Picture Puzzle

Shooters Hill School about 1875
Shooters Hill School about 1875

From time to time I receive e-mails with questions about Shooters Hill local history. Often these are from other countries, such as a question about dairies in Shooters Hill from someone in Australia. Another e-mail from Australia, from Lorraine McBride, was a question about the painting shown above of Shooters Hill School in about 1875. Lorraine wondered if I knew anything about the school, and whether it was still standing. She said that she knew nothing about the painting, or how it made its way to Australia.

It’s a puzzling picture. It doesn’t look like any of the schools around Shooters Hill today, certainly not Christ Church or Eglinton Road or the Post-16 Campus which used to be Shooters Hill Grammar School. The pond is particularly puzzling. The only possibility, it seemed to me, was that this was a painting of Wickham House at the back of the old Bull where  the Rev. Thomas James Dallin ran an  academy for gentlemen. The pond would have had to be the Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond. This wasn’t a very satisfactory solution as none of the old OS maps of Shooters Hill showed  both the pond and Wickham House at the same time. Also the dates didn’t quite fit: the Rev. Thomas James Dallin was the first vicar at Christ Church from 1856 until his death in 1865, ten years before the painting’s date.

The answer was in the Greenwich Heritage Centre. David Lloyd Bathe’s “Steeped in History” includes the photograph below, which is very clearly the same building as in the water colour: the chimneys and widows are quite distinctive, as is the pond at the front.

Steeped in History has this to say about the building:

Up until 1875 the area by the water tower was known as Woodcot complete with its surrounding gardens. The house was said to be constructed from large sawn timbers obtained from local woods. It had a pond which measured 150ft by 90ft fed from a local spring and was used in severe winters for skating. The east facing house was built before 1745 and was demolished in 1875. For many years it was occupied by the artist W. Earl who with his wife oversaw a school for young ladies.
When the house was pulled down in 1875 two cottages were built just north of the water tower, they were known as 1 and 2 Woodcot Cottages. The pond remained until 1906 when it was filled in and six semi-detached villas were built, Ardmore, Eridge, Hammerwood, St Ives, St Denys and The Crest by Mr. Hutchings.

So the School in the painting was a school for young ladies run by W.Earl and his wife. W. Earl’s full name was William Robert Earl.

Woodcot showing the pond used for skating in icy weather
Woodcot showing the pond used for skating in icy weather

The Greenwich Heritage Centre folder about William Robert Earl contains an exchange of letters in 1979 between William’s great grand-daughter, Mrs. Patricia Glasgow, and the Greenwich local history library which was then at Woodlands House. Mrs. Glasgow lived in New Zealand to where her grandfather Albert, one of William Earl’s sons, had migrated in 1857. It reveals that the school was run by William’s wife Ann with the aid of a governess and that there were an average of 10 pupils.

Mrs. Glasgow’s letter also says a little about William’s career as a painter:

My great grandfather was a prolific painter; I received a letter from the librarian of the Royal Academy of Arts with a list of 19 paintings they exhibited between 1823 and 1854, and she also mentioned that over 50 works were shown by the British Institution  and that he was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Society of British Artists.

Here is Mrs. Glasgow’s list of William Robert Earl’s paintings that were exhibited by the Royal Academy:

1823        View near Chichester
1824        View on the coast of Sussex
1825        View at the back of the Isle of Wight, View from Green Hill, Evesham, Worcestershire
1826        A scene on the coast, Scene at St Cross, Isle of Wight, Scene at Charlton Forest, Sussex
1827        View in the New Forest near Lyndhurst, with figures, The fisherman’s fortunate haul and lucky return
1828        Waterfall and figures
1829        Coast Scene
1831        View near Eltham, Kent
1845        Fishing boats on the beach, Hastings, Sussex, Fishing boats landing, Hastings, Sussex
1848        Shrimping and wildfowl shooting between Hastings and Rye
1850        A wreck off the castle, Scarborough,  Landscape, evening
1852        The morning after the wreck of the “City of Bristol” near Warms Head, South Wales
1854        Fishermen leaving home

Mrs. Glasgow also sent a colour photo of one of William’s paintings, Sheep Washing in Eltham Lane, which was owned by a cousin; I’ve included a scan of it below. Two more of William’s paintings are shown on the BBC Your Paintings web site.

Mrs Glasgow provides a link between William Robert Earl in Shooters Hill and the Southern hemisphere. Another is mentioned in an article in the March 2002 issue of the North West Kent Family History Society‘s journal by John Orbell, a great grandson of William Robert Earl. He had discovered a distant relative in Australia, but didn’t give any details. John also found an entry about William in the Dictionary of Victorian Painters by C. Wood:

EARL, William Robert, flourished between 1823-6 7, Coastal views in England, Scotland, Belgium & Germany. Exhibited 114 works, 19 at Royal Academy, 52 at British Institution (1806-67), 43 at Society of British Artists (founded 1823); London landscape painter. Exhibited at RA 1823-1854, but more frequently at BI & SBA, Suffolk Street. Subjects mainly views of Sussex, the Isle of Wight, and other places on the English coast. Also travelled in Germany and along the Rhine.

William lived in Shooters Hill until his death at Glengall Cottage on 10th June 1880.

Could William have painted the water colour of Woodcot? It’s difficult to say. Lorraine removed the painting from its frame to check for a signature with no luck. On the back of the painting there are two lines of indistinct text. The top one is the title and the second is:

‘…. ….. Bess (B.l.. .y…. dam) …ut about 1875

The dots indicate undecipherable letters and Lorraine was not 100% sure about the letters in red. Any suggestions about the water colour’s painter would be very welcome.

Photograph of W.R. Earl's Sheep Washing in Eltham Lane from Greenwich Heritage Centre
W. R. Earl’s Sheep Washing in Eltham Lane photo from Greenwich Heritage Centre

The cottages and houses mentioned by David Lloyd Bathe that replaced Woodcot  are still there, shown in the photographs below. The original Woodcot and its pond occupied all of the area between the short part of Cleanthus Road and Eaglesfield Road, with the house itself at the western end of the plot facing east. The water tower which now takes up part of that land wasn’t built until 1910; looking at the position of Woodcot on old maps the tower is positioned at the left hand end of Woodcot in the photograph at the top.  The name “The Crest” can still be seen on the semi-detached villa closest to the water tower and  “Eridge” on the one second furthest away. Colonel Bagnold says that the photograph of Woodcot was taken by “Miss Carter, at one time resident of Summer Court”. It would have been taken from roughly where Eaglesfield Road is now. The Colonel also says that the spring that fed the pond still existed (at the time he was writing) in the garden of the house called Hammerwood.

A partial solution to Lorraine’s picture puzzle, though not yet the complete answer. But it did reveal some interesting local history.

Woodcot Cottages and the Water Tower
Woodcot Cottages and the Water Tower
The row of semi-detached villas on the site of the former Woodcot pond
The row of semi-detached villas on the site of the former Woodcot pond

Blackheath Art Society Autumn Exhibition

Blackheath Art Society Autumn Exhibition Flyer

Benjamin e-mailed to let me know about the Blackheath Art Society Autumn Show which is called “Impressions of Greenwich and Blackheath”. It is on at the Discover Greenwich upstairs gallery at the ORNC, Cutty Sark Gardens, SE10 9NN from  Saturday 07 September – Friday 01 November. Entry is free and it is open from 10am-5pm.  It will include artwork from local artists, many of whom opened their studios to the public in the Open Studio event in April and May this year.

