It is always a special trip to see Paul, Serena and Nat and this adventure was no different. A rare and long-awaited outing given all the recent travel restrictions we have all experienced. As I drove through the rolling hills of Dorset the sparkling sea came into view and the landscape opened up to reveal the bustling town of Bridport, which Paul and his family now call their home.
Finalising a special commission with a great client was a marvellous excuse to spend time with these lovely friends, see what wonderful new work Paul has on his easel, discuss ideas for future paintings over dinner and catch up on the world of art.
First stop after a strong Italian coffee was the studio and down to business. An Aladdin's cave of intriguing props for paintings, wine bottles, feathers, pigments and brushes, to name a few. Walking into Paul’s new studio I was overwhelmed by every sense. Everywhere you look stand shelves of eclectic treasures, floor to ceiling, ready for the next reincarnation into a masterpiece on canvas. Eye-catching powdery pigments of intense hues sit carefully behind glass in wooden cabinets, alongside much-loved brushes of every shape and size, the tools of Paul’s creativity. Warmth radiates from this studio and that distinctive smell of linseed oil for his homemade paints. Proudly displayed are Paul’s aircraft models, painstakingly built over three decades, and which are without a doubt, executed with the same degree of love and perfection we find in his paintings.
Paul’s eye and attention to detail is second to none. On his easel, in front of a vast compendium of wine bottles, sits a spectacular painting destined to be a tour du force of wine painting. There is a magical light in this part of the world, and it is not a coincidence that Paul’s paintings capture that atmosphere and luminosity on canvas and in particular the different glass and reflections. Paul’s studio is a small window into his heart and mind. His laid-back joie de vivre and unhurried manner are infectious and spending time with such a munificent host fills up the bucket!
Bridport is a fascinating town and later that morning Paul kindly gave me the tour, starting in the main street. As I climbed up the hill towards our lunch destination, I noticed the road was particularly wide, which Paul explained was due to the town’s rich rope making heritage. Houses on the main street were previously used to dry ropes, draped across the road from first storey windows, after they had been spun in long gardens behind the houses. Gruesomely, ropes for gallows used to be made in the town, hence the phrase "stabbed with a Bridport dagger" being used to describe a hanging. Gory details aside, the town is a delight, full of crafts and independent specialist retailers with many a kindred spirit from the butchers to the bookshop.
Back at home we shared a meal cooked by Paul, with an Italian twist clearly inspired by his days at the Florence Academy. We chatted until late in the evening, celebrating a productive day with a wonderful bottle of wine, that will no doubt appear in another of Paul’s paintings soon. Serena and Paul’s hospitality is legendary and I can’t wait for the next visit.