At Birchall Tea, it always fascinates us how artists look to capture the same environments in different and alluring ways. The Cotswolds offer some of England’s best countryside and picture perfect villages; it is no surprise then that it has inspired artists for centuries and continues to do so. Jeremy Houghton is an acclaimed English artists based out of his home village of Broadway in the Cotswolds. We shared a pot of tea with Jeremy to discuss the Cotswolds and how it inspires his fabulous work.
“There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t see something that makes me stop, and reminds me how lucky I am to live here.”
What is it about the Cotswolds that makes you happy to call it home?
I feel very at home in the Cotswolds as I was born in Broadway, in the house that I now live and work in. So it’s a place that I know very well and that I am very fond of. I like the fact that whilst the village has been there for centuries it has always been a dynamic little place, embracing visitors from around the world. Because of its North Cotswold setting it has also had many artists over the years that have been inspired by the place. Well-known names such as John Singer Sargent, Henry James, Frank Millet, Capability Brown, William Morris, JM Barrie and Edwin Elgar have all had lengthy stays in the village and it is well documented how much they enjoyed the village’s charm. So it’s a great honour and responsibility for me to be a contemporary artist now maintaining the artistic values of this village.
How is your work inspired by your surroundings in the Cotswolds?
My grandfather was the village doctor in Broadway for 50 years, before, during and after the Second World War. Whilst visiting houses and patients he liked to collect old photographs of the neighbourhood. I now have these albums of photos and I find them and their subject matter very inspiring. So I try and make my paintings look like old photos and negatives which I think gives them a feeling of timelessness. And I often paint pictures of rural past times, which also evoke a feeling of nostalgia. The countryside moves at a slower pace than its urban neighbours so in and around Broadway there are many sites and past times that inspire me. The high street, the kennels, Broadway Tower, st Eadburgha’s church, the farming, the sport, the fields, the woods and the wildlife. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t see something that makes me stop, and reminds me how lucky I am to live here.
What do you try to capture most in your work?
The themes that I play with when creating works of art are light, space, transience and change. These concepts allow me to experiment with many types of medium and subject matter. Along with my monochromatic paintings, which allude to old photography, I have also produced a series of paintings that study flight. I started doing these when I ran the art school in Cape Town. Whilst living there for six years I travelled extensively around Africa and it was the flamingos that caught my eye. You never see one bird; you see endlessly changing light and space, creating shapes of tone and form, which are always in flux. It is thanks to these flight studies that I have learnt to paint movement, which has resulted in me being the official artist at some pretty exciting sporting events around the world, as well as back at home in the Cotswolds.
To learn more about Jeremy and view his work, visit his site www.jeremyhoughton.co.uk