34” x 25” (86 x 63 cm) / Acrylic on gessoed panel / £7500
I have often painted and drawn this scene in the Stonor Valley, in Oxfordshire, returning to it again and again. Down the years, I’ve watched the building deteriorate, gradually collapsing in on itself. It's sturdy though. The timbers, as usual, lead the decline. The brickwork is still sound and has many more winters in it yet I fancy. Inside, although the ghosts have fled, there’s still signs of the building’s original purpose.
An old water pump lies seized-up and solid, its weight slowly digging its own grave. In its day, a war or two back, the building was the pump house for a nearby isolation hospital. The hospital’s long gone. The local red kites are regular visitors, taking anything fallen. In some years, when it feels like it, the tree behind the building blossoms white, cheering everything up. In springtime, I’m often not the only onlooker. The field itself becomes a carpet of yellow cowslips stopping passers-by in their tracks.
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About the process
I live by the rule, when you’re painting you’re not only making art, you’re making furniture. I use the finest light-fast oil, acrylic and watercolour paints, and work on hardboard. If you don’t damage, burn or submerge the paintings, they should last 1000 years. If they don’t, well, get back to me.