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.