Current Exhibition

John Piper 'A Very English Artist'
19th May to 1st September 2018


The celebrated journalist Richard Ingrams notes in his introduction to 'Piper's Places' that 'a guidebook should have two aims: one is to accompany a traveller and alert him to things to look out for: the other, more difficult to achieve, is to appeal to the armchair reader and inspire him to go out and explore.' This reference to the popular Shell Guides, cites Piper's unique ability to portray the spirit and significance of a place. In Post-War Britain, this collaboration between John Piper and John Betjeman championed great churches and endangered country homes, the emphasis on giving historic buildings new prominence which allowed them to grow into beacons of national identity.

Bohun Gallery's 2018 show examines Piper's travels around the British Isles, focussing on some of his favourite 'haunts'. The exhibition begins with his role as War Artist, raising public awareness of the vulnerability of the national heritage in 'Recording Britain'. His 1940 painting of 'Valle Crucis Abbey' gives an early indication of his delight in 'decrepit glory' and 'pleasing decay'. It is this unapologetic joy in the simple characteristics of the building that formed 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; a magnificent painting of the Oxfordshire church at Lewknor, close to Piper's home in Fawley Bottom; painting and collage of Kent's Pavillion at Rousham; silkscreens and fabric designs focussing on Blenheim Palace and Stowe; further afield, there are quintessential Welsh ruins and an important 1968 painting of Caernarvon Castle.

Another highlight is the Romney Marsh painting of Snargate church which Piper had first visited at the age of 15, camping with a friend, not far from the medieval building. He returned frequently, painting a number of the churches in the early 1980s to raise money for the Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust. Devised by Piper, the journalist Richard Ingrams and the then Archbishop of Canterbury, the Trust recognised the importance of these churches, and were determined to prevent their further decline. The Trust's work continues today. 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'.

Bohun Gallery have always had a particularly enduring bond with John Piper and have been staging biennial shows of his work since the 1970s, offering a unique opportunity for Piper enthusiasts. Instead of seeing, often, familiar work by the artist in 'formal' museum surroundings, Bohun provides a very personal introduction to his work, featuring not only paintings and prints, but also tapestries, fabrics, furniture and ceramics, in intimate surroundings. Visitors can get up close to examine the brushstrokes, the printing techniques and the ceramic decoration. The experience is enhanced by the wealth of knowledge at hand, from the Gallery Director and staff. Perhaps, and most importantly, it gives visitors the opportunity to acquire Piper's work and to really share and expand on the influence of this Modern Master.

Click any image to see a larger view

Chancel of St Michael and All Angels, Moccas, c1952

Mixed media on paper
20¾ x 14 ins

Snargate, Romney Marsh, 1982

Mixed media on paper
14.5 x 21.5 ins

Lewknor, 1964

Mixed media & collage
19¾ x 27½ ins

Brittany Beach, 1961

Mixed media & collage
22 x 29½ ins

Kent's Praeneste, Rousham

Mixed media & collage
15 x 23½ ins

The Forum, Rome, 1962

Mixed media on paper
9½ x 13¾ ins

Study for Death in Venice, c1972

Mixed media on paper
14½ x 22½ ins

Vezelay Tympanum, 1970

Mixed media on paper
22 x 30½ ins

Aberfan, 1962

Mixed media on paper
8¾ x 13½ ins

Tresianwen, 1980

Mixed media
15 x 21.5 ins

Brixworth, 1985

Mixed media on paper
23½ x 16¾ ins

Ruin on the Way to Meidrim, Carmarthenshire, 1980c

Mixed media on paper
14.75 x 22 ins

Coventry Cathedral Cartoon (B37), 1959

Mixed media on paper
51 x 30ins

Coventry Cathedral Cartoon (B118), 1959

Mixed media & collage
52 x 29 ins

Mosaic dining table, circa 1960, 1958c

Mosaic tiles on a steel table frame
30 x 72 x 30 ins

Baylham, Suffolk, 1966

Mixed media on paper
14.5 x 21 ins

Near Venice, 1960

Mixed media
13.25 x 20.75 ins

Buckden in a Storm, 1977

Silkscreen, limited ed. of 100
22.5 x 33.5 ins

Alpilles, 1989

Etching & aquatint, ed. of 70
16 x 24¼ ins

Anglesey Beach, 1963

22 x 17.5 ins

Clytha Castle, 1976

Lithograph, ed. of 90
10 x 15 ins

Clytha Castle Triptych, 1981

Silkscreen, ed. of 70
28.7 x 23.25 ins

Corton Church, Suffolk, 1971

Silkscreen, ed. of 75
19 x 27½ ins

Florence Relief, 1967

Lithograph, ed. of 50 (stamped)
18.5 x 25.7 ins

Moreton Corbet, 1976

Silkscreen, ed. of 70
18 x 39 ins

Sunflowers at Marignac, 1956

Lithograph, ed. of 75
16½ x 22 ins

St Anne's, Limehouse, 1964

Lithograph, edition of 70
28 x 19 ins

Late Summer Flowers, 1989

Etching & aquatint, ed. of 70
16 x 21.5 ins

Westminster School II, 1961

Lithograph, ed. of 100
22.5 x 32 ins

Flowers in a Black Pot, 1988

Etching & Aquatint, ed. of 100
21.75 x 15.75

Stowe Triptych, 1986

Silkscreen, ed. of 70
24 x 21¼ ins

Yellow Flowers, 1987

Etching & aquatint, ed. of 100
16 x 21.5 ins

Stowe, 1983

First Edition Book, ed. of 300

Foliate Head, frieze, 1983

Screen Printed
14 x 45 ins

Blenheim Gates, 1956

Screenprinted cotton
15½ x 20½ ins

Northern Cathedral, 1962

Screenprinted Sanderlin textile
19 x 46 ins

Chiesa della Salute, 1960

Screenprinted Sanderlin textile
18 x 25 ins

Foliate Heads, 1954

Screenprinted cotton
18½ x 27¼ ins

Prometheus, 1954

8½ x 5¾ ins

SLAD logo Bohun Gallery is open
Tuesday to Saturday
10am to 5pm. Closed
weekday lunchtimes
1.15pm to 2.15pm.

New opening hours from September:
Wed to Sat 10:00 – 16:00