey and move into abstraction.

Equally exciting was Nash's fascination with objects on, in and above the landscape.

Living in the Chilterns, at this time of year, when, it is coming into its loveliness Nash's interpretations of trees and ground are inspiring.

The second roomful of Nash contained some of his most famous war pieces from 1916 through 1918; including Menin Road of which I made a drawing. I have had it in mind for some time to paint my version in homage and from the evidence I experienced first had six weeks prior.

Amongst these war paintings are fragments of his letters home, which speak to how he found how the landscape regenerated each spring in the Ypres Salient and his eventual despair as the conflict dragged on.

I am planning to go before the show finishes

Monday, 5 December 2016

Herts Churches: Two for one

 I have visited the remaining two churches in Hertfordshire as featured in Simon Jenkins' Thousand Best Churches.

It was a sunny day for seeing St Mary Ashwell and St George in Anstey village. Both are in the top north east of the county.

Ashwell is a big church with an impossibly huge tower.  I entered with Rosie the puppy to find a gang of ladies of the parish, busy cleaning the place. The girls stopped for their coffee and biscuits and Rosie made sure there was not a single crumb left under the pews on which they took their rest.

Ashwell also for a large light-filled chancel, rich carvings and inside the tower and graffito of old St Paul’s Cathedral in London,

Anstey is further east, on land as flat as your hand. We are close to the hollowed county of Essex at this point. The church boasts a pre-Norman font with a delightful frieze of mermen, head to tail. Quite pagan and most unusual.
Rosie hops up on the priest's church by the nave arch. Oh, that naughty puppy!

Anstey also for its cruciform layout and everywhere examples of the carver’s art, medieval choir stalls and misericords.

Merman Head to Tail

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Hope in Worcester


Again we are lucky enough to be in Worcester with good friends.

I came across this deserted warehouse, a confection of red and blue brickwork and broken windows. The building rubs shoulders with ASDA and Poundland in the St Martin's Quarter . After I had made this drawing, I got into a conversation with a photographer who was taking photos of the same building, with its bright white PVC banner proclaiming HOPE. 
It appears the building now houses a Church who meet in the building.

Planning permission was granted in June for HOPE Church to convert the former Granary in St Martin’s Quarter into a church, community centre and cafe.
Built in 1870 the derelict building, which has lay empty for years, is set to be given a new lease of life in order to provide a space that ‘serves the city’.

Richard Thomas from the HOPE Church, told the Worcester Observer:

“We want to think about what it can do for the city and we have started to explore that concept, for example, the space can be used by businesses, the art community, social services or the NHS, it is not just a church.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Wonder of Watford

The Rood Beam floats above us

Perhaps, if we had not had a Reformation, then we might have more Watford. Specifically, churches with magnificent interiors like The Church of the Holy Rood in Watford.

Even in the late 19th and the early part of the 20th century the Church of Rome was commissioning beautiful works. The Church of the Holy Rood is an excellent example.

Holy Rood was designed by Westminster Cathedral architect J. F. Bentley. It is compact, made from local materials and full of late Victorian furnishings, art. The nave is relatively plain; the chancel and side chapels are a torrent of decoration and colour. Topping it all, a rood beam that floats above us, with Christ and the two Marys, full of grace and confidence.

A full history of the church is here

Sandwiched between tower blocks and interesting shops, the bonus ball for our Holy Rood visit was discovering a delightful Lebanese restaurant a minute away down Market Street called Tarboush. Both establishments worth are a visit to refresh body and spirit.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Worcester Cathedral - full of sauce!

The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin loiters by the River Severn.

George Gilbert Scott has been here too: Worcester was extensively restored from 1857 to 1874. The Victorians loved a clear view throughout a church; consequently 17th century screens and panelling were removed from Worcester’s Choir and organ casing in 1864.

The Normans started work on this masterpiece in 1089 and what survives today is the largest Norman crypt in England. The Norman work was completed by 1170. King John was buried here in 1216, and soon afterwards rebuilding in the Early English style began, starting at the east end and moving west (Decorated). The Black Death 1348 - 1350 put a break on things. Work resumed (Perpendicular) in parts of the Nave.

Extract from my new book, English Cathedrals. Capturing the wonder of these very special places in 60 exciting drawings. Order via