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In 2021 we were delighted to launch our Residency programme; a programme designed to inspire and support emerging local artists and creative practitioners. Our Residencies incubate creativity and productivity as well as providing a platform to support local businesses and entrepreneurial spirit. Our Artist in Residence is one of our key ambassadors, supporting and championing our many creative projects and initiatives.

Meet our current Artist in Residence: James Murch

James has been drawing and painting from a very young age, something that has always been encouraged by his family, in fact, so much so that he was even allowed to paint murals on the walls at home as a child!

James went to art college in Bristol for a while, before leaving to work at various industries alongside his artistic practice.

James started with specialising in portraiture and the figure, but after quickly exhausting his supply of willing sitters, he began taking his painting outdoors. This is something James continues to this day, as he says: “It’s an incredibly satisfying and a much more accessible way to work directly with the subject”.

Several of James’ works in portraiture and landscape were shortlisted for the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition which gave him the confidence to paint at busier locations such as Cockington Court, where he met Centre Director, Marissa Wakefield and got involved in an exhibition.

“My practice includes oil painting, printmaking and more recently, sculpture, taking inspiration from my natural surroundings”

Sky’s Artist of the Year

James appeared on Sky’s Landscape Artist of the Year as a main contestant, making it to the semi-finals which aired in 2020. James’ paintings went on to sell at a major gallery in Mayfair. This then led to a solo exhibition at Cockington Court and a Devon Open Studios bursary award the same year.

Artist In Residence

“During lockdown in 2021, Marissa had seen my use of the grounds as an appropriate way of bringing the outdoors indoors at that time and so, offered me an Artist in Residency at Cockington Court and an opportunity to apply for my own studio, using the surrounding country park as my inspiration.

I was encouraged to use this time to develop my painting, experiment, explore different mediums, and attend South Devon College to try different printmaking techniques.

Thanks to the residency, I have gained valuable insight from working in a gallery environment, setting up exhibitions both on site and at Art and Craft Festivals, representing Cockington Court as an advocate, as well as staffing the Welcome Point and meeting visitors and art collectors.

The residency has run alongside a programme of curated exhibitions, allowing me to showcase the work I am doing, whilst all the time fostering an environment of creative exploration, which has included painting a mural on the wall of the kitchen gallery” – James Murch.

Come and pay us a visit and you may just catch James busy at work, painting another beautiful piece of artwork inspired by our acres of stunning parkland.

Woodland Tapestry’ – By James Murch

“Woodland Tapestry is, by far, the most challenging and the largest painting in my career to date…

My process for developing a painting always begins with walking the grounds until a particular view resonates with me in some way.

The Sycamore tree in Cockington Park caught my attention, reaching toward me with moss laden branches highlighted with lichen. Although, it wasn’t so much the tree alone as the part it played in framing the receding planes of cooler hues with its complex network of branches. In some areas punctuated with colourful remnants of autumn and early signs of new growth.
Winter turned to spring over the course of the painting, but my impression of an elaborate woven tapestry was