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Aladdins Cave

Russell-Cotes Museum

Finding myself at a loose end over half term I booked myself and the kids into a hotel in Bournemouth for a couple of days. I wouldn’t really recommend the hotel but my main reason for being there was to visit the Russell Cotes house and gallery. It is fabulous, like the home of some wonderfully flamboyant old uncle, perhaps an immensely wealthy Monty for Withnail, who has stepped out and let you in for a wander. The house is a work of art in its own right, the couple of lived there clearly had no budget restraint and went to town, every room a homage to decorative arts. 

Russell-Cotes House
The central Hall, Hugh contemplating the morrocan influenced fountain, now bereft of goldfish.

Charles Walter Simpson

I was not familiar with this artist, but this huge  – 8 foot square – canvas is extraordinary, it’s such an incredible study of light and pattern. Looking through his body of work, he clearly was drawn to abstract light patterns, and his painting of seagulls in late evening light ‘Silver Wings’ is stunning. His paintings seem remarkably contemporary for his time.

The punt gunner by Charkes Walter Simpson 1924

Lucy Kemp Welch

Not one of my favourite artists as her subjects tend to be quite twee, but still recognised as being one of the great equine artists of the 20th century.

The Gypsy Horse Drovers 1895

 Maud Earl

I know Maud from her prolific dog portraits that adorn many a country house, but this is the first big painting I had seen of hers. A stunning composition, very unusual having cropped the deer in the foreground.

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 Henry William Banks Davis 

Sheep are such unappealing subjects to paint being lumpen shaped, idiotic and with very little expression (sorry sheep!) but here Henry Davis has made them magnificently noble and dramatic.

Approaching Thunderstorm in Picardy 1869

Munnings

Ah, Munnings, I don’t see any in the flesh for a while and fall out of love with his work. He’s a one trick pony, endlessly repeating the same composition, the paintings seem crude and slapdash. Then you see one and remember why he is so justifiably famous and revered. They are extraordinary in real life; the size, the fury of the application of the paint and the insane use of colour, yet you stand back and it all falls into a harmonious painting with an exquisite handling of flesh. 
Dod Shaw on Patrick 1912
Brushwork up close. Mental.

And the rest

We ended up spending four hours there. they have a fabulous cafe and programmes for children. This is the sort of place art should be viewed with none of the sterility of modern museums. It’s when you works like the one below that you realise this is how they were designed to be displayed, not on a white wall under harsh spotlights, look at that wallpaper!!I urge you to go and have a look, their website is pretty basic with little info but it is worth the trip. I saw paintings by Farquharson, Lavery, Landseer, Henry Moore, and many more. Here’s a few more photos – but the BBC ‘Your Paintings’ collection has a comprehensive catalogue

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Society of Equine artists

So this is for a bit of fun, but the Society of Equine Artists has opened its annual exhibtion this week, award ceremony this Sunday. These are my picks for the prize winners, not including myself obviously!!
You can see the whole exhibition online at www.equestrianartists.co.uk although the slide show is maddeningly slow. It would be much better formatted as a gallery, so it could be more easily browsed.
I’ll post the actual winners next friday!

Best drawing – “Crusader” Rebecca De Mindonca Pastel £1,900 38″x31″

I haven’t come across this artists work before, and it’s stunning, although I think the shoulder needs to merge more softly into the red background. The racing paintings on her website are fantastic, so I’m suprised they havn’t been included in the SEA exhibtion. 

Best contemporary “Irish Draft Stallion Gortfree Hero” Sara Hodson ASEA Oils £800 21″x21″

Sara has submitted a very strong trio of works. See more at
https://www.sarahodson.com/

Best Group of works by full member – “Guards” Kristine Nason SEA Pencil £580 20″x24″

Best hunting work – “Kimblewick Hunt Leaving the Full Moon” Dennis Syrett SEA PPROI RBA RSMA Oils £8,000 32″x40″

I like Frderick Haycocks work as well, also a strong contender. 

Best coloured horse (!) “Zebra” Kim Thompson Acrylic £1,800 21″x41″
This might not count being a zebra, so technically not a horse, but it’s a lovely work. Realistically Malcolm Coward will probably win. Again.

Best in show -“Seventh Wave” Rosemary Sarah Welch SEA Oils £2,200 42″x38″

Best Sculpture – “The Chaser” Amy Goodman ASEA BA(Hons) Bronze 1/8 £5,250 20″x20″x8″

Best racing work -“Headway” Michelle McCullagh SEA Oils £2,800 25″x18″
Hard one to call this, as Michelle won last year I think, but to me this one stands out. 
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New Work

Another Labrador!

Lovely big dog, who had a weird habit of ‘grinning’, cute in real life but looks like an alarming snarl in photos – I choose a more traditional pose. Another commission for two more labs has just come in, plus the big painting of a half dozen collies that I have to fit in at some stage this summer.

Jubilee commission
IS FINISHED. Thank God. There have been many stops and starts, and a fair amount of sleepless nights, but finally it worked and is on it’s way to the fabulous Christina Leder for framing. She works in an extraordinary studio, a shed on stilts under a railway arch in Parsons Green, but makes exquisite frames. It’s going to be presented in August, and I’ll update the blog with photos then. I’m afraid it has to be kept under wraps untill then.

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Highland Photos

A very productive weekend in Scotland, taking photos of some fantastic Highland Cattle, and for another commission, which will be revealed later in the year.

Very exciting, one of the real privileges of being an artist is that it grants you access to places and people that one would otherwise never meet. It really struck me this weekend how lucky I am to be aided by people who have such a passion for their work and animals, and who are happy to give up their time to help me. I learnt A LOT about Highland cattle and Highland ponies this weekend (maybe even more than necessary!) and was blessed with the most spectacular weather in the Highlands, heavy frost with glorious bright sunshine, creating a Narnia like landscape.

Thanks to all those that helped, with the animals, driving, childcare and so on. Best of all – no broken limbs this time around!