'Above the Estuary' Richard Adams - via
'The Farmer's Bride' - via
The Red Mill - via
'The Village Wakes' - via
'The Bridge' - via
The Lost Village - via
'A Winter Afternoon' - via
'Skeletons of Summer' - via
Contemporary painter Richard Adams (not to be confused with the author of WATERSHIP DOWN) is, to my mind, a British national treasure. (Well, and so is Richard Adams, the author, but today it's all about paintings.)
I stumbled across Adams zany world online and fell instantly in love. His paintings and illustrations depict a kind of fantasy pre-1960's England - halcyon days of idyllic rural countrysides beloved in books and art. Years faithfully written about by authors such as Angela Thirkell, D.E. Stevenson and E.F. Benson and SO brilliantly captured in vintage mystery novels too.
English villages, as we know, were also the special domain of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and Michael Innes and their finely tuned ilk. Murder never seemed as foul when taking place among the cabbage roses and topiaries.
Certainly these settings were NOT the innocent byways and highways perceived by less perceptive outsiders, much to our delight, there were always nefarious secrets hidden in the hedgerows - anyone who's read a vintage cozy mystery knows that.
And certainly anyone who knows ANYTHING about the sinister and oh-so-satirical rural ambience of Stella Gibbons' COLD COMFORT FARM (and if you don't - what are you waiting for?) will recognize the deceptively cozy atmosphere of Adams' work.
That's what I love most about it. Here's all this charmingly innocent rustic detail sparked occasionally by a disconcerting hint of abandon. (This IS England, after all.) But the implied sex in the haystacks is, in itself, of the Cold Comfort Farm type - outrageous yet somehow, not especially shocking. "I saw something nasty in the woodshed."
Adams works, I believe, in pastels which are notoriously difficult to master. But oh are they fun to mess around with. I have a box, untouched, un-used, of oil pastels which I've held onto for years thinking that at some point I'd give 'em a try - but oh, my friends. just TOO intimidating.
Still, I enjoy the results when they are this obviously brilliant and engaging.