Thursday, 9 February 2017

Spring Loading

I've been looking at the work of James Bateman (1893-1959) recently, spurred on by the cover of Clive Aslet's Villages of Britain which features Bateman's probably best known painting of a Cotswold farm (above), and of which the publishers sadly only give credit to the picture library. I first saw it when it was used for another cover, this time on Ian Jeffrey's absorbing The British Landscape 1920-1950 and fully credited as Haytime in the Cotswolds, oil on canvas 1939.
    Yesterday I came across another Bateman painting that stopped me in my wayward tracks. This was Lullington Church, another work from 1939. It's the kind of thing that makes me yearn for springtime, much as classic Underground posters do like James McIntosh Patrick's Harrow Weald and Clare Leighton's Lambing, both from 1938.
I was immediately transported by this image of a country church, imagining myself walking up to that open gate and hearing rooks arguing up in the bower of trees. In my head it's an early springtime Sunday morning, and just as I'm wondering if the gate's been left open by the verger who's just gone in to put the oil heaters on I hear the sound of a sweeping brush and see the lady by the door.
    Those of you who read my Sussex blog post before Christmas will know what's coming next. At first I got it confused with Lullingstone up in my old stamping ground of the North Downs (the building bears a slight resemblance) but soon realised that the immediate environs were very different. And on finding Lullington I discovered, yes, it's near the Cuckmere river but certainly right in the nexus of the Ouse Valley that has occupied my thoughts for so long. 


Philip Wilkinson said...

Marvellous post. I have had a postcard of the Cotswold farm painting in my office for years, but this Lullington picture is a wonderful find. I'd like to go to the church now, of course, and really hope there ARE rooks. (My favourite church for rooks: Abbey Dore, Herefordshire, where they caw all day long, it seems, whenever I go there.)

Hels said...

This week I have a conference in Sydney so we drove the 1000 ks from Melbourne slowly. I loved living in the UK and happily find much Australian history and architecture has derived directly from our British colonial past. But the landscape could not be more different. Your paintings are green, rolling, health looking and restful. Ours are stark, brown and deadish.


John Foster said...

Love the first painting. Thanks for sharing.

David B said...

Is there a book on the works/life of Bateman?

Peter Ashley said...

Not that I know of David, but I will try and find out.

Jon Dudley said...

And just across the River Cuckmere from Berwick Church with its Duncan Grant wall paintings…couldn't be more different though.

There will be Rooks, Philip….oh dear, that sounds a bit Coen brothers, sorry.