A brief post this week as The Folly Flâneuse has been racing around at a somewhat faster pace than her usual omnipercipient strolling. However, the lovely images by John Piper will make up for the paucity of words.
After the Easter heatwave the weather broke just as The Folly Flâneuse arrived at Stowe – the photo above shows the view from the grotto, which gave some much needed protection from one of the heaviest of the showers. On the plus side, no-one else was about, and The Folly Flâneuse had Stowe all to herself.
The (re)visit was inspired by the image below, which featured in a recent exhibition put together by Neil Jennings Fine Art.
John Piper (1903-1992) first visited Stowe in the 1930s when he summed up the faded glory of the gardens with the evocative phrase ‘pleasing decay’. In that decade it was suggested that a book of views of Stowe would be well-received, but although Piper remained a regular visitor to the park, and produced many views in a range of media, the project stalled for decades.
Eventually, in 1983, John Piper’s Stowe was published as a limited edition by the Hurtwood Press, in association with the Tate Gallery. The foreword was written by Piper himself and the images were accompanied by a commentary by Mark Girouard, who described the park as ‘a diamond which flashes in a different way, depending on the angle one looks at it.’
To give Piper the final word on Stowe: ‘There is no end to the things one can paint there, and dream about.’
John Piper’s works can be seen in collections across the country and further afield. His love for follies was not restricted to Stowe and he painted Clytha Castle in Wales, Dinton Folly in Buckinghamshire and the buildings at Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire, amongst many others. There’s a gallery dedicated to his life and work in the lovely River and Rowing Museum in Henley on Thames https://www.rrm.co.uk/visit/galleries/piper-gallery/
Start saving now for a selling (and loan) exhibition at London’s Portland Gallery in September http://www.portlandgallery.com/exhibitions/667/about/john-piper
More on Stowe here https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe