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
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.

Artists inspired by the New Forest

Three popular books reduced in price on this website.

The New Forest Artist’s books (links below) are wonderful to browse through and read, and will tempt you to visit our beautiful New Forest.

3 artist’s books

A-Lifetime-in-Postcards

A Lifetime in Postcards by Gervase A Gregory

My-Story-in-Colour

My Story in Colour by Suzan Houching

WelgoraWELGORA by Alan Langford

 

Equestrian Artist’s Inspiration

 

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An inspiring visit

to the

Russell-Cotes

Art Gallery & Museum

Bournemouth

 

 

 

Alan Langford contemplates ‘The Gypsy Horse Drovers’ by Lucy Kemp-Welch

It is a rare treat to visit the work that has inspired a painter, and in the company of that painter.

Alan Langford, equestrian artist and highly skilled graphic artist, invited a group of friends and fellow artists to visit the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery with him to see the large oil, ‘The Gypsy Horse Drovers’ by Lucy Kemp-Welch, painted in 1894 when Lucy was a student under Herbert Von Herkomer RA.

 

 

Lucy Kemp-Welch sketching The Gypsy Drovers on her paint box lid – Illustration by Alan Langford in his book ‘WELGORA

In his book WELGORA Alan wrote about the day when Lucy was inspired to do this painting:

‘The idea for this painting occurred to her when she saw the approach of a number of heavy-hoofed cobs, driven by tough-looking Romany 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 and skillful composition as this irregular, rampant procession proceeded before her.’

 

One of the group inspecting the small head of a horse by Lucy Kemp-Welch. (On the other side of this picture is mounted Lucy’s paint box lid with the sketch for ‘The Gypsy Horse Drovers’)

The curator of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery showed us the actual sketch on the paint box lid.

This stunning little oil sketch is a very special art work in itself, portraying movement and detail in a few quick strokes of the brush, with the texture of the rough wood adding a further dimension.

The paint box lid with Lucy’s quick painted sketch of the Gypsy Horse Drovers mentioned is displayed on the reverse of the picture of a horse’s head shown in this photo, also by Lucy Kemp-Welch.

I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of the box lid, but … what better excuse to go to the art gallery and see it for yourself?

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Part of the scene depicted in ‘The Gypsy Horse Drovers’ by Lucy Kemp-Welch

Lucy went on to paint ‘The Gypsy Horse Drovers’ on an 8 foot long canvas – an enormous project for a diminutive young woman (she was in her early twenties) and in that Victorian time.

Alan explains in his book WELGORA how with trepidation Lucy presented the unfinished painting to be viewed by Herkomer, a man not averse to putting a huge black cross of paint across a student’s work if it was not to his approval!

But as Alan writes: ‘Herkomer was so impressed by ‘The Gypsy Horse Drovers’ that he recommended that Lucy submit it for the next Royal Academy Exhibition.

This she did, and it was hung in a good position just above the line and was quickly purchased by Sir Frederic Harris for £60.00.

At that time £60.00 represented a significant sum; Lucy would have been overjoyed.’

Barry Miles and Peter Frost discuss ‘Gypsy Horses’ by Lucy Kemp-Welch

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This was just the beginning of Lucy’s career, which included illustrating the children’s book, Black Beauty.

(There are links below to buy a beautiful edition of the book Black Beauty illustrated by Lucy Kemp-Welch and prints of the illustrations.)

Her large oil ‘Gypsy Horses’, also in the Russell-Cotes Gallery, is shown in this photo being admired by Barry Miles, author and watercolour artist, and Peter Frost, painter, professional printer and retired New Forest Verderer.

 

There is something different to see at every turn in the Russell-Cotes Gallery – paintings, marble busts, Japanese incense burners, memorabilia, painted ceilings, stained glass, mosaic work and bronzes, all collected by the Russell-Cotes over the years from 1880 to 1901. Once after a trip to Japan, they travelled back with over 100 packing cases full of art and collectables!

The museum and gallery building, East Cliff Hall, was gloriously designed to the directions of Merton Russell-Cotes, as a gift to his wife. Its late Victorian style mixes Moorish, Japanese and French influences, making for exotic and indulgent surroundings.

It’s easy to find a piece to sit in front of and savour, and it’s also easy to miss a dozen others, but this makes it worth visiting again and again.

 

Near life size boy in Parian ware

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Apart from the paintings, the artwork that particularly took my eye on this visit was a glazed Parian ware figure of a boy, dressed in lederhosen and Tyrolean hat.
I used to make ceramic models of people and the largest I made was quite a challenge at about 12 inches tall.
This nearly life size figure was used for advertising in a dairy shop in Austria.
How did the artist make such a perfectly detailed piece of such size and how was it transported from pottery to shop, and then from country to country to arrive at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery?

