Alan Langford – Inspired by the New Forest

Alan Langford, New Forest equestrian artist, features in the Friends of the New Forest Associations FOREST MATTERS Autumn/Winter 2023 publication.

Inspired by the New Forest

‘Alan Langford is a freelance artist and illustrator who specialises in equestrian subject matter.
As a native of the New Forest, he is familiar with its extensive landscapes of open heath and ancient woodland that are frequently depicted in his paintings.
A love of horses and riding, and the struggle to depict action in a convincing, predominantly aesthetic way, is the foremost objective in his paintings.
Alan was born in Hampshire, but went to Australia when his family decided to emigrate there under the popular immigration scheme after the Second World War.
They returned to England after three years and in much depleted circumstances lived in a caravan at Drapers Copse, Dibden, on the edge of the New Forest.
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 1962-63. Everyone on that caravan camp had a hard time that winter.’
[extract from Alan’s book, WELGORA published by LittleKnollPress.com]
His close contact with the local Romani community, whose relationship with the Forest can be traced back for Centuries, has left an empathetic influence on his art. Images of the Romani Welgoras (horse fairs) and Atchin Tans (temporary camps) often feature in his paintings.
After a footloose career wandering from one unskilled job or another in Australia and the UK he finally embarked on a serious course of part-time study at Southampton College of Art. He qualified to study as a full-time student on the college’s Foundation Course, but had to let this opportunity pass because his absence from the UK while wandering in Australia exempted him from any grant entitlement.
He finally found work as a full time illustrator and since then has illustrated comics, encyclopaedias, history books and classical novels.

Alan Langford paints at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth

Alan starts his painting at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum.

Equestrian artist, Alan Langford, demonstrated painting at the ‘Animals in Art and Nature’ evening at Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth.

In just over two hours Alan completed a watercolour of gypsy horses, while finding plenty of time to talk to visitors as well.

The evening celebrated the summer 2023 exhibition In Her Own Voice’ which brought together a stunning selection of works by the famous equestrian painter, Lucy Kemp-Welch, at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum.

Poster by Lucy Kemp-Welch depicting Robert Baden-Powell’s horse ‘Black Prince’.

If you think you’ve never heard of Lucy Kemp-Welch, think again … she illustrated the first edition of Anna Sewell’s classic book ‘Black Beauty’, using Baden-Powell’s horse Black Prince as the model for Black Beauty.

 

Alan Langford was gripped by the same desire as Lucy Kemp-Welch to capture in paint the power and movement of horses, and their special relationship with people.

Alan writes in his book ‘WELGORA’ …

Illustration from Alan’s book ‘WELGORA’.

‘In the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth, hangs Lucy Kemp-Welch’s eight foot long canvas, entitled The Gypsy Horse Drovers, which she painted when she was still an art student under the tutorage of Herbert Von Herkomer RA. The idea for the painting occurred to her when she saw the approach of a number of heavy-hoofed cobs, driven by tough-looking Romani riders along a muddy country lane, under a grey wintry sky.
Rushing from her lodgings with palette and brushes in hand, and the lid of her paint box to serve as a paint board, she executed a swift, skilful composition as this irregular, rampant procession proceeded before her.
Following this exciting encounter and full of the energetic enthusiasm that compels artists when embarking on a project that interests them deeply, she ordered an eight foot long, stretched canvas and set about composing her figures against the landscape. The confidence required to undertake such a task using only a hastily prepared oil study for reference was quite extraordinary, and Lucy was only in her early twenties at the time.
Some eighty years later, I stood before this astonishing painting, skin hot from sunburn, salty sand trapped between my toes, and rolled damp towel tucked under my arm … I was completely transported to that cold, muddy lane with its grazing and rearing horses as recorded by Lucy Kemp-Welch all those years ago.’

When you visit Bournemouth, dont miss going to see Lucy Kemp-Welchs magnificent painting The Gypsy Horse Droversat the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum.

WELGORA – Wickham Horse Fair 2019

Wickham Horse Fair

WELGORA

(WELGORA is the Romani word for Horse Fair)

By ancient charter of King Henry III, 1269

2019 and still an unmissable event!

 

WELGORA – ISBN: 9780992722067

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In his book

WELGORA

artist Alan Langford writes:

‘I have visited Wickham Horse Fair, in Hampshire, more times than I can remember.

Alan greets a friendly cob.

There has been an annual Charter Fair at Wickham since the thirteenth century, always in late spring, and always, at least in my recollection, a rewarding experience.

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Wickham Fair – large oil painting on canvas by Alan Langford.

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The square becomes a busy profusion of merry-go-rounds, bumper cars and other fairground paraphernalia. A section of the Fareham to Winchester road is closed to traffic and used as a ‘flashing lane’ by the Romani horse traders.

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If you are fascinated by skilled bareback riding then there is no other event, at least in Britain, to compare with it. They are followed by horse-drawn sulkies, their drivers often leading more horses behind them.

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The confidence with which the lads and raklis rush down the gradual slope of the flashing lane, mounted on their coloured Vanners with no saddles or hard hats and unforgiving tarmac underfoot, though dangerously reckless, is also skilfully impressive.

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They are followed by horse-drawn sulkies, their drivers often leading more horses behind them.’

 

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John – see below.

Among the characters I notice when studying the milieu of visitors, those that are of Romani extraction differ in both posture and expression from the curious clusters of the local gorgias.

Many of the Romani are possessed of weathered strong-featured countenances, suggesting a long ancestry of tough individualism.’

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Watch Alan at Wickham Romany Horse Fair (WELGORA) 2019

The 2019 Welgora at Wickham was no exception, as full of excitement and life as ever.

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Horses are brought from as far afield as Birmingham and Newcastle.

High-trotting, coloured horses with big feathered feet are favoured by the Romanies.

Mugs and caddies illustrated with paintings by Alan Langford.

John has been coming to Wickham Fair for 70 years.

A pretty driving horse.

WELGORA and Beaulieu Road pony sales

Beaulieu Road pony sales – oil painting by Alan Langford.

 

Autumn, the time of year for the Beaulieu Road Station pony sales, when Commoners and other horse and pony owners gather to sell their livestock by auction.

It’s a good place to buy a New Forest filly or colt, to meet friends or simply to enjoy an atmosphere that is as old as the New Forest itself.

You may also see spirited cobs, favoured by Romani folk for their patience and strength, being put through their paces under the trees beside the auction ring.

 

The working horse has always fascinated local artist, Alan Langford. Featured here is his large oil painting of Beaulieu Road pony sales.

Alan’s book, WELGORA, provides Alan’s fascinating autobiography and full page spread pictures of his beautiful oil and watercolour paintings.

Welgora-03

An Early Lesson – sketch by Alan Langford.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more about the book click on title – WELGORA