The equestrian art of Alan Langford
a New Forest artist’s book
‘Welgora’ means ‘Romani horse fair’, and Alan’s book reflects his lifelong fascination for horses and the special relationship that they share with people, in particular with the Romanies. This interest grew from his early childhood when he lived with his family at Drapers Copse, Dibden.
Alan writes, ‘It was there that I met my first Romani gypsies. They were a tough lot, and their toughness became most apparent during the winter of 1962-1963. Everyone on that caravan camp had a hard time that winter. Water froze in the pipes, so there were times when there was no running water. Our beds were hard against the caravan walls and we awoke in blankets damp and cold from condensation.’
As a young boy, Alan decided to make friends with some New Forest ponies and they quickly taught him a valuable lesson –
‘I had taken some slices of stale bread from the bread bin in our caravan, determined to make friends with these wonderful creatures. I soon discovered a small herd and offered them crumpled slices of the bread from my flattened palm. The ponies were all eager to indulge in my generous offer and very soon all the bread was gone. That was when things started to turn for the worse.’
As well as telling his life story, Alan’s book has sketches, watercolours and large oil paintings on every page spread. His start in life did not favour a career in art, but after working as a mine worker in Australia, he moved back to work locally at Fawley Refinery while studying art at night school. In time he found a job as an illustrator and later became a freelance comic strip artist.
Eventually he took the big step of becoming a self-employed full-time artist.
Alan makes use of his wide life experience and the time he has spent practising his craft to get as close as he can to capturing ‘the illusion of movement that compels me to paint’.
The power of Alan’s paintings will be appreciated by people who have been to a welgora or have heard of or taken part in the New Forest drifts, the pony sales at Beaulieu Road Station and the annual Boxing Day Point to Point.
He brings a life and energy to the people and horses so intense that you can almost feel their hot breath and smell the earth.