Saturday, 19 January 2019

St Botolph, Helpston

The bf stayed with me for a week just before I moved.  In fact the final full day of his stay was dominated by the house sale.  However earlier in the week, when things were a little less hectic, I took him to the village of Helpston in the Soke of Peterborough and John Clare Cottage.  It was my second visit and his first. For those who don't know the cottage in question was the birthplace and sometime residence of the 'peasant poet' John Clare (1793-1846) It is a delight; there is the cottage itself (an atmospheric museum), charming garden and contemporary, but being built like a barn in no way intrusive, visitor centre.  It really is worth a visit.  On the other side of the village High St, and the John Clare memorial designed by, is the small parish church dedicated to St Botolph, with, in the graveyard, the burial place of the John Clare.  I love the archway into the graveyard! The most distinctive part of the church is the octagonal west tower and spire.  The interior is, to be honest al ittle dull.  However its setting is all very picturesque: the former vicarage to the south and a number of beautiful houses clustered around all built of the local oolitic limestone.  In all a rather lovely village on the edge of the limestone belt, spoilt alas by the all too intrusive 20th century.  Apologies for the low number of photos - more will follow - but we're kinda chaotic here for the time being!

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Own work: The Rustiche of Sebastiano Serlio XXV

Another arch complete!  Somewhat dark and brooding this one. With only more five to go the end is in sight!!

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Own work: The Rustiche of Sebastiano Serlio XXIII

Well, it really has been a while since I posted anything. To be truthful it's been just over two months.  A lot has happened since then:  I have moved across the country to Wales and set up home with the bf and I have an exhibition, my first, on at Gallery Stamford running until Jan 15th.  Painting, as well as blogging, has taken a backseat.  However I am slowly getting back into the swing of things.  My latest work is from my continuing series of arches from Sebastiano Serlio's 'Extraordinario Libro'. I  have reached Arch XXIII. The format remains the same; mixed media on cold pressed 300 gsm watercolour paper, 34.5 24.5 cms.

As it's only the 5th Day of Christmas I can still wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

St Mary, Stamford

The fourth in my occasional series on the medieval churches of Stamford, and I ought, immediately, to lay my cards upon the table.  This is my favourite church in Stamford; not so much for the architecture - I think the best over all church is St Michael's - but because it belongs to the Anglican tradition I find the most comfortable, Anglo-Catholicism.
Not that the architecture of St Mary's is in any way substandard.  The tower (EE) and spire (Dec) are quite superb, helped by its position rising abruptly from the street at the crest of St Mary's Hill.  They look wonderful from any angle but the view from below, say standing on the Town Bridge is imposing. Perhaps St Mary's is perhaps the most urban of all the churches in Stamford for it has no graveyard on its n side, and the one it has is small and surrounded by tall and architecturally significant buildings.  A delightful spot, St Mary's Place.
The interior also possesses that less tangible, not so easy to achieve quality of the numinous - something my photographs singularly fail to capture. (Alas!) Clutter is, thankfully, down to a minimum, but is always something to be on one's guard against. The fittings contribute enormously to this sense of the sacred for they are mainly the design of a great Arts and Crafts master, the now largely forgotten, John Dando Sedding. The rood screen, alas unfinished, the parclose screens and choir stalls ,and the High Altar are all by him, as is the decoration of the chancel roof.  The quality of the work is excellent.  The church had already by then undergone a series of 19th century restorations including one by Edward Browning, 'restoring' the chancel in 1860 and installing the present e window and ceiling.  To the n of the chancel is the 'Golden Chapel' with a wooden barrel vault given by William Hikham and his wife in the early 1480s, at the time when the church was undergoing an extensive rebuild in the Perp style. The chapel, I think, may have belonged to the Guild of the Corpus Christi, though the Guild of St Mary was based in the church too and Hikman was a member of the Guild of St Katherine.  The font is sadly rather tucked away in a corner near the s door, but I presume its position would make perfect sense if the main entrance was still the s porch and not the north door.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Own work: Live Drawing LV

This time last week I was busy getting ready to go on pilgrimage to Walsingham.  Now, surrounded by the confusion of selling my house and preparing to move to Wales, it seems all together a different life.  However I did take time on Thursday to head back to the life drawing studio.  A welcome distraction it proved. (So if the post get even more sparse and erratic, forgive me.)  Anyhow this is what I managed to come up with in the way of drawing.  Not too bad under the circumstances (I am a proper fully fledged 'stress-monkey' and am finding the whole process somewhat difficult).

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Bryan Browning: Grant's Iron Foundry

Another in my occasional series highlight the work of that excellent local architect Bryan Browning (1755 - 1856) the great portal to the former Grant's Iron Foundry.  What a powerful piece of architecture it is combining the English Baroque school of Vanbrugh and visionary French Neo-classicism of, say, Ledoux.  Heady stuff.  A Heroic, Romantic celebration of industrial power. It was built in 1845, the contractors being Gregory and Tinkler.  A late example, then, of Georgian architecture.  For a while it was part of Blashfield's terracotta works.  At some point in the 20th century it was painted grey and white, possibly when it was owned by Chas Grey. In the last few years it has been incorporated into a new residential development.  Sad to say that this conversion has not been handled with quite enough sensitivity.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

St John the Baptist, North Luffenham

I've probably said this before, at some time, on this blog, but I love this time of year -  transient, slightly melancholic, the soft sunny days of early autumn are to be savoured.  Yesterday was a fine example of one. A appeared, as planned, and we went into Rutland and the attractive limestone village of North Luffenham.  A more work-a-day place than some other villages in the county I could mention.  Perhaps more intrusion of Modernity too - thankfully the primary school is mostly screened from view by some ancient stone walls. The 'forecourt' that is shared by the school and the parish church is a prime example of how Modernism creates uneasy and meaningless public spaces. What is it meant to be?  Car park? Graveyard?  There were headstones.  So perhaps the latter.  This sense of dis-ease continued into the churchyard proper.  All for want of a proper boundary that would separate the sacred from the profane
Anyway to the church.  A fine building it is. A really liked the spire, and it is a satisfying design.  The church is long and low, the chancel a Victorian rebuild by G E Street of all people.  The interior is sadly a disappointment - oh the architecture is excellent enough - lovely Early English arcades with that rare thing, remains of the medieval painting - but the church is rather, and unnecessarily, dark having been scrapped and ribbon-pointed (Street again) and it is full of modern clutter. Certainly the church came off worse against Street by two falls and a submission but Street's victory is pyrrhic.  'Unappealing' says Pevsner and unappealing it is. The secular has stolen inside and there are boards for this and that and the whole thing is a visual mess and a terrible distraction form the numinous. It makes we wonder whether those responsible actually believe in the latter at all, and whether all the guff is a way of simply filling the vacuum. I've written in similar vein before I know.  My rant about the mess they've made of Oundle church springs to mind, and I suspect that this blog post repeats my sense of frustration, despair and loss. The house of God deserves better. There needs to be a great purge.
Perhaps I ought to stick with those things which are a delight, and there a number which need highlighting.  As I said there are the arcades - check out the capitals and the strange primitive faces that people the architecture (there are some fine Victorian ones too on the outside of the chancel).  inside the chancel has a fine Dec. sedillia some nice a memorial tablets, a riot of encaustic tiling (Street's best contribution, but still somehow inappropriate) and a good brass chandelier.
It is a building I dearly want to like, but I feel alienated by how it has been treated.