Gerard Stamp

The painter makes real to others his innermost feelings about all that he cares for. A secret becomes known to everyone who views the picture through the intensity with which it is felt.  

 

LUCIaN FREUD

 

Why do I paint churches? I have never found it an easy question to answer. I have certainly loved architecture – particularly medieval architecture – for as long as I remember. I admire the great houses and castles handed down to us, but I have never had the same passion to paint them. I also adore ruins, whatever the original purpose of the structure might have been.


What I try to paint of course is the feeling of a place. Constable's famous quote, "Painting is but another word for feeling",  still holds true 200 years later. I am attracted by the melancholy, the timelessness, the stillness of a simple country church or the solemn ruins of a once great abbey. These are hardly new or ‘original’ subjects for an artist’s attention (quite the contrary) but that is no reason not to interpret them anew, with fresh eyes.


But there is something else. John Ruskin wrote: "The greatest glory of a building is not in its stones, nor in its gold. Its glory is in its Age, and in that deep sense of voicefulness, of stern watching, of mysterious sympathy, nay, even of approval or condemnation, which we feel in walls that have long been washed by the passing waves of humanity… it is in that golden stain of time, that we are to look for the real light, and colour, and preciousness of architecture.”


The idea that a structure made out of brick and stone can somehow impart ‘approval’ or ‘condemnation’ may be to the modern cynic at best unduly romantic and at worst utterly ridiculous. But it is this anthropomorphism, and the feeling of being able to touch the “passing waves of humanity”, which give spirit to these places and attracts me to them.


We live in exciting times, but they are angry, crowded, and uncertain. In an age of change and transience I find myself searching for constancy. I need to reaffirm and celebrate all that is beautiful, and to express what it feels like to be ‘at the still point of the turning world’.

 

Gerard Stamp