Planes and Boats and Trains – the Art of Colin Ashford

Colin Ashford
Colin Ashford

“I specialise in maritime pictures as well as aviation,” said Colin Ashford,” and have also painted steam trains and cars.”  We were sitting in the front room of  the Shooters Hill house where Colin had lived for over 60 years, talking about the water colours he had exhibited in the recent “Aviation Paintings of the Year 2013” exhibition at the Mall Galleries. This annual exhibition is organised by the Guild of Aviation Artists of which Colin is a founder member and Vice President. The Guild was formed in 1971 with the aim of promoting aviation art and now has over 500 members and links with many fellow societies around the world.

Colin’s paintings have been a regular part of the Guild’s exhibitions – examples can be seen in their gallery web pages – and he has been awarded their Hawker Siddeley Trophy for the best water colour of the year on more than one occasion. The 2013 exhibition was very well attended on the day I visited, with many aviation enthusiasts viewing and discussing the 446 paintings by 139 artists.

Colin's three watercolours at the Aviation Paintings of the Year exhibition
Colin’s three watercolours at the Aviation Paintings of the Year exhibition

Born in 1919, Colin showed a natural talent for art from a young age, and his school teachers told his parents that there was nothing they could teach him about drawing. He was educated at Ackworth Quaker School and decided at the age of 12 that he wanted to be an artist. Coincidentally that was about the time he first flew, in an open top biplane which he later discovered was flown by a first world war pilot. He won a  Junior Exhibition to study art for four years at Wakefield College, followed by three years at the prestigious, Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed  Glasgow School of Art. He believes this rigorous academic training has stood him in good stead throughout his subsequent career

Colin was already interested in maritime and aviation art, and while a student spent some time during holidays going out on herring fishing boats from Scarborough to learn more about the subject and make notes on shapes and colours.

His ambition to be an artists was interrupted by the Second World War. Colin’s experiences with the First Battalion Scottish Light Infantry as part of the British Expeditionary Force just before the Dunkirk evacuation sound like a story from one of the boy’s annuals he later illustrated. The battalion was assigned by General Gort to defend a gap in the line created by the Belgian’s surrender. After a rapid overnight march through thundery storms they had to dig trenches into sodden clay – trenches that quickly filled with water – and then hold off a superior force including two Panzer divisions, with only light weapons. They held out for 24 hours, but Colin was wounded in the leg and taken by truck to the Belgian town, Poperinge. They could go no further because the bridge had been blown up to hinder the enemy’s advance.

Colin Ashford in the Second World War
Colin Ashford in the Second World War

Colin managed to get a lift in a tracked bren-gun carrier, on the understanding that he was capable of firing it, and was taken back into battle despite his wound, though with an artillery unit this time. Again this only delayed the inevitable and he eventually had to wade shoulder deep across the river between the spars of the demolished bridge in order to get to the coast for evacuation back to the UK. After two days on the beach he was taken home.

Colin was in hospital for three months recovering from his wound and shell-shock. He was redeployed to the Royal Engineers and served in North Africa and Italy, using his artistic skills in camouflage development – a subject on which he later gave talks and appeared in a TV programme about. His deployment included some time at the Allied Middle-East HQ, based in the Royal Palace at Caserta, Italy, which was where the photo on the right was taken. Many years later the Royal Palace was used as a filming location for a number of films including two Star Wars episodes, Mission Impossible III and Angels and Demons.

After the war Colin moved south to London to pursue his artistic ambitions. He started with a full-time job at a publisher, “the mortgage had to be paid”, but taking art commissions in his spare time. One of his early commissions, in 1959, came from Hunting Aerosurveys who wanted a picture of their predecessor company Aerofilms‘ first aerial photography sortie in an Airco DH.9 aircraft flying over Crystal Palace. This picture was reproduced in a book about building history, where it was seen by a firm of consulting engineers, Freeman, Fox and Partners. They contracted Colin to do artwork of their products, which included major bridge, road and building projects.  While we were chatting Colin showed me copies of some of his commercial engineering art work, such as a 3-D, cut-away picture of an interchange on the Hong Kong Metro. The detail and perspective allowed the engineers working on the project to see how their plans would work out and make adjustments if necessary. Another project was to depict an oil rig drilling platform.

