Stowe School, an Inspiration

To build,to plant,whatever you intend,

To rear the Column, or arch to bend,

To swell the Terras, or to sink the Grot;

In all, let Nature never be forgot.

But treat the Goddess like a modest fair,

Nor over-dress, nor leave her wholly bare;

Let not each beauty ev'ry where be spy'd,

Where half the skill is decently to hide.

He gains all points who pleasingly confounds

Surprises, varies, and conceals the Bounds.

Consult the genius of the Place in all;

What tells the waters or to rise, or fall,

Or helps th' ambitious Hill the heav'n to scale,

Or scoops in circling theatres the Vale,

Calls in the Country, catches opening glades,

Joins willing woods'and varies shades from shades,

Now breaks or now directs th' intending Lines;

Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.

Still follow Sense, of ev'ry Art the Soul,

Parts answ'ring parts shall slide into a whole,

Spontaneous beauties all around advance,

Start ev'n from Difficulty, strike from Chance;

Nature shall join you, Time shall make it grow

A Work to wonder at--perhaps a STOWE

                                               

                                                - Alexander Pope

As a child, up to the age of twelve,

I lived at Stowe school in Buckinghamshire.

My Father, Michael Kirk was housemaster of Walpole House from 1972 - 1978.

My best friend lived opposite me and we would spend many hours exploring the grounds with its numerous garden monuments and temples.

At that time many of the buildings were overgrown and falling into disrepair this gave an air of decay and a fairy tale quality to the landscape.

In 1989 The National Trust acquired the gardens from Stowe School who had looked after them since the 1920's and a full programme of restoration of trees, lakes and garden buildings began.

This series of paintings and drawings are based on my childhood and subsequent visits to Stowe as it continues to inspire and fascinate me.

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