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Artist in Residence at Cobham Hall: A Journey in Tudor Splendour

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

In the waning days of August, I found myself on a train headed back to England, ready to embark on a remarkable adventure that would take me far from the bustling heart of London. This time, with a desire to fully immerse myself in the quintessential English experience and envisioning myself as a character in a series like 'Downton Abbey,' I chose a distinctive destination nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Kent—Cobham Hall.


A treasure trove of history, Cobham Hall has, since the 1960s, served as the esteemed Cobham Hall School. This venerable institution has entrusted me with a special commission: to create art that pays homage to the Tudor splendour of the building and its wondrous grounds. As I pen these words, I'm diligently working towards an exciting exhibition, in collaboration with the students, that will unfold by the end of this school year.


Cobham Hall, stately home and private school located in Kent
Cobham Hall

Artist in Residence; First Impressions


Cobham Hall, a grand structure that traces its origins back to the year 1584, is a testament to the enduring history and heritage of England. It stands as an embodiment of the past, whispering stories of lords and ladies, victories and challenges, into the present. The manor is not merely a place, but a living chronicle of the country's history, deeply entwined with the very soul of England.


Yet, Cobham Hall is not confined to its walls alone. The estate's grounds are a world of wonder waiting to be explored. Allow me to paint a picture for you: The winding drive leading up to the school is a breathtaking sight, meandering through fields where white sheep, adorned with striking black faces, graze in the serene landscape. As you draw nearer to the mansion, the fields give way to a mysterious woodland. This is where I first encountered the family of deer that calls this place home, led by a white stag—a guardian with an air of enchantment, evoking the pages of a Harry Potter novel.

And there's even more to unfold. As I crossed the threshold into this timeless abode, I was graciously granted an early glimpse into the resplendent Gilt Hall on that very first day. It's a marvel, a true testament to opulence from bygone eras, and it bathes in the warm embrace of gold from floor to ceiling. But this stately manor has more treasures to reveal.


As I ventured deeper within, I discovered the beautiful old library, its shelves lined with leather-bound volumes of wisdom, their pages whispering the tales of centuries past. There, on a table, a delightful spread awaited—a platter of scones, generously dolloped with clotted cream and accompanied by pots of jam, an indulgence for the senses.


Yet, it was the vestibule that captured my heart as my favourite room. Its walls painted in soothing green and pink pastel hues, they create a tranquil ambiance. Greek friezes grace the walls, depicting griffins in scenes from myth and lore. Until 1802, this very room served as the main entrance to the manor, and from its windows, one can gaze upon a meticulously tended formal garden, a testament to the estate's elegance.


As I ascended the grand wooden staircase, its sturdy steps leading me two floors above, I found myself in my cosy apartment. Here, I share the view of the vestibule, an inspiring and ever-changing tableau of beauty.


My first impressions were nothing short of amazing. The rich history, the opulent interiors, and the lush gardens of Cobham Hall have cast a spell on me, and I eagerly await the moments and inspirations yet to come in this remarkable place.



Artist in Residence; Mission and What's Next


This blog has a dual mission. Firstly, it aims to provide readers with valuable insights, tips, and tricks into the intricate process of creating works of art. Through a blend of personal experiences, creative techniques, and artistic revelations, this blog aspires to become a wellspring of inspiration for fellow artists and art enthusiasts alike.


Secondly, this blog sets out to demystify the role of an Artist in Residence at a school, offering an illuminating look into the daily life and creative endeavours of an artist in this unique setting. By sharing my journey, I hope to create a better understanding of the dynamic world of artists in residence, where history, education, and art converge harmoniously.


Engage with Us: Share Your Thoughts and Stories


I believe that the beauty of art lies not only in its creation but also in the connections it forms. I'm eager to hear your thoughts and experiences related to art, history, and the English countryside. Perhaps you've visited stately homes or have your own artistic journey to share. Do you have a favourite piece of art that has left a lasting impression on you? Feel free to share in the comments below.


Questions to Ponder:

  1. Have you ever been to a stately home, and if so, what was your most memorable experience?

  2. Do you have any artistic tips or techniques you'd like to share with fellow artists and art enthusiasts?

  3. How do you envision the life of an Artist in Residence at a school, and what questions do you have about this role?

What's Next:


In the upcoming post, I'll delve into the enchanting month of September at Cobham Hall. A time steeped in research, exploration, and discovery, it's a pivotal phase of my artistic mission. During September, my focus will shift towards a captivating project centred around the magnificent dining hall fireplace—a piece of history that has witnessed countless meals, celebrations, and stories. Stay tuned as we uncover the secrets and craftsmanship behind this remarkable centrepiece and explore how it can inspire art in the modern day.


Your insights and stories will surely add depth and richness to our collective experience as we embark on this artistic odyssey together.


First Drawing of Cobham Hall, done in Charcoal and Pastels
First Drawing of Cobham Hall, Charcoal and Pastels on multiple sheets of Paper

Warmest regards,

Toxopencil

Artist in Residence at Cobham Hall

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