Colin’s career breakthrough came when Freeman, Fox and Partners decided to put him on a retainer, which freed him to pursue a full-time career as an artist.

Accuracy and meticulous attention to detail are key to Colin’s art. He aims to make his paintings historically accurate, depicting events that actually happened, as well as being a true representation of his subject. This means a lot of research into the historical background as well as the appearance and structure of the objects he paints. He has built up a library of books, photographs and even plans of aircraft, ships and other subjects of his paintings, and sometimes uses pilots’ combat reports. Manufacturers, many of them no longer in existence, were happy to send photographs and plans as part of their PR effort. Colin has also perfected his own water colour techniques over the years, experimenting in different uses of the medium to get the desired effect. He feels water colour is one of the most difficult media to master.

An example of Colin’s work in water colour, with both an aviation and a maritime theme,  is shown below: an incident from the First World War when a Blackburn Kangaroo aircraft of No. 246 Squadron RAF flown by Lt E. F. Waring bombed a German submarine, SM UC-70, near Runswick Bay, Yorkshire on 28 August 1918.

A Blackburn Kangaroo bombs an enemy submarine in the First World War
A Blackburn Kangaroo bombs an enemy submarine in the First World War

Although Colin prefers water colours he also sometimes paints in oils. One of his large oil paintings, a Lancaster bomber in a brooding, moody sky, is in the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington, another is in the Hendon RAF Museum. His paintings are in various museums around the world.  The National Maritime Museum has a water colour of the first catapult launch of an aircraft from a ship. Sir Peter Jackson, the film director, seems to be a big fan: there are 30 of Colin’s paintings at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in New Zealand which Peter inspired, chairs and  helped set up. Other interesting commissions have included a series of paintings of cruise liners for an executive from New York who wanted water colours of the liners he had sailed on, pictures of vintage sports cars for their owners and paintings of Thames tug boats commissioned by their skippers. He spent time travelling on the Thames boats to gather information for the paintings, and also captured details of Thames-side industries that have now been replaced by housing.

As well as paintings Colin has created a wide variety of different artwork over the years. This includes book jackets, magazine covers and postcards. He has contributed a number of covers for the magazine of Cross and Cockade, the First World War Aviation Historical Society and pictures for aviation books published by the RAF Benevolent Fund such as Wright to Fly.  A set of transport post cards utilises Colin’s ability to paint and create lettering in the style of the 1930s. At auction and on art sale websites Colin’s art sells for more than its original price.

At 94 years old Colin continues to paint in the studio adapted from the garage of his home on Shooters Hill.

Nieuport Scout of Royal Flying Corps No. 40 Squadron attacks an observation balloon
Nieuport Scout flown by Lt. Morgan of the Royal Flying Corps No. 40 Squadron attacks an observation balloon

Open Studios 2013

Blackheath Art Society  Map
Blackheath Art Society Map

Opportunities for art lovers to meet and talk to local artists in their studios start this weekend when some of the members of the Blackheath Art Society  open their workplaces to the public. They are open from 12.00 noon to 6.00pm this Saturday and Sunday (27 & 28th April) and then again on the weekend of the 4th & 5th May. Admission is free.

The Blackheath Art Society leaflet, above, gives details of the artists and where they can be seen (click for a larger view).  Some of the artists I saw last year are open again this year. I particularly enjoyed the creations of Nicola White, who  makes her art from flotsam and jetsam found along the banks of the Thames such as  lengths of driftwood and pieces of glass worn smooth by the tide. I must admit that the Thames Bottle Fish we got from Nicola last year is still waiting, with the wooden Roopachanda fish from Bangladesh, to be put up on the bathroom wall – it really needs a third fish to make a plaster duck like cascade.  I also liked the acrylics, water colours and pastels of local scenes by Pat Colman, who teaches art at the University of the Third Age in Greenwich.

