Thursday, 28 April 2011

David Hepher at Kings Place

David Hepher, La Francaise, 1985

Eric Ravilious, Vicarage, 1935
The view today
Artists leave a legacy beyond the inventory of their work and the story of their lives. The influence of artists who have been dead a half-century or more can still be seen in the work of living painters and sculptors - and not just in the work. As David Hepher explained in Saffron Walden the other day: in his case it was probably the fact that he knew Eric Ravilious that made him become a painter at all.

Since Ravilious died almost seventy years ago there aren't too many people left who knew him. David was asked to share a few thoughts and memories at the launch of the show 'Ravilious in Essex', which is currently running at the Fry Art Gallery, and he began by admitting that his memories were few; he was only a child when Ravilious died.
The Old Vicarage (note Wellingtonia)

They knew one another because Guy Hepher was vicar of St Nicholas church in Castle Hedingham when the Ravilious family lived in the village. They had one of those rare family friendships where each member is friends with their opposite number - Eric with Guy, Tirzah with Evelyn, and David with John, who was his age - and during the very cold winters of the late 1930s Eric and family took refuge at the vicarage - where David remembered them all sweeping snow off the roof of the enormous house (today, the 'Old Vicarage').
St Nicholas, Castle Hedingham

Guy Hepher's Plan of St Nicholas, 1937
David's father was evidently both cultured and curious. The vicar explored his church and its records, and one winter's day Ravilious found him at work - as the artist wrote in a letter at the time - 'drawing out a plan of the church in seven colours – for each period – and cheered him on and offered him stick ink to pull it all together.’ The plan is there today, on the wall of St Nicholas, behind the main door as you go in.
David Hepher, Study for the Wandsworth Road Estate III, 2007
That plan was made in 1937. Over seventy years later David Hepher is a respected artist and teacher of artists, best known for his paintings of tower blocks and other architecturally-inspired urban scenes. His work is detailed, atmospheric and idiosyncratic, the canvases covered in graffiti like the walls of the buildings he represents. But he has for many years, on holidays spent in France, also been painting pastoral landscapes, and these are about to be shown for the first time alongside his urban pictures at the Kings Place gallery in Kings Cross. Entitled 'A Song of the Earth and the Cry of Concrete', the show opens on 6 May. Meanwhile, an hour or so up the M11, Ravilious's paintings of David's childhood home are hanging on the walls of the Fry Art Gallery. Together these two exhibitions tell a fascinating story of tradition, influence and change. FFI: Kings Place Gallery
Fry Art Gallery


  1. Anonymous09 May, 2011

    Hi James - hope you enjoyed The London Snorkelling team!

    Just wanted to say how interesting I found this as I love David Hepher's work. Many years ago I worked at Flowers East where I fell in love with his views of south London estates, particularly parts of Stockwell I seem to remember.

  2. Hi Charlotte - good to hear from you. I thoroughly enjoyed the Snorkellers, and I'm glad we ran into you too... I went to see David's show at Kings Place (5 mins from Kings Cross) the other day and his work is extraordinary... Funny to think he was raised in a picture postcard Essex village

  3. hi, just wanted to let you know that david has a new show opening at the end of january at flowers east. the show will feature heavily on the aylesbury estate in walworth. pls preview them on