 

A part of the painting ‘The Little Beggar’ by Laura Knight

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I was also intrigued by the story of Laura Knight, who in the early 1930s used to drive out to gypsy encampments and set up her ‘studio’ in the back of her Rolls-Royce.
Here you can see only a part of her large canvas ‘The Little Beggar’.
Laura Knight’s most notable work is ‘The Nuremberg Trial‘. This thought-provoking painting is at The Imperial War Museum, London.
This only touches on the artwork at the gallery and museum.
Next time you’re in Bournemouth, why not get away from the beach and walk up East Cliff to the art gallery and museum. It will be well worth it!

 

Anthony Ridgway winner of the Barbara Large Memorial Prize

A wonderful and well-deserved surprise for

author, Anthony Ridgway,

awarded the

Barbara Large Memorial Prize

at the Hampshire Writers’ Society evening, June 2019.

To see Anthony receive news of the award, watch the video by clicking on the photo below –

(HINT: The sound is much better on iphone – don’t know why, but if you want to hear what David Suchet says, then listen on your i device.)

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Anthony Ridgway’s books

WIZZY the Animal Whisperer

and

WIZZY and the Seaside Adventure

both beautifully illustrated by artist Suzan Houching

delight readers, young and old(er)!

To find out more click on the pictures:

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

 

Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure – book launch

On 14th July 2018, a huge crowd gathered at The Point, Eastleigh, for the launch of Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure by author, Anthony Ridgway, and artist, Suzan Houching. 

Among those attending were Sheila and David Suchet, Ros Holness and Tina Fanshawe. 

Anthony gave a speech full of humour, praising his mother, Grethe, as his ‘harshest critic’, and thanking Barbara Large for helping him hone his writing skills. 

David and Sheila Suchet read a section from Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure, and Wizzy the wheelchair, of course got a look in, making a phone call half way through the reading!

Tina Fanshawe’s horse, Nellie, was the inspiration for the plot in Anthony’s first book, Wizzy the Animal Whisperer. In Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure, Honey, the dog, shows the same empathy, helping the children bring to justice some rascally thieves.

Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure – book launch photos

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More than 90 people attended the launch of 'Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure' on July 14th 2018, at The Point, Eastleigh.

01---Ant's-speech

Anthony announces his new book 'Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure'. From left to right - Sheila and David Suchet, Ros Holness, Jane Ridgway, Anthony Ridgway, Grethe Ridgway, Suzan Houching.

03---Ant-giving-speech

Anthony praises his 'harshest critic' - Grethe Ridgway.

04---David-&-Sheila-read-to

A rapt audience as David and Sheila Suchet read a section from 'Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure'.

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Wizzy the irascible wheelchair! Wizzy interrupts the reading.

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Wizzy creates an amazing diversion in 'Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure'.

07---Ant-meets-fans

Anthony Ridgway meets fans.

08---Ant-puts-sticker-in-bo

Anthony signs a book with his sticker 'EVERYWHERE WITH WIZZY'.

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Suzan Houching, artist and illustrator of 'Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure', signs books.

10---Jordan-&-Tim-selling

Jordan and Tim - the fantastic volunteer book selling team.

12---boy-colouring

Suzan Houching's wonderful pictures were printed in black and white for colouring.

11---Oscar's-colouring

A young fan with his colouring of a scene from the book.

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Children love the Wizzy books. They can be read again and again and enjoyed for the adventure story, the fabulous illustrations and the funny moments created by Wizzy the hi-tech wheelchair not understanding the idiom of human speech.

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David Suchet signs Anthony's copy of 'Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure'.

15b---David-signing-book

David Suchet signing books for young fans.

15a---David-signing-colourin

... and David Suchet signing colouring pages too!

Sheila,-David-and-Phaedra

Time for selfies!

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Tina Fanshawe, the owner of Nellie the horse who took Anthony for a ride when on holiday and inspired his first book, 'Wizzy the Animal Whisperer', posing with Anthony and Grethe Ridgway.

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One of Anthony's keenest young fans poses with his mum and Anthony.

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Suzan Houching shows her portfolio of original watercolour paintings for 'Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure'.

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Suzan showing her portfolios of work - one for each Wizzy book, to David Suchet, Ros Holness, Sheila Suchet and Emma Scott of Calibre Audio Library. The audio book of 'Wizzy the Animal Whisperer' will be available shortly.

The beautifully illustrated large format Wizzy books can be read again and again and enjoyed at many levels – for the adventure story, for the fabulous pictures, to read out loud or to read in your head … although it’s hard not to laugh out loud at the funny moments created by Wizzy the hi-tech wheelchair, who takes everything literally and cannot understand the idiom of human speech.

Click here to buy Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure  ISBN: 9780993507878 

Click here to find out how Anthony writes.

If you are from a school or retail outlet and would like to know more, please contact Jenny on mail@littleknollpress.co.uk

Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure – book launch 14th July

 

A NEW WIZZY STORY IS ON ITS WAY!

Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure

 

Last chance to come

to the BOOK LAUNCH of this super new book

Saturday 14th July 2018, 10.30am – 12.30pm, The Point, Eastleigh.

RSVP to Jenny@LittleKnollPress.co.uk 

 

         < launch invitation 

more about the book >

 

 

 

 

You can also watch a video showing Anthony Ridgway and Suzan Houching at work:

Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure – work in progress

 

To buy the book