Sunday, 30 May 2010

Keeping It In The Family

Meet Uncle Ken, my father's brother. Some of my most abiding childhood memories are of spending time with my Uncle Ken at his pottery shop in Totland on the Isle of Wight. He was an accomplished potter and made a nice little living making and selling his distinctive plates, cups and lamps to locals and tourists. I often used to pop in to see him on the way home from school sometimes just for a chat and to watch with fascination as he worked with clay & glaze, other times to see if I could have a go at throwing a pot and painting patterns on my lumpy efforts and having them fired in the kiln. Uncle Ken always had time for his nieces and nephews.

He still lived with his parents and sister, my grandparents and Auntie Barbara, and as far as I know had never had a lady friend or even come close to being married. I knew he was an talented painter too, as pieces of his work were on the walls of the house alongside my grandmother's wonderful Constable-inspired paintings. He also knitted his own intricate Arran sweaters, did skilled woodwork and gardened expertly.

During World War II, he was stationed in India for a great deal of the time and obviously took his paints along with him.

When he died, about ten or twelve years ago, one of my cousins contacted me and offered me (as the 'arty' one of the family) the custody of a large sheaf of Ken's art work.

There is a big folder of his fine detailed anatomy drawings, complete with handwritten text in tiny copperplate pencilled writing, which must have been course work for the art academy he attended as a young man.

There are the wonderful pen and wash scenes of his time in India, faded and yellowed now, but still evocative.

My favourite is this charcoal drawing of a bearded Indian gentleman and I have it framed and hanging in my sitting room. I don't just love it for the artistry but because it also reminds me of my father in one of his amateur dramatic costumes!

This is my father, as painted by my mother - she was also a trained artist. I have a large folder of her work in my possession too - I am so lucky that my siblings don't have an artistic bone in their bodies and are quite happy for me to be the Keeper of the Art!

My maternal grandmother was a skilled watercolourist too, although she was very old when I was a child and I never had the time to get to know her before she died. My mother managed to save this lovely little painting from the feeding frenzy over my grandmother's possessions after her funeral, and I inherited it after my mother died.

I love that the artistic genes have continued down through both families to me, and subsequently to my children as well. My son is a talented artist too - see his work here.

So saying, I must admit I have been having a bit of trouble stirring the artistic genes into action lately - hopefully the half-term break will refresh me and I can get back my mojo!


soggibottom said...

Makes me sick that you have genes like these :-)
My lot used to be great with a needle. So I suppose it all carries on one way or another no matter what your good at. Aren't you lucky...
Lucky to have all fantastic art work.
As well as your own....
Lucky kids, they take after their mum. x x x
I am not creeping honest !
x x x well maybe slightly..... only because I don't have such talent :-)

Sallie said...

How lovely to be the keeper of all that wonderful art work! And how special to be the recipient of such wonderful artist genes. Thanks for sharing your family's talent.

Magpie Magic said...

How lovely to be the keeper of all the art and to continue the art gene in the family.

I particularly love the last water colour. It's gorgeous. xo

Dynamite said...

Great paintings, especially with the history behind them.