Blackheath Art Society also have a Taster Exhibition on at the moment until 19th May at the Greenwich Tourist Information Centre in Cutty Sark Gardens, and will hold their Summer Exhibition at the Blackheath Halls, Lee Road from 5th to 18th June.

Second Floor Studio and Arts  flyer

There are so many artists working at the seven acre site of  Second Floor Studios & Arts that I still haven’t got round them all, despite visiting on a couple of their open studios days. The next one opens on the evening of  Friday17th May from  5pm – 9pm and is open on Saturday and Sunday 18th & 19th from 11am – 6pm. The range of creative work going on down by the Thames Barrier is enormous, as their web site says it includes:

painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, photography, animation, illustration, fashion, accessories, jewellery design, mosaic, glass-making, ceramics, cabinet-making, architecture, interiors and soft furnishings, bookbinding, silversmithing, installation, textiles, garden design + more…

SFSA have produced  a Family Trail map and activity sheet  to guide families with children on their exploration of the site and studios.

Also on the SFSA site over that weekend, the no format gallery has an exhibition of contemporary furniture and lighting produced by SFSA members, and the gallery will be the venue for the launch of Stephen Baycroft’s new book “On Sublimity and Synaesthesia”.  And of course there’s the Thames-side Social Enterprise Arts Café CANTEEN to relax and recuperate in when you get studio-ed out.

Room with a Thames view at SFSA
Room with a Thames view at SFSA

Winter Open Studios at Second Floor Studios & Arts

Second Floor Studios & Arts Winter Open Studios flyer

Second Floor Studios & Arts are holding another open studio weekend on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th November. Their last open studios in May was engrossing – such a variety of different artists and craftspeople – but I only managed to visit a fraction of the 200 or so studios, and of course the excellent Canteen. Nichole Herbert e-mailed details of the event:

Our opening night is Thursday 15th November and we are open all weekend (17th and 18th).

– It’s a perfect opportunity for you to discover unique gifts for those hard to buy for people.
– We now have 230 artists, craftspeople and designer makers on site, there is no other single site in the UK with so many practitioners.
– no format will open on the same night with the Thames Barrier Print Studio’s inaugural show – Freedom of the Press – a group show celebrating the art of print.
– We are introducing an art trail this year to keep the little people busy and to make navigation of our ever expanding site more fun.
– We have a number of demonstrations running over open studios both by our practitioners and at the Thames Barrier Print Studio.
– Our CANTEEN, will of course be open during open studios serving a hearty Irish stew, coffee, tea, homemade cakes and mulled wine.

Please bring your friends and family and enjoy time by the river being inspired by creativity.

SFSA is located near the river in the Mellish Industrial Estate, Harrington Way, (off Warspite Road),  SE18 5NR. I had no problem parking there in May.

Second Floor Studios & Arts Winter Open Studios flyer

Open Studios

Second Floor Studios & Arts Flyer
Second Floor Studios & Arts Flyer

Both the Blackheath Art Society and Second Floor Studios & Arts have open studios this weekend. Eleven Blackheath Art Society  artists’ studios, situated in Blackheath and surrounding areas are open from 12.00 noon to 6.00pm on both Saturday and Sunday, 19th and 20th May. The snippet of their flyer, below, gives the addresses of the studios (click to enlarge). Second Floor Studio & Arts is London’s largest creative hub of arts and crafts practitioners, with over 160 studio members and 45 Thames Barrier Print Studio members. Their open studios event has its opening night on Thursday evening, and is open from 11.00am to 6.00pm on both weekend days. There is also a chance to see print demonstrations in the Thames Barrier Print Studio and visit their recently opened  social enterprise Arts Canteen. SFSA is located in the Mellish Industrial Estate, Harrington Way, (off Warspite Road),  SE18 5NR.

