Artist’s Notes

PEMBRIDGE

Painted in 1995

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Part of the ‘Black & White Trail’ in Herefordshire. Visitors, from the New World particularly, are curious to know why this 14th century pub is known as the ‘New Inn’. I’ve painted several views of it.

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ST. DAVID’S CATHEDRAL (Interior)

Painted in 2009

St. David's Cathedral (interior) - © Alan Percy Walker

An artist named John Scarlett Davis, born in Leominster in 1804, & whose work was well regarded around not just Britain, but Europe generally, was one day painting a gallery interior at Harewood House, and struggling with the perspective, when he met by chance J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) who was staying at the house. Turner was Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. Scarlett Davis’s problems might have been quickly resolved by that chance encounter, but he would not have been the only artist to struggle with interiors. Turner is said to have spoken highly of his work. Shortly after the death of Scarlett Davis in 1845 a private collection of 489 pieces of his work was put up for sale at Christies, London – the highest price reached was for his painting of St. Peter’s, Rome – an interior.

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LANDSCAPE NEAR LLANYMYNECH

Painted in 2004

Landscape from Llanymynech

The foreground is England, the horizon is Wales. Here is an example of how a single tree can become the subject of a painting.

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FIGURE AMONGST FERNS

Painted in 1974

Girl Amongst Ferns - Alan Percy Walker

My early figurative work was rather fanciful!

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PORTMEIRION

Painted in 1995

Portmeirion - Alan Percy Walker

A village by Sir Bertram Cough Williams Ellis – an example of how an architect can arrange a landscape, making the artist’s chore of composition very easy indeed.

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BORTH IN 1953

Painted in 2008

Borth in 1953 - Alan Percy Walker - Limited Edition Print of a Watercolour Painting

In 2008, in preparation for a painting, I had started a drawing of Borth, when my friend Dr. Nancy Kirk, a lecturer in geology at Aberystwyth, told me she had taken photographs of the same stretch of beach in 1953. Kindly she gave me copies and, systematically I erased every building & feature I had drawn which did not appear in the photographs, thus leaving me with a representation of Borth as Nancy had seen it over half-a-century earlier. The washing drying on the line gives it movement I think.

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TREES IN THE MIST

Trees in the Mist

Usually I do not use much body-colour but this painting, totally of the imagination, is largely in gouache.

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BUCKINGHAM UNIVERISTY ¦
THE EUROPEAN SCHOL OF ECONOMICS, GROSVENOR SQUARE, LONDON

Painted in 2009 COMMISSIONED

Buckingham University. The European School of Economics, Grosvenor Square, London.

This pen & ink drawing is one of a dozen or more commissioned by Buckingham University for use in a prospectus. A few of the drawings also appeared in the Daily Telegraph. Unusually, for this age perhaps, I use a ‘dip & scratch’ pen, a brush, & a bottle of Indian Ink.

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THE GLASGOW CLIPPER ¦
ROUND THE WORLD RACE 2009

Painted in 2010 COMMISSIONED

Round the World Race 2009

Most of my paintings of individual boats & ships at sea have been commissioned. Details of the vessels concerned come to me in a variety of forms: some ships have long since been broken up, so I am given photographic references obtained from museums or company records; some references are little more than a collection of old holiday snaps; some boats are still available for me to see, often resting idly, tied to a harbour buoy somewhere and I must take them to a sea of my own imagination. I have never seen the ‘Glasgow Clipper’, but I was shown a DVD of her in action, then on my drawing board, I took her round Cape Horn.

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ABERYSTWYTH FROM CONSTITUTION HILL

Painted in 1999

Aberystwyth from Constitution Hill - Watercolour Painting - Alan Percy Walker

The hill is known for its Camera Obscura, its Cliff Railway, and its excellent view of the town. This is a painting produced specifically for prints of the town to be available by the year 2000. I worked on it through the autumn of 1999 and the last time I climbed the hill for that purpose was toward the end of November 1999. It was a bright sunny day, but freezing cold. There is a café at the top which usually closes in winter, but it had opened to provide food & drink for a film crew. I took advantage of the special arrangement & was soon told that they too were perishing cold, particularly the actors because they were filming a scene ‘in summertime’. The actors were all dressed in light summer clothes. As I left I noticed a supply of freshly filled hot-water bottles being handed around amongst them.

