The Stowe Centenary Project

Paintings and Sketches of Stowe

by Anthony Eyton RA and Mark Flawn-Thomas (Grenville 72)

Five years ago, a fellow artist friend of mine asked if I would like to join her at a life drawing class.

She said there were two things I should be aware of, the first that she was bringing her 89 year old ex-tutor from Camberwell Art School and the second that the class was being held in a pole dancing club in Bishopsgate.

Thus started my friendship with Anthony Eyton RA. The evening itself was challenging from an artistic viewpoint as the lithe models never held a pose for more than 15 seconds so our frenzied sketches looked more like a scene from the Mid-West in tornado season.

I have always painted but only started exhibiting in the last five years. I became Tony’s pupil and easel carrier on his next project to paint the Hawksmoor churches for an exhibition in Spitalfields.

Shortly afterwards, my daughter Georgia started at Stowe and I asked the Headmaster if he would mind if Tony and I did some painting in the grounds. This inspired the Headmaster to commission Tony to do a series of paintings and sketches in celebration of the forthcoming centenary of the School. Co-incidentally Tony will turn 100 six days after the Stowe Centenary, on the 11 May 2023.

We have been painting at Stowe for four years trying to capture not only the beauty and magnificence of the architecture and grounds but importantly to record the activities of the School itself. This has involved painting in the Music School, Chapel, a chemistry class, on the rugby and cricket pitches and, much to the embarrassment of my daughter and son, in the State Dining Room at lunchtime. This has been a fascinating project and will continue for the next few years, however, there will be a preliminary exhibition of the works to date in the Marble Saloon on Speech Day in May this year.

The paintings will then be moved to London for an exhibition in The Cello Factory from the 26 June 2018. This magnificent gallery is the home of the London Group founded in 1913 and of which Tony is now the oldest member, past members include Burra, Auerbach, Moore and Hockney.

It is an honour to work with Tony who is an inspiration to us all as he is still at his easel every day. He currently has a one-man show on display in the Friends Room at the Royal Academy. The Headmaster described these works as having the freshness and innovative quality of someone 70 years younger than him.

For those of you who wish to follow our progress, please visit the Stowe website: www.stowe.co.uk

Mark Flawn-Thomas (Grenville 72)

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