Blackheath Art Society Flyer
Blackheath Art Society Flyer

The BAS artists’ studios were open last weekend too, and I visited three of the artists closest to home. All three were very welcoming, with offers of drinks and nibbles, a chance to view and purchase artwork  and all were prepared to share their artistic techniques generously. The first studio visited was in the Royal Herbert Pavilions; Nicola White makes her art from flotsam and jetsam found along the banks of the Thames. The art she has created from found items such as  lengths of driftwood, fragments of glass worn smooth by the tide and a surprisingly large number of broken clay pipe pieces was unexpectedly effective, demonstrating a quirky sense of humour. I especially liked the way in which the curve of a piece of driftwood mimicked a bird’s breast, and the essence of a fish captured in broken glass.

Further down Shooters Hill Road was the studio of  Pat Colman, who had works in acrylics, water colours and pastels on display. Her dramatic and moody acrylics of local scenes such as the Thames Barrier and Dome, the Royal Observatory and the Yacht Club were particularly striking.  Pat also teaches art at the University of the Third Age in Greenwich. Finally to Roque lane to see the paintings of Shirley Felts and photography of Martin Ellis. Shirley is an accomplished water colourist and prolific book illustrator, with a long held interest in the South American rain forests which many of her paintings depict. My favourites however were smaller giclee prints of still lifes, capturing the shine on an apple or the rich red of cherries.

If you’re interested in art and local artists next weekend could be busy.

Cabinet of Curiosities

The Mobile Allotment, designed by Lisa Cheung, which has been instrumental in developing Avant-Gardening's programme of activities. Named Most Innovative Growing Space on the Landshare.net website
The Mobile Allotment, designed by Lisa Cheung, at the Nightingale Estate

Arts and Environment project, Avant-Gardening, are looking for people who have stories to tell about their personal experiences of living in Greenwich to put in their Greenwich Cabinet of Curiosities. They are particularly searching for some of the lesser known and personal histories which add real colour to an understanding of the area. You can see some of their research so far on their tumblr blog. As they say in their project description:

The project aims to create a mobile archive and art exhibition that responds to the area through the voices of the people that live or pass through it; exploring hidden histories, folkloric tales and secret places, documenting the people and places of this diverse borough to capture a unique snapshot of the place, its people and its history. To help us achieve this aim we will be working with residents, schools and community groups to create a uniquely creative response to the borough and we need your help to achieve this. If you have any stories, home movies, photographs, loved places you want to tell us about or memories you are willing to share, please get in touch and we can arrange to come and meet you to document these stories for possible inclusion in the cabinet.

We are also looking for artists who have created Greenwich-related or inspired works that they would like us to consider for inclusion in the exhibition or to be documented in the cabinet itself. We are also interested in collaborating with like-minded artists interested in the environment, social and personal histories and psycho-geography.

Avant-Gardening is an artists’ collective led by artist Polly Brannan and project manager Paul Green, whose work investigates social spaces and the urban environment. Described as “artists in gardening gloves”, they have been going since 2008 and have completed a number of projects throughout London, and as far afield as Ethiopia. Their projects focus on environmental and sustainability issues and encourage the involvement of local people through workshops, community gardens and even a mobile allotment.

Nightingale Community Gardens Mini-orchard Banner
Nightingale Community Gardens Mini-orchard Banner

Another one of Avant-Gardening’s current projects is “The Place where Plums Grow” which aims to plant a number of small dwarf orchards in and around Plumstead, starting on the Nightingale Estate, reflecting the area’s history of orchards. The venture is a joint effort with the Welcare charity and the London Orchard Project:

“Starting in and around the community garden on Nightingale Estate we planted a small number of dwarf apple trees and ran a number of summer workshops with the children to raise awareness of the garden and fruit trees and their role in urban bio-diversity. This pilot project proved to be a great success and led to us developing the second phase of the project, to plant a wider variety of trees in the area and to encourage wider community participation.”

The next stage of planting takes place in a couple of week’s time on 16thFebruary 2012.