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THE MARINA, ABERYSTWYTH

Painted in 1995

Aberystwyth MarinaWatercolour Painting - Alan Percy Walker

I produced a series of panoramic paintings such as this over the years – I enjoyed doing them; perspective was more of a challenge, the foregrounds particularly required special diligence.

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OLD HARBOUR, ABERYSTWYTH

Painted in 1994

Aberystwyth Old Harbour - Watercolour Painting - Alan Percy Walker

This was painted in 1994 when the Old Harbour was being transformed into the ‘Marina’. Furthest away in the harbour you will see one the last vessels of its size to tie-up there. It was a retired whaling ship. Clearly someone was keen to indicate disapproval of the whaling trade, for the gun which was still mounted on the prow had its harpoon bent and twisted into a very large granny-knot.

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OLD COLLEGE FROM THE SEA, ABERYSTWYTH

Painted in 2003

Old College from the Sea - Alan Percy Walker

Yes, I did leave dry land to produce this one. When we set out the sea was calm, but quite quickly it became choppy. It was not easy to draw in those circumstances, or take notes, or click a camera with any steadiness, but what I did return with, in my head mainly, was knowledge of the proportions & of what could be seen behind the façade of the college – features which could only be seen from the sea. On returning to dry land, I went along the promenade drawing the detail of each section, square-on, as a draughtsman might. The white horses are not just a fancy of mine. They did and do exist; for just beneath the surface of the sea is an extensive outcrop of rock, visible at low tide. Mariners beware.

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CORRIS & ESGAIRGEILIOG

Painted in 1996

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It’s said by some that this is where King Arthur & his knights were active. When the original of this painting went for sale I imagined it would attract only local interest, but it went to Australia I’m told.

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PLAS GLYN-Y-WEDDW, LLANBEDROG

Painted in 1995

Plas Glyn-y-Weddw - © Alan Percy Walker

Built as a dower house for a lady who collected art and possessed, it’s said, a couple of Canalettos. In the late 20th century the house became an art gallery.

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STAIRCASE AT PLAS GLYN-Y-WEDDW

Painted in 1995

Staircase at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw

Some of my work was shown here; my younger son is shown here on the stairs when he was eight years old.

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THE PRINCE OF WALES NARROW GAUGE RAILWAY

Painted in 2002

The Prince of Wales Rheidol Valley Railway - © Alan Percy Walker

When I produced a book with Sam Grigg called Country Railwaymen in 1982 – stories of the Oxford to Cambridge Line during the Age of Steam – I had plenty of practice drawing railway engines. I learned that enthusiasts are sticklers for detail, you must be right about the number of rivets, or your efforts are condemned as ‘rubbish’.

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THE BARBICAN, SANDWICH

Painted in 2005

Barbican, Sandwich, Kent - © Alan Percy Walker

Before the Rivers Stour & Wantsum silted up the Isle of Thanet was a ‘proper’ island, and Sandwich was an important port. At that time imports & exports were allowed legitimately to pass through this portal, so long as the duty was paid; a tariff board is screwed to the wall & makes interesting reading.

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BIRCHINGTON-ON-SEA

Painted in 2003

Birchington, Kent - © Alan Percy Walker

Another of my panoramas. The grave of Dante Gabriel Rossetti is close by the church door here.

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BLACKHEATH

Painted in 1990

Blackheath, Kent - © Alan Percy Walker

As a child I spent some of the war years at Greenwich, just down the hill from here where my great grand parents had a house. From my bedroom at the top I witnessed some of the terrible bombing of London’s East End. In the 1970s I produced quite a few paintings of Blackheath & felt a strange familiarity with the place – perhaps I had been around it a few times in a pushchair.

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FIGURE: RIGHT ARM, TORSO & LEG

Painted in 2005

Figure: Right Torso Leg and Arm - Alan Percy Walker

A monochrome vignette on tinted paper – would ideally fit a window of 8” x 2”. Drawn in sepia caran d’ache – with some watercolour.

