The Friends of Lydiard Park are delighted to accept the gift of a picture of the carved screen inside St Mary’s Church by local artist and former Head of Art at Commonweal School, Ken Beint. Ken made the picture when he was a young art student in the 1950s and it spent more than 60 years in a folder before he decided to present it to the Friends for future safe keeping.
Local historian Frances Bevan caught up with Ken to find out more about his story:
“I first made the drawing sitting in the church then at home I added some sepia and ink work and then a wash to make it more interesting. I had been at Lydiard painting the house and the big tree for my university thesis on landmarks of Swindon” said Ken.
Ken was born in 1933 the son of William Beint, a Stores Inspector in the GWR, and his wife Winifred. He grew up in Gorse Hill, attending Ferndale Road Junior School and Headlands Grammar. Ken talks proudly of his father William, another talented artist, who specialised in sporting cartoons published by the Borough Press in Swindon’s Football Pink.
“Dad wasn’t allowed to go to art school to train professionally and he always said if any child of his showed any promise he’d pay for them to learn how to draw.”
Ken went on to gain a National Diploma in Design at Swindon School of Art followed by an Art Teacher’s Diploma at Birmingham University. He returned to Swindon in 1954 and a post as art teacher at Pinehurst School where one of his pupils was the future muralist Ken White. In 1968 he left Pinehurst to become Head of Art at The Commonweal School where he taught for a further 15 years.
In 1983 Ken took early retirement and at the age of 50 began his second, successful career. A job which initially began as sign writing soon developed into something quite different when Ken was asked to paint a 1930s Parisian Street scene for a wine event at Olympia in London sponsored by the Sunday Times and the Bordeaux wine region of France. For the next 15 years Ken worked on numerous projects across Wiltshire, many of which still survive today.
Sarah Finch-Crisp, Chair of the Friends of Lydiard Park said:
“We are very pleased to accept this gift from Ken. It is unusual to discover a painting of the church from the 1950’s and it is an important record of the building at that time. ”
The Friends of Lydiard Park plan to have the painting conserved and framed before donating it to Lydiard House museum, ensuring it is available for research and exhibitions in the future. Swindon Borough Council officer, Frances Yeo, who is responsible for the collections at Lydiard House said,
‘We are delighted that the Friends of Lydiard Park have given Ken’s painting to Lydiard House. It’s great to have an artistic representation of St Mary’s Church interior from the 1950s, painted by a talented Swindon artist.’