April 20, 2008

Church Paintings in the Cloisters

Filed under: Art and Drawings — sarah @ 1:32 pm

Last weekend I went to an art exhibition in the cloisters at Gloucester cathedral. The paintings were of parish churches in the area and were lovely clear watercolours with some well-defined outlines in what looked to me like fineliner pen.

Some of the paintings were on sale to raise money for the parish the church in each picture belonged to. The exhibit unfortunately only ran from April 05 2008 to April 12 2008. The artist himself died last year at 89, his name was Alec Brown and he lived in my home village.

The paintings were part of a monumental task he had set himself of painting every church in the Gloucestershire diocese. He got about over halfway with something like 240 paintings out of over 400 subjects/churches. Apart from this project he painted over 2000 pictures – mostly of churches!

To me the pictures held a sort of enchantment, linked with the fact they seemed somehow reminiscent of my field sketches for my undergraduate course, which was in geology. There seemed to be something so crisp and defined in them, bringing out the detail which probably was not all that evident in real life. They looked like the paintings of an engineer or scientist to me. Most of them also had a very flat view as if you were looking at them straight on rather than from a slanted angle. This is something my friend Ella (who is a fantastic photographer) is always telling me makes a good photograph – it appears to also make for good paintings of picturesque churches in the darkest reaches of the British countryside.

I did discover that the artist had indeed been a surveyor and that he did not start painting watercolours until he retired which, considering the accuracy and beauty of the pictures, is absolutely amazing!

I have to confess though that the subject matter was not one that I would feel inclined to hang on my walls, but I would send them on postcards and greetings cards to people. Alec seems to have had the same thing in mind and sold these sorts of things to raise money for various charities. In fact, he had sold over a million prints of his pictures to raise money for various causes and as a result was awarded an MBE.

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