Friday, November 25, 2011

Place and Seeing

Above is my favoutite picture in a newly-found book, 'Piper's Places - John Piper in England & Wales,' by Richard Ingrams and John Piper. It is 'Hartwell Church, Buckinghamshire 1939.' I love the white chalkiness coming out from shadow.
I hope there are others who know this artist who "has pursued so many different careers - not only as a painter but as stage designer, potter, designer of stained glass and tapestry..."  I want to find out much more.
It cost me next to nothing because its value wasn't recognised. It's in almost mint condition. More to the point, John Piper ( 13 December 1903 - 28 June 1992 ) had an exceptional sense of structure and colour, which my amateur, evening photos do little justice to.
Above is 'Littlestone-on-Sea, Romney Marsh, Kent 1936.' How many of us can compose so lucidly?
This, above, is the famous 'Stowe, Buckinghamshire, c.1975. The house from the south; the lake; the Temple of Concord.'  He makes it seem as if he didn't strain to produce his work, and yet something tells me considerable effort and talent went into it.
Dramatic, atmospheric, 'Byland Abbey, Yorkshire 1940' is one of many churches John Piper brought out into the light. 
Above is the abstracted 'Barrow on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, c. 1944.' 
It seems like a photo-montage, but it is not. This is 'Scotney: the "old castle,"' from the frontispiece ( no date). 

All images and quotations from the above book, Chatto and Windus, The Hogarth Press, 1983.


  1. wonderful artist - I love the subdued colours he uses, and I particularly love the way he paints the sky in the Byland Abbey painting. He's got a very original style, not quite like anything else i've seen. I wonder if you found this treasure in the op shop in Auburn Road?

  2. you always find the most interesting things ( books) to show us!
    thanks Faisal and have a lovely weekend : )

  3. What is his medium? A few pieces look like he might have used chalk (I may have been influenced by your "chalkiness comment), or maybe pastels over watercolor. The abstract looks almost like a collage of different materials and textures. Or are they etchings? You can tell while I have a great appreciation, I have an unlearned eye. They are each lovely and almost haunting. You introduce me to the most interesting artist.

  4. Hi Catmint, the book's come from the shop I work in. I've yet to read the book in depth, but have been quite taken away with John Piper's talent. I only wish I could re-produce the images better...

  5. Thanks, Demie. I've been hunting down hidden gems since I was a boy, when I wanted to be an archeologist. It's wonderful to be able to do so still when the world can seem to have become bland and predictable.

  6. Bonnie, hi. I'm still discovering. I know that he was known as a painter and printmaker; I don't know if he used other media. I don't know if any of us is so learned we stop learning. I'm glad to have brought something you like to your notice.

  7. I really like the Byland Abbey picture, Faisal. Very broody, very Mr Rochester. And the Scotney print too. Scotney isn't that far from me and I've visited a few times. A friend of mine used to clean parts of the house for the old owner - who has since died. The National Trust have now taken it over and are slowly opening up more and more of the house to the public. Fascinating place. And lovely gardens.


  8. Thers's so much history around you in your part of the world, Dave. I read that Scotney old castle has been intentionally retained as a ruin, and utilised as part of the garden landscape. Very alluring.