Kent Life interviews artist Briony Kapoor, Director of the IMOS Foundation
PUBLISHED: 19:18 25 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:08 20 February 2013
Find out about about the artistic endeavours of New Romney's local artists
Characters from the Marsh
Briony Kapoor, Director of the IMOS Foundation, tells Kent Life about the artistic endeavours of New Romneys local artists
The walls of buildings around New Romney, many of them in or just off the High Street, are bedecked with large murals, 90 paintings in 15 groups.
They are the brainchild of Briony Kapoor, through the IMOS Foundation, a charity she set up privately in memory of her husband, Cambridge professor of history and philosophy of science, Satish Chander Kapoor. IMOS is literally In Memory of Satish.
Briony grew up in New Romney, to which she has a natural attachment. Her father was the local doctor and there was a family tradition of murals - her mother had decorated a holiday home with them so when Briony decided to leave central London, where she had an art gallery,, she moved back to the area with murals on her mind.
The overall title of the works is A Celebration of Romney Marsh and within this framework are subjects of obvious interest, such as churches, flowers and landscape.
Predominantly painted on private properties, as individual permission was easier to obtain, Briony praises the local Sainsburys as being very helpful and it is the site used for several of the works, including the impressive Romney Indigenous, a selection of notable townspeople, created by several artists.
We chose a theme appropriate to both the artist and owner of each site, and all the owners of the sites were very happy with the finished result, says Briony.
There was also some local input in choosing subjects. Briony took a stall at the Country Fayre and the public were asked to select themes and draw their own designs, which were judged and then painted in a dazzling and lively mural by Phillippa Goddard.
Romney Undersea, by Victoria Fontaine Wolfe, includes a mermaid (by popular demand), with narrative elements such as a treasure chest and wrecked ship. The Literary Mural by Ali Stump and Paula MacArthur, a winner of the BP National Portrait Award, pays homage to the writers of the area, including the creators of the famous Dr Syn series.
Other works include the whimsical and comical Proverbial Sheep by James Marsh, which includes some high colour and not just the proverbial black sheep.
I tended to favour local artists, particularly women artists with talent who had perhaps not become as well known as they might, also artists who wanted to join in, provided their work was of an adequate standard, says Briony.
The work was judged by a committee and by the artists themselves, with whom there was an ongoing dialogue. At the moment the list includes Victoria Fontaine Wolf from Sandgate, Phillippa Goddard and Emily Goddard from New Romney, Sue Randle from Lydd, Eleanor Priestley and her daughter Maria from Folkestone, Ali Stump from Cranbrook and Paula MacArthur from Rye.
The male artists are Dee Taylor from Dymchurch, Brian Oxley from West Hythe (formerly profiled in Kent Life), Peter Illesley from Rye, James Marsh from Hythe and occasional participants Phil G (also profiled within these pages) and Ken Fisher from Folkestone.
Outsiders participating are Max Ernst prize winner Elizabeth Weckes from Germany, who benefited from a residency provided by an IMOS offshoot and created a mural of Marsh flowers, and Ryan Kai Orme, who has a double first from Bristol and created a tangential view of the local landscape.
The work gave pleasure to the passers by and to the artist as they created it. We had a lot of attention from passers-by who wanted to add details or commented you could put a mouse in there. Where we could, we included their suggestions.
The murals are created by either painting direct on the wall, or painting on wood and then attaching. Many of the artists adopted the first method, which involved an examination of the wall, cleaning and then painting it first with a pale shade of masonry emulsion. The artist then works with emulsions, although some details may be filled in with acrylics.
We had a lot of attention from passers-by who wanted to add details or commented you could put a mouse in there
The way to transfer a painting is from a sketch with a grid placed over it, which is then transposed onto the wall, but often the artist found that he or she could adapt quickly to the large space and got the hang of working directly onto the wall.
Where the perspective goes wrong it doesnt really matter, as that can add an endearing naivety, says Briony.
Happily, the prospect for creating more murals and continuing the project is almost never-ending, so Briony is happy to carry on and has requests for two murals in Lydd at present.
Brionys endeavour, with her artists and sponsors, has certainly accomplished one of arts major ambitions: To enhance the quality of life. I do consider it important, for enjoyment, attraction, education and record-keeping, she tells me.
All these aspects are fulfilled in the New Romney murals, so take a day out on the Romney Marshes and enjoy these inspiring works of street art.
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The IMOS Foundation, Romney Marsh