I first visited the Weald & Downland open air museum at Singleton in October 1993, to work on a long term project during the second year of my Degree.
I instantly connected with the fascinating architecture and how it sat perfectly in its surroundings. Each building was a work of art, steeped in wonderful historic techniques and styles. The time of year added to the initial splendour – a dark, some might say gloomy month, the daylight failing very quickly after 3pm. This, however, added to the atmosphere.
The fires were lit, the shafts of light struggling through the tiny windows, cast interesting shadows, revealing only some selected elements of the rooms inside. I needed to spend quite some time inside the houses, soaking up the atmosphere. The smell of the fires got into my clothes and remained there for many hours after leaving!
I was so cold that upon returning to College I complained of what appeared to be the somewhat rushed crudity apparent in many of my sketches. “This is exactly what is so special and honest about the work”, I was cheerfully informed by my tutor. “You can feel the cold in these pictures just by looking at them”.
Such a long time ago now, since I painted those pictures, surrounded by the cold and the ruddy Autumn colours which perfectly framed those charming houses in their raw rural settings.
I have returned many times to the Museum, but it was not until 2013 that I decided to execute a new raft of drawings, primarily using ink to begin with. This was not only to compliment the previous work I had carried out, but also to mark how the 20 year timeline had changed my perceptions of the Museum, and my changes in style during that time.
This work will ultimately be a lifelong, and progressive project. I recently showed some illustrations to several of the Team at the Museum, and have been given the contact details of the Curator, and also some other avenues to explore with regards to exhibiting my work and setting up a trade table for various planned events at the Museum throughout the year.
As the work on the Museum continues, please watch this space for progress!