Blooming Barnfield Urban Farmers Guide
Blooming Barnfield Urban Farmers Guide

Avant-Gardening have also worked on the Barnfield Estate. Their Blooming Barnfield project during the summer of 2010 encompassed a wide range of activities, including a Barnfield Dream Team football challenge, Growing Stories workshops, the Big Avant-Gardening Lunch and a GPS walk around the estate looking for places for potential community gardens. All beautifully described in the Blooming in Barnfield Fanzine. One of the Avant-Gardeners also spent six weeks working with children at Plumcroft School on their allotment and arts and photography projects.

Last year Avant-Gardening started work on planning a project to create and plant a community garden on the Barnfield Estate.

For more information about Avant-Gardening, or if you have a story about local history to contribute to the Cabinet of Curiosities, contact Paul on e-mail: paul@avantgardening.org or telephone: 020 3239 9174

Colin Fifield and Ray Marshall Waterscapes Exhibition

Waterscapes ExhibitionThe Ripley Arts Centre in Bromley will host a joint exhibition by two local artists, Colin Fifield and Ray Marshall, starting on the evening of 31st January and running to 24th February. Ripley Arts Centre is located at 24 Sundridge Avenue, Bromley, Kent, BR1 2PX – not far from Bromley town centre.

The Bromley Arts Council description of the event  includes the following profiles of the two artists:

Colin Fifield – profile
Colin lives on Shooters Hill, South East London. He first studied art and design at Camberwell School of Art from 1958 to 1962 specialising in Painting, Lithography and Illustration. He was awarded the National Diploma in Design (NDD) in 1962. From 1962 to 1964 he completed a two year post graduate course in Painting and Engraving at the Slade School of Fine Art, University of London where was awarded the Slade Diploma in 1964. His art has always been very eclectic. His interests range from landscape paintings in oils, watercolours and acrylics. His main inspiration comes from the landscapes of the South East Coast especially the areas of Dungeness, Deal and Hastings.

Ray Marshall – profile
Ray Marshall was born in Lambeth and moved to Plumstead, South East London, in 1975, where he has remained a local resident since. Having undertaken some formal study at Morley College, tutored by Lawrence Toynbee among others, Ray is mostly self-taught. His work covers an eclectic mix of subjects, taking inspiration from nature, architecture, historical references, dance and music and the general observation of the world around us.

Ray’s interests provide a wealth of stimulation as he enjoys walking in the countryside and urban settings, cross country running, motorcycling and bird watching, as a member of the RSPB. These activities afford the opportunity for collecting photos, sketches and notes which provide reference material for his work in watercolour, oils, pen and ink and pencil drawings.

This wide ranging body of work has been exhibited in a number of local shows and produced commissioned works for patrons both locally as well as in America, Canada and Australia.

Colin Fifield Pottery
Colin Fifield Pottery

Colin Fifield is also a potter, specialising in stoneware especially domestic pottery such as mugs and jugs. He  is one of the Eltham Art Group who have an exhibition at the Blackheath Halls in March which will include oil paintings, photography and contemporary images. Other members of the Eltham Art Group are Claire Rowlands, Peter Clark, Graham Redmayne and Graham Davies.

Ray Marshall painted the Shooters Hill montage that can be seen in the Bull and in the Oxlea Wood Café. This depicts many Shooters Hill landmarks, for example the Water Tower, the Bull, Severndroog Castle, Ypres milestone …. even one of the wrought-iron encased red balls that sit on top of the pillars outside Herbert Pavilions. Ray is a member of the Plumstead Painters and Potters group which regularly exhibits their paintings, watercolours and pottery.

There are many other artists associated with Shooters Hill – William Robert Earl, Colin Ashford, Jon Sullivan to name just a few. I hope  they will feature in future posts.

Photograph of Ray Marshall's Shooters Hill montage
Photograph of Ray Marshall's Shooters Hill montage