The exhibition begins with John Piper's role as War Artist, raising public awareness of the vulnerability of the national heritage in ‘Recording Britain’. Bohun Gallery’s 1940 painting of ‘Valle Crucis Abbey’ gives an early indication of his unapologetic joy in the simple characteristics of the building which were to form the artist’s modus operandi. The exhibition continues to explore the next fifty years of the artist’s work as he records the landscapes and buildings of the British Isles.
Highlights include paintings of Herefordshire church interiors of the 1950s illustrating un-touched Norman architecture; an important painting of Snargate church which Piper painted to raise funds for the survival of the Romney Marsh medieval churches; a magnificent painting of the Oxfordshire church at Lewknor; painting and collage of Kent’s Pavillion at Rousham; silkscreens and fabric designs focussing on Blenheim Palace and Stowe; quintessential Welsh ruins and an important 1968 painting of Caernarvon Castle. As a young man, Piper recognised the significance of such buildings and, later, at the height of his career, he became an integral part of a growing body determined to protect and maintain our English heritage for future generations to explore and enjoy.
We owe a debt of gratitude to this ‘Very English Artist’.