The excitement for me as an artist lies not in exploring the unknown but in how I can effectively organise a visual arrangement that reflects the atmosphere and intensity of an environment, evoking a precise moment of the day under specific light and conditions. I hope you enjoy the work
Feature of the week 18/11/2018
Bungalow in Summertime
The year 1974 seems a long time ago now. I had already lived in London for two years with my then boyfriend, a fine art student at Wimbledon Art School. During the summers we would decamp to our hometown of Newcastle-under-Lyme on a motorbike he owned, a red Honda 50 Sports on which I loved riding pillion. On summer evenings we would wander around the countryside of Newcastle and Stoke-on-Trent, stopping occasionally for a drink at a country inn. Sitting there we would savour the contrast between our new, busy lifestyles in London and the peaceful country lanes we travelled… Honda 50s, even sports models, don’t drive very fast.
At the time I was immersed in reading Thomas Hardy and Dusky Ruth by A. E. Coppard, which added to the dreamy atmosphere we encountered in villages like Whitmoore, Woore and Pipe Gate where my dad had lived as a child, and as we meandered, I often thought of the Sunday afternoon bus rides as a child with my parents, feeling privileged now that I was mobile and able to explore the surrounding countryside at will.
On one evening whilst riding pillion I was taken aback to see a suburban looking bungalow in the middle of a field, it looked completely out of place and I asked to stop in order to take a photo, making a couple of quick sketches. It reminded me of the bungalow my great uncle lived in where the stuffiness of the heavy oak furniture seemed out of scale in the small rooms. I recall spending Sunday afternoons there, sipping tea with the clock ticking away for what seemed like an eternity; it chimed regularly every 15 minutes. Due to this I had developed a prejudice against what I saw as ‘bungalow culture’, completely unjustified I might add as I now realise, with my friends and contemporaries increasingly developing knee and hip problems!
That same summer I visited Abergele, North Wales, where my boyfriend’s grandparents had retired. They lived in a modern bungalow in a suburban avenue close to the coast, and this was to my mind the right location for a bungalow. We travelled on the bike, a long journey for a Honda 50, and while there I was happy to visit the seaside amusement park at Rhyl. It was here I was persuaded, against my better judgement, onto a fairground ride called ‘The Mad Mouse’. Despite a life long fascination with the colour and atmosphere of funfairs I have never really been attracted to the fast moving, topsy-turvy, action rides, and this one brought on such a chaotic confused sensation I was convinced I was about to die. Of course, as I had been riding pillion I was under the illusion that I had become accustomed to the effects of speed, sound and the rushing of movement, but here as I was suffering and I recall praying for the horizon to re-establish itself.
This is how the background behind the small bungalow situated in the middle of the country gained its blue strip of sea, establishing it firmly on the ground with a horizontal plumb line to its rear. I had executed a precise detailed drawing of the bungalow but, when it came to painting it the following year, I fused the two memories together, deciding to break with my usual practice when recording a location.
Anyhow, it would probably be impossible to find this bungalow again as the whole area has been built upon and, if it is still exists today it is probably surrounded by a housing estate. I am happy to write that my boyfriend is still a very good friend and a practicing artist, his daughter now studying BA illustration. The Honda 50 Sports is sadly no more though, having been replaced by a Mazda Sports car!