In an age when camera phones rule, it’s quite refreshing to see someone capturing the Goodwood Revival in a more traditional way. Recently announced Goodwood Artist in Residence Jeremy Houghton explored the event with his sketch book, literally drawing inspiration from the plethora of sights around him – though he did occasionally use a camera to capture some of the faster paced moments. His sketches and photos will now be used as visual notes for paintings that will contribute to his ‘Horsepower’ collection, inspired by the Estate.
His base during the event was his great grandfather’s 1935 3.5-litre Bentley Derby Vanden Plas, which has an incredible 660,000 miles (and counting) on the clock. The car competed heavily in period and with much success, including a victory in the Scottish RAC Rally with Houghton’s grandmother at the wheel. Houghton’s great uncle used it as part of the Home Front fire brigade in Coventry during WWII and the wooden dash is littered with competition badges. Ten years ago Houghton’s father gave the car a complete overhaul, before gifting it to his son as a 40th birthday present.
Jeremy drove the car to the event packed with an easel, paints, his much-loved teddy bear from his school days and a tent which, by his own admission, was rather ropey and needed taping together. He parked up beside the Earl’s Court show and set about taking in the Revival atmosphere and capturing what he saw. He said: ‘I am fascinated by history. I love old photos and negatives. Revival brings a bygone era back to life, so I was spoilt for choice. The combination of history and speed make perfect subject matter for me, as I try and make my paintings look like old photographs.’
Working at an event as big as the Revival was an unusual challenge for the artist, who specialises in painting the negative spaces around objects. ‘With the finished paintings, I eliminate detail to enhance the feeling of speed, and I use a limited palette to evoke the impression of old photographs and negatives,’ he said. ‘I’m not really used to having such a big audience. Normally on a residence I like to skirt the edges and quietly observe. At Revival I was right in the middle, and both my old Bentley and the paintings seemed to lure a lot of people in. It was lovely as so many of them were genuinely interested.’
Some guests were more than a little intrigued by Houghton’s work, with two of his display works attracting a surprise sale. Houghton said, ‘A mechanic came and saw my pictures and was able to tell from them exactly which cars they were and who owned them. Amazingly, both cars and their owners were at Revival so he got them over to see them.’
Despite all the incredible cars racing the historic motor circuit, it was the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation exhibition that really inspired Houghton. He said, ‘You expect the old cars at Goodwood Revival, but what was a real bonus this year was seeing all the Spitfires. Another angle which I explore with my work is flight, so seeing all these historic planes – which are so iconic and quintessentially British – was very inspiring. I am looking forward to painting more of these.’
You can read more about Jeremy Houghton’s Goodwood residency here.
Photography by Stefan Booth at Brightspark Photographic