This month our “Friend of the Month” is Billy Beaumont who talks here about what he loves about Lydiard and how he draws inspiration from the house and historic landscape. Billy writes:
“I have been a member of The Friends of Lydiard Park for 3 years but a friend of the park for over 20 years.
I love the fact that Swindon has such a historical park that can be enjoyed by everyone, with both the house and St Mary’s church also being open to visit. Being a member of The Friends of Lydiard Park is a fab way of being informed of everything about Lydiard, past, present and future, with ample opportunities to take an active part in its upkeep and history.
I’m a local artist and find Lydiard Park to be an endless supply of inspiration and practice, not just for me but also for my art students. I provide art therapy sessions for various groups including a dementia group, community well-being groups, and especially crafty friends belonging to Reach Inclusive Arts.
The walled garden is a particular favourite spot for my students, providing a friendly and relaxed atmosphere for us to practise our sketching and watercolour work. Our visits benefit the group in many ways, visually and artistically of course, but also provides social interactions and confidence building that some may not have access to elsewhere, all within an inspiring environment.
As a local artist I am mainly known for abstract portraiture, or ‘quirkism’, as some may say, yet the practice of different styles and techniques is essential for my own progression. After viewing the Brood Mare in the Grounds of Lydiard Park by George Stubbs, I was inspired to produce a series of paintings in the style of old masters, containing Lydiard House and St Mary’s church, as a means to raise awareness of the park. Lydiard House also features in my town centre mural entitled, ‘Swindon, Then, When & Now’, which is located at Theatre Square, designed in my style and expertly painted by the residents of Swindon!
Through the Friends of Lydiard Park I heard about a volunteering opportunity to assist in the St Mary’s church conservation project. I excitedly put in 160 hours work! It was a fascinating experience uncovering history, expertly guided by some of the world’s best conservators, learning techniques of preservation on site and assisting all of the conservation team with their work. It’s been a memorable venture that has crossed over into my own work as an artist, also creating a fresh line of work for me recording historical graffiti, or caliglyphs, as a better term, within the local area.