From as long as I can remember I have always loved Folk Art and Traditional Decorative Painting. As a
youngster I regularly went to Stow on the Wold Horse Fair with my family. It used to have an auction
in one of the fields with Gypsy wagons lining the road with stalls. In the main square was a little
fairground. Little did I realise at the time that I would be friends with the families there and spend
time travelling in wagons on the road myself.
In my teens I had friends with working boats living in Gas Street Basin in Birmingham, and on the cut
in the Coventry area.
They worked selling coal in the winter and turned their boats into holiday boats for the Summer,
filling them with bunk beds. If you were the first trip out you would often wake up wiyh a bit of coal
dust on your face. Ian Sly who worked on the boat called 'Comet' told me about the techniques and
tools used to paint the roses and castles and the boat graining that everyone called 'scumbling'. The
more I saw of the painting around the more I recognised the individual painters styles.
On the Fairgrounds one style of decoration stood out a mile...t was the work of Fred Fowle.....The
master. I wrote to him and was lucky to visit him many times at his workshop in Battersea. Roger
Vinney a champion woodgrainer and Mark Gill a fantastic painter were also working there at the time.
I later met Mr and Mrs Billy Hall, of the Hall and Fowle fame. You couldn't wish to meet a lovelier
couple. Billy Hall taught me the fairground marbling techniques.
Every time I visited a signwriting studio like the Whitbread Bewery Artists, other Fairground Artists
such as Pete Tei and John Pockett I looked at there shelves of paint, the brushes and materials used,
constantly learning..my eyes were everywhere !
I've now been self employed for over twenty years !..How time flies when you are having fun !