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BLEAK HOUSE, TARTAR FRIGATE & THE HARBOUR MASTER’S OFFICE, BROADSTAIRS

Painted in 2004

Bleak House, Tartar Frigate & Harbour Master's Office - Broadstairs - © Alan Percy Walker

When Dickens lived at Bleak House it was known as Fort House and it was a much smaller residence. The Tartar Frigate is a popular harbour-side pub, and the ship lapped office on the pier is decorated with a number of maritime relics including a ship’s figure head in the form of a Scotsman. It can be a draughty corner of the coast for a man in a kilt.

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CHARTWELL

Painted in 2001

Chartwell, Kent - © Alan Percy Walker

Sir Winston Churchill had one of the garden cottages converted into a studio for himself & quite a few of his paintings are now available to been seen by visitors to Chartwell. My painting of the house is from a position close to the door of his studio.

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DOVER PARISH CHURCH

Painted in 1985

Parish Church, Dover, Kent - © Alan Percy Walker

Occupying a Roman Site St Mary’s Church was built in the twenty years following the Norman Invasion.

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FOLKESTONE HARBOUR I

Painted in 2003

Folkestone Harbour I, Kent - © Alan Percy Walker

This painting became a popular print & on one occasion resulted in my receiving a commission from Salt Lake City. The telephone caller from Utah explained that her husband had swum the English Channel & she wanted a watercolour of the fishing boat which had accompanied him from France. A few weeks later I discovered the Viking Princess tied to a buoy in the oily calm of the fishing harbour. The painting I subsequently sent off to the States showed her ploughing through cold choppy water, some 5 miles off the White Cliffs of Dover.

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GREENWICH

Painted in 2000

Greenwich, Kent - © Alan Percy Walker

Please refer to my note on Blackheath note (Nº P-0080).

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HYTHE TOWARD DYMCHURCH

Painted in 2003

Hythe toward Dymchurch, Kent - © Alan Percy Walker

Sea mists are not unusual along this stretch of shingled coast – part of it is still used by the School of Artillery, and part of it also used for resting some of Britain’s diminished fishing fleet. Two Martello Towers are just in view.

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THE ROYAL HARBOUR, RAMSGATE

Painted in 2003

Ramsgate, Kent - © Alan Percy Walker

Now mainly a crowded marina, for pleasure craft – the two period sailing ships were just ‘passing’. Ramsgate is the only ‘Royal Harbour’ in Britain, and possesses a superb Maritime Museum across the floor of which is scored the Greenwich Meridian.

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ROCHESTER CASTLE

Painted in 2000

Very much a ruin. The keep is said to be the tallest in England. I climbed it (not quite to the top) for the view of the Cathedral, – subject of the next painting.

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ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL

Painted in 2010

Founded in 604 AD, & rebuilt in 11th and 12th centuries, Rochester is the second oldest bishopric in England, after Canterbury.

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THE ARCHBSHOP’S PALACE, MAIDSTONE VIEWED ACROSS THE RIVER MEDWAY

Painted in 1998

Archbishop's Palace (river) - © Alan Percy Walker

Shortly after I painted this picture North Kent suffered some bad flooding. In a television report the waters of the Medway were shown lapping the sills of the lower windows of the palace.

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FOLKESTONE HARBOUR II

Painted in 2004

Folkestone Harbour - Alan Percy Walker

When painting this I was told the story that at the beginning of the 20th century Germany maintained a consulate at Folkestone; (it was the house at the end of terrace with the belvedere, near the centre of the skyline). Those windows provided a good view of the English Channel & an excellent place from which to log merchant shipping coming and going to and from the London Docks – said then to be the busiest in Europe. No doubt the German U-boat campaign in the First World War, to sink as much of it as possible, benefited from the information gleaned. I gather they applied to re-instate their consulate in time for the Second World War, but received a dusty answer.

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SANDWICH MARKET AND TOWN HALL

Painted in 2004

Sandwich, Kent - © Alan Percy Walker

I was in the habit, for some years, of collecting sketches of interesting figures to populate busy scenes such as this; if they are too interesting it can detract I think.

