Compton Verney acquires a series of artworks by the modern master of the mid-century, Mark Hearld
If ever there was an artist perfectly suited to work with Compton Verney’s Folk Art collection it would be Mark Hearld.
The artist and designer has built a reputation for linocuts, wallpaper designs, illustration, painting, collage and hand painted ceramics that are infused with motifs of the countryside and seemingly inspired by mid-century artists like Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and the Neo Romantics.
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At Compton Verney. the Warwickshire-based national gallery in a Grade II listed Georgian Mansion , they house the UK’s largest collection of Folk Art, encompassing a diverse range of objects ranging from weathervanes, shop signs and paintings of prize farm animals to street scenes, items of furniture, agricultural implements and collage pictures.
So it’s fitting that as part of a £100,000 project, originally launched in 2018, to reimagine its Folk Art galleries, the curatorial team have been working with Hearld on the re-hanging of its extensive collection.
The term ‘folk art’ is used to cover a wide-ranging number of artistic and/or artisanal objects created by people who were not formally trained, or who transferred skills from other professions – such as sign-writers who were able to use their talent and eye for painting to create their own artworks.
Drawing inspiration from this ethos and the multi-faceted collection, Hearld has made and displayed several new works, not only inspired by the gallery’s folk art objects but also by the animals and rural communities surrounding the Grade 1-listed Georgian mansion and the Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown-landscaped parkland surrounding it.
Central to the project has been the creation of a new mixed-media work, The Compton Verney Collage, which has been made in response to a military patchwork dating to the mid-1800s.
“I felt it would be exciting to make a large-scale work as a visual foil for the military quilt at the far end of the gallery,” says Hearld, “something that had graphic impact and scale – in effect a paper collage quilt. I decided that a large-scale work made up of a series of individual pieces would be an interesting way to respond.
“I’ve attempted to create my own folk art world, with motifs that echo objects and images in the Collection and draw upon a cast of characters from my own menagerie of birds and beasts.”
The patchwork features many of the familiar Hearld themes , reflecting his fascination with animals and plants, chicken runs, pigeon lofts, foxes and the natural landscape.
He also produced a wallpaper design and six cut-out metal silhouettes of animals and birds, all of which directly refer to specific objects and paintings in the Collection. These are Cockerel, Hare and Partridges, Swan, Pigeon Flight, Owl and Ratter, which depicts a terrier pursuing a rat. All were made in 2018, from either brass or steel sheet, for Mark by Dave Trigwell in Cornwall.
“The graphic quality of the cut metal silhouettes and weathervanes in the collection relates directly to the shapes I cut out with scissors with sharp contours and definite profiles,” says Hearld. “It felt natural to collaborate with a metalworker who has interpreted my cut paper designs into sheet metal silhouettes that will now sit alongside the Collection.”
That collection spans over 300 years of making to encompass a wide variety of objects, from a chair made in the 1700s, to 19th century trade signs and children’s toys from the early 1900s.
“The addition of Mark’s fantastic collage and metalwork brings us up to date,” says Compton Verney Director-CEO Julie Finch, “and reflects that even in our age of smart phones, Zoom calling and electric vehicles, there are still people who make beautiful objects with their hands and own imagination.”
Find out more about the British Folk Art Collection at britishfolkartcollection.org.uk/
Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park
Discover the unique delights of Compton Verney, where there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 120 acres of stunning parkland and lake surround an award-winning art gallery, with a family friendly café and gift shop. Escape the everyday to wander through our historic ‘Capability’ Brown landscape, marvel at our world-class art…