OUR picture choice this week takes us on our final foray into the Moleskine sketchbooks of Beaconsfield artist Tim Baynes, who has been painting and print-making for more than 30 years.
For the past fortnight Tim has taken us on a lockdown journey to some of his favourite painting locations around the country, from the distinctive shorelines of Kent and Sussex which have featured in his Curious Coast adventures to the somewhat wilder coast of West Wales.
Having spent years travelling the world working for Microsoft and the BBC, Tim’s sketches cover a plethora of destinations from New York to Japan and have been seen by millions on the BBC’s Passport travel blog and in Wanderlust magazine.
But much as he loves capturing the atmosphere of exotic places, there’s no place like home, and many of the almost 4,000 sketches in his notebooks are based on his wanderings around Chilterns villages and local churches – with wife Sian and Shih Tzu-Bichon Frise cross Rosie often coming along too.
“Rosie especially loves churches, where she can investigate the sniffs and smells and perhaps a crumb dropped by the ladies when they are on their break from cleaning,” says Tim, whose fascination with church architecture even led to a book in 2016 chronicling his affectionate voyage in drawings around the Cathedrals of England.
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.
Since 2010 he has also been making regular blog entries chronicling some of his travels, and after 20 years exploring churches across the centuries up to 1900, has spent time in recent months exploring those around High Wycombe built since World War II, uncovering an intriguing hotch-potch of designs in all shapes and sizes, and wide range of materials.
“Anything goes,” says Tim, as characterised in the writings of his favourite polemicist, Jonathan Meades in Museum Without Walls (Unbound Books 2013): “Churches started to come in all shapes. There were bunkers and ships. There were churches that looked like silos… churches with swervy roofs and hyperbolic paraboloid roofs. The faithful must have had to work hard to convince themselves they were attending church at all.”
But that’s not to say modern is bad. Tim’s burgeoning fascination with modern architecture from 1900 to the present has allowed him to embark on a new voyage of discovery
“My education is taking me to all kinds of wonderful places,” he says. “Touring and drawing what I call ‘the modern church’ – those places put up for God after 1945, some of which look like Scout Huts, others like office blocks. Huge fun.
“I have been ‘churching’ locally or pretty locally. It’s been a time of frustration because they are closed and anger, because with thought they should be open. Nonetheless, rain or shine, the church is always there for us even though we cannot step inside; we can hunker down outside and enjoy each one.”
Old or new, Tim’s drawings bring the churches to life in the same way that his landscapes capture the contours of the countryside, at home and abroad – and while his lockdown “stocktake” has provided an opportunity to sort out old photographs and revisit some favourite destinations in the studio, hopefully it won’t be too long before he can get back on the road, sketchbook in hand, adding some more churches, beaches and landscapes to his formidable portfolio.