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CHRIST CHURCH GATE, CANTERBURY

Painted in 2002

Canterbury Cathedral Christ Church Gate - © Alan Percy Walker

I have to say that this painting is neither a ‘view’ nor a ‘scene’. It is an assembly of interesting & colourful heraldry.

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CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL

Painted in 2007

Canterbury Cathedral

In the grassy precinct of the Cathedral there are seats of the sort used in municipal parks. I selected one to paint this, and I could list half-a-dozen other painters of the cathedral who, before & after me, chose the same seat. Ruskin, in his writings about the choice of positions to view a subject, said that it could sometimes be a matter of precision. He recalled how artists flocked to paint the beautiful town of Fesole, Italy, and found there was just one ‘perfect’ position; a yard to the left or to the right was not good enough; sometimes there could be some ill-tempered jostling amongst the artists.

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WHITTINGTON CASTLE

Painted in 2003

Whittington Castle - Alan Percy Walker

This is Whittington in Shropshire, near Oswestry. There is little more left of the castle than I have shown here.

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LEOMINISTER OPEN MARKET

Painted in 2010

The Open Market, Leominster - Alan Percy Walker

I have to say this is an untruthful representation of the square on market day, and for a good reason. Much of the attractive architecture which surrounds the square is obscured on market days by lorries & vans. What I did to improve the scene was first to prepare my drawing of the surrounding buildings when the market was not present, then when it was, return to draw the stalls & people, leaving out the vehicles. Some manipulation was necessary on my part.

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SULGRAVE MANOR, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

Painted in 1993

Sulgrave Manor, Northamptonshire

Ancestral home of the Washington family, part of which emigrated to America and produced the first President of the United States. Needless to say perhaps, the Manor now flies the Stars & Stripes.

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CHESTER

Painted in 1996

 

[COMING SOON]

County town of Cheshire, once a port of some importance, it received city status in 1541. ‘Chester Rows’ – the famous arcaded shop fronts – are at southern side of the city. Long before, in AD 70 Chester had been the headquarters of a Roman Legion known as Deva Victrix. This painting was used in the Reeve watercolour calendar of 1998.

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THE GIN TRAP, RINGSTEAD

Painted in 1989

 

[COMING SOON]

Pub and art gallery, an excellent combination.

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FOUNTAIN OF LOVE, CLIVEDEN

Painted in 1996

Fountain of Love, Cliveden, Berkshire - Alan Percy Walker

When our children were young we had a cat which slept on a dark green rug in front of the fire. I showed the children how, by carefully painting what they could see of the rug, they would finish up with a picture of the white cat. Here in this painting I used the same principle; by painting what I saw of the trees I was left with the nymphs & cherubs.

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THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE, LONDON

Painted in 1990

The Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand

The building was begun in 1873 and opened by Queen Victoria in 1882. I was commissioned to paint this picture solely to proved prints. I started my sketches by positioning myself outside (what was) the Wig & Pen Club where it was necessary to remain both vigilant & nimble throughout to avoid being trampled by lawyers eager to quench their thirst. One of the conditions of my task was to omit the sturdy bollards & railings around the entrance to the subterranean lavatories which sprawl across the foreground.

This style of gothic is known by some as ‘monastic’ – in which one can expect symmetry either side of the main doorway & it was soon noticeable to me that something was amiss; for the two pinnacles high up on the roof were not the mirror images they should have been. One was conical, the other was truncated. The ‘Authorities’ were asked if it was to become a permanent feature. At first there was an indignant denial that anything at all was missing from the roof of The Royal Courts of Justice. Later, however, there was an explanation – in the interests of maintenance the top on one had been removed some years earlier to a masons’ yard in Essex for a copy to be made; but it had been forgotten. It was replaced sometime later.

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FIGURE: HEAD IN PROFILE, SHOULDERS & ARMS

Painted in 2008

Figure: Head and Shoulders - Alan Percy Walker

A monochrome vignette on tinted paper – the image would ideally fit a rectangle about 6” x 8”. Drawn in sepia caran d’ache with some watercolour.

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