OUR picture this week allows us to continue our lockdown ‘travels’ with Beaconsfield artist Tim Baynes, who has been painting and print-making for more than 30 years.
Married to a gardener and with two grown-up daughters who live in London, his inspiration comes from both landscapes and urban life.
Much of his work is drawn from his travelling when working for Microsoft and the BBC, and last week we focused on his Curious Coast collaboration with architect photographer Trevor Clapp exploring the shorelines of Kent and Essex.
This week the spotlight is on West Wales, and that part of Tim’s website focused on more recent visits to Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire – “a landscape, coastline and places that really inspire”, as he puts it.
Tim studied at the Colchester, Slade and Central Saint Martins schools of art and works in line and wash, watercolours and acrylics, as well as oils.
He aims to make one drawing every day and has amassed nearly 4,000 drawings in his meticulous Moleskine notebooks.
Since 2010 he has also been making regular blog entries chronicling some of his travels, which have taken him from Bombay to New York, Peru to Japan and all points in between, including regular perambulations round Chilterns villages and a host of local churches.
But this year has seen a new focus for his art. He says: “I have fallen hopelessly in love with West Wales. I seem to spend all of my artistic waking moments thinking about painting this wonderful part of the world: the counties of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.”
Some of the Welsh trips have been more memorable than others, meriting special mention in Tim’s blog. “Croes-goch lies on one of the pilgrimage routes to St David’s cathedral,” he explains. “Nearby, at Mesur y Dorth, a specially carved stone indicates a spot where people shared their bread before the last stage of their journey. The stone is still clearly visible just to the north of the crossroads.
“The leading painter John Knapp Fisher lived and worked here in Trevigan Cottage until his death in 2015. The cottage gallery is often open selling prints of his work. I am greatly inspired by his work, paintings that capture the skies and seas and villages of this remarkable country – characteristic are a tiny collection of cottages, perhaps a chapel, crouched together under a dark sky.”
Another discovery was a Pembrokeshire beach which boasts extraordinary colours. “It was one of those days in winter when it never seems to get light,” Tim recalls. “We pulled up at Abereiddy beach. Close by, its small hamlet of houses and cottages huddled together for warmth.
“We walked down to the water’s edge and back, across lots and lots and lots of lovely pebbles and extraordinarily dark sand made of pounded grey slate. Slate mining was once a big business on this part of the coast.
“Ruins of a small group of slate houses known as The Street remain near the beach, their stones peering across at you through the headland grass. These were built for the quarry workers of the ‘Blue Lagoon’ only abandoned after a flood in the early 1900s.
“The ‘Blue Lagoon’ itself is a beautiful little harbour – the hamlet’s breached quarry – round the corner just to the north. Its name ‘blue’ because when the sun does shine the slate under the sea causes it to shimmer all shades of turquoise.”
This month’s second national lockdown provided a perfect chance for Tim to trawl through old photographs in search of artistic inspiration.
“It has been and remains a distressing time for so many. Yet for some people it has presented the chance for more recreation,” he says. “There have been unprecedented levels of walking and cycling during the pandemic.”
It has also been a surprisingly productive time creatively, he admits. During the first lockdown in March he started to reach back into old experiences to generate new work, both in his mind and his studio, working through precious photographs and setting time aside to produce new works.
It has proved an invaluable “stocktake”, a chance to revisit some favourite destinations and pore over past blog entries, focusing on architecture and his fascination with churches, as well as landscapes.
Next week: In our final glimpse into Tim’s notebooks, he explores the familiar landscapes of the Chilterns – and a new fascination with modern church architecture.