My visit to Newmarket in July:
Moet and Chandon July Festival
It was such a pleasure to be attending the Moet and Chandon festival at The July Course. The Course itself and the beautiful tree lined pre-parade ring provides such a pretty setting for the racing and the crowds. With period style buildings with thatched roofs and the charm of the weighing in room building/winners area, and the paddock itself. It was incredibly refreshing to see a course visually unspoiled by corporate advertising, and thus retaining its charm.
Ladies Day was a stunning spectacle of stylish fashion, with knockout hats, gorgeous dresses and vibrant colour everywhere one looked. A great atmosphere with parties of racegoers relaxing in the sunshine with picnics, and gathered around the paddock, grandstand and the finishing post, in eye catching rows of colourful finery. The whole spectacle was of a piece….the glistening horses, jockeys in scintillating silks, and the beautiful flowers and planting around the course. I found myself spending more time people watching, mixing colours, and playing on paper with the incredible, sculptural shapes of some of the hats, than watching the races themselves, such was the visual punch and pull of the Newmarket Ladies Day Crowd. And as I was also revisiting on the Saturday for The Darley Cup, fortunately i could afford to make the most of this opportunity….
Back in the studio, after my visit, I sorted through my sketches and photographs, delighted at the sheer saturation and depth of colour. This whole summer has been noticeably un English in hue, with a stronger Mediterranean light. New paint pigments were added to my usual palette, to capture and do justice to the colours displayed in the jockeys’ silks for my watercolours of them entering the paddock.
I also started to work on a large scale pastel painting of racehorses and riders, calmly waiting down at the start, just before being approached by the handlers to enter the starting stalls (in fact a scene from the evening Spring meeting at The Rowley Mile, watched a month beforehand), I found a bright blue background a striking base from which to work up the rich warm colours and accents of the horses coats….and creating the feeling of those bright blue skies.
The Residency Launch Event at The British Racing School
July 13th saw the evening drinks event and launch of the artist residency at The BRS. With the newly completed courtyard at the School used for the occasion, we put up an informal display of some of my recent equestrian artworks and sketchbooks, and it was great to meet and have a chance to talk at length with some of the BRS trustees, staff and associates. And also to catch up with some friends from London and my previous artist residency at Charlie Longsdon Racing, who were interested to see what the Newmarket Residency was all about. I was intrigued to see some of my latest Newmarket sketches blown up in scale and displayed on the big screen in the entrance foyer, as a slideshow. Thank you Grant … such a great idea, and a note to self to maybe also work on a larger scale in future! It was delightful to meet so many people including Martin Mitchell, Chairman of the BRS, Andrew Merriam, current trustee and Nigel Elwes, former Chairman of the BRS. My sincere thanks to everyone who travelled to be part of the launch event. A huge thank you to Maria Baker and all the team for their hard work and support for the evening.