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Thames magic at Eynsham

27 Mar 2006 / in about art, Oxfordshire

Thames magic at Eynsham is my favourite painting I have ever made.

It shows an imagined aerial view of the Thames as it passes Eynsham in west Oxfordshire, where I live. The river meanders delightfully through verdant water meadows before passing beneath Swinford Toll Bridge and turning round Beacon Hill and Wytham Woods towards Oxford. The viewpoint is taken from above a bathing place where my son and I like to go in the summer.

It’s beautiful down there and full of life. The river is full of fish – Rupert has pulled countless perch out of the waters – and home to birds, butterflies, moths and plants some of which are shown in my painting. One very hot day when Rupert and I had gone down to cool off, we lay in the meadow drying off and counted more than 16 species of grasses within sight of where we had flopped.

I have my suspicions that this was a place used by prehistoric people too. Before the bridge was built in the 18th century there was a ford in the river at this point which had probably been in use for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. This part of Oxfordshire is archaeologically rich in prehistoric (Neolithic and Bronze Age) barrows, henges and stones, many of which have been trashed by quarrying, but still a few remain visible from the air only by cropmarks. The spirals and ancient animal figures I have painted in the centre of the picture, just to the left of the river, is my acknowledgement of our pioneering ancestors who first settled here.

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