Friday, August 1, 2008

The Brotherhood of the Ruralists

This is a group of several painters who came together in 1975 and founded the Brotherhood of Ruralists in Wellow, which is not too far from a favourite place of mine, Stoney Littleton longbarrow. They painted the Wiltshire countryside, amongst other things, in a stylised and romantic vision, following in the footsteps of the Pre-raphaelites.

The Station House at Wellow which they bought in 1975 in a derelict state, now it is a family home, though the station verandah can still be seen.

Now both styles of art are an acquired taste, the voluptuous red-hair females of Rossetti and Morris enmeshed in historical fantasy, are a 19th century adaption of the highly idealised style of that century. The Ruralists on the other hand create a misty visionary art style, but also there is that clear cut lines of almost surreal images.

This for instance is David Inshaw's Standing Stones,

They are the stones in the Avenue at Avebury, and he has captured the sexual connotations of the male and female stones, the 'male' stone falling neatly between two 'female' stones. His other works (to be included in the later exhibition at Victoria Gallery - Bath are;

Silbury Hill on a Starry Night
Owl and Silbury;
Portrait of Silbury Hill;

As will the work of Graham Ovendon; a painting and a drawing entitled 'Sentinels of Silbury Hill'

Graham Arnold on the other hand (no illustration here,) paints a vivid scene of Found Objects , such things as we like to display on a shelf. Here a vase of bright red poppies, a conch shell, quill pens in an old victorian bottle displayed against a black background, but to the left of the composition a window on a megalithic structure - a quoit - for they also lived in Cornwall, home to these megalithic mushroom stones that are so much part of the countryside. Arnold's work has caught the serenity of the Wiltshire countryside, with the following painting;-

Earthwork at Maiden Castle;
Dragon Hill, Uffington;
The White Horse (Uffington);
The White Horse, Alton barnes;
His wife, paints in a different style,

but do not think that you are looking at a unicorn placed so serenely in its enclosure backed by a rock. For this is a donkey and the painting is based on a real hill in Shropshire, where the Arnolds lived, and they allowed it to become a sanctuary for wild animals. Two donkeys also lived on this hill, so dreamy notions of chaste white unicorns must be subverted into a rather awkwardly placed donkey in a very small space - though safe in its sanctuary, the space is very small in the wilderness.

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