The story so far by Jill

Published 25 February 2014

There is always a story behind a painting and this is the story behind the artist.

The Back Street, Trawden, Lancashire
After the Storm

My life with Colin has been an adventure, starting a long time ago when he was a student in London at  Hornsey College of Art and I at eighteen moved there to be with him.  I found work easily and weekends were spent lounging, sauntering the streets and parks and talking about everything we saw. During those walks I learnt to look at things from a different angle, a bend in the road, perspectives, the spaces between objects. Having considered myself no good at drawing or painting I listened and learned to see beyond the obvious and I began to understand, but I never took up a brush to carry it further.

Years passed and our time was occupied with more urgent things like earning money to keep a growing family but Colin’s need to paint never disappeared. During his years at the college he took advantage of the space and time to do sculpture and to make pots. He learnt from the technical assistants at college how to stretch his own canvasses and to prime them using stinking rabbit skin glue heated on an old camping gas stove and then to coat them with a chalk based ground. He sourced all the basic ingredients from local hardware stores and used  Cornellisen’s in Great Russell St. London to buy canvas. That was/is a magical shop, full to the brim with everything an artist would need. Another shop he used was Russell and Chapel.

We moved out of London to the midlands and then to Lancashire where we stayed for 16 years while the children were at school and then we moved to southern France. It was at the time when the idea of making a go of things abroad was a new trend. We cut all ties with the UK, sold up and put our faith in doing it ourselves. Literally buying an old stone ruin. Roof to basement needed attention and we did it. We borrowed muscle from male friends for the really heavy lifting of roof timbers but the rest was us and the children when they showed up during holidays. No swanning by a blue pool and sipping wine, not then anyway!

During all those years Colin sketched and painted and we have files of sketch books showing glimpses of the family and cats. The painted canvases stacked up. His studio, at first, was part of the roof space and we lived with the smell of turps.
I like to write and I have kept a diary of our life. I stumble on those tatty books occasionally and pull one out to remind me of what we were doing and I am surprised by some of the things as they have faded from our memories.

In 2006 we had dreams of building a pool and at the same time we wanted to build a garage alongside the pump room. By 2008 we had finished the pool and garage and had also constructed Colin's studio above the garage with plenty of space and light and a stove to warm him in winter, a place for people to visit.

We created two self-catering gîtes and have welcomed hundreds of people over the years. Many have shown an interest in Colin’s paintings and have become patrons of his work. A lot of our guests return and have become good friends.

There is always a story behind a work of art as there is a history to human friendship which lasts many years.

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