A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing Simon Chambers who is a local artist. Simon has been working hard to produce a series of paintings to be displayed at the 44th Year the Ayot St Lawrence Art Show in the beautiful Palladian Church. Each year the Art Show attracts many hundreds of visitors. The success of the Show is ultimately down to the quality of the artwork. The Art Show began life in 1974 as a means of raising money for conservation projects to maintain and protect the fabric of St Lawrence Church. This continues today. To find out more details about the show here is a link https://www.ayotartshow.co.uk/
Watching Simon at work made me realise that what a wonder talent and gift he has and I found myself mesmerized looking at his paintings. Like all my Hertfordshire humans I ask for a motto and some information.. here is what Simon wrote……
‘Et in Arcadia Ego; Even in Arcadia, I am Here. My name is Simon Chambers and I am the informal artist in residence at the Church of Ayot St Lawrence. I have taught for nearly 21 years now in Hertfordshire and now need to spend more time making work about my life I am exploring the theme of Et in Arcadia Ego, the English countryside and how the land changes and evolves. I draw and paint from what I see and perceive, it takes time to understand rather than react. I was born in North London and my earliest memories were playing in Broadwater Farm’s car park on the way home from school. We moved to Hatfield to a Circle 33 housing association house which was a much better option than one with mouse, rats and bed bugs. School was a mess for me; it was like living in a fog, but the art department made sense and especially the legend that was Hatfield School’s. I could make things, learn and live it. The way people helped and guided me is why I teach; it’s a duty rather than a job. I went to art school as I wanted to keep drawing and painting, eventually ending up at the Slade School of Fine Art, where two people were selected to the Life room that year as postgraduate students. Some called us the chosen ones. We painted one sustained pose for a term from 9 am to 3.30 pm 5 days a week in natural light. It was like being in rock and roll band, painting all day and talking and drinking after about art. London in the 1990’s was very special.
Like London, Hertfordshire is full of hidden magic, you need to tune into it and it reveals itself. The Church of Ayot St Lawrence is such, built on a dark past and stands watching like a sentinel the landscape and world change round it. The sense of an unbroken chain of 243 years of rituals and patterns of the Church has connections with the artist, looking, seeing, making and having a deep understanding of what they are experiencing. Living in a photographic world and instant reactions; drawing and painting from what we see and perceive, becomes more important. We need contemplation and a considered distilled opinion about what we are seeing, experiencing and perceiving. We live in a wonderful world that is deeply traumatised, perhaps by the fact we can access everything at once. Like Pandora’s box the last thing to come of it is Hope.
Finally if you want to get the chance to purchase Simons exclusive works of the church then you need to get along to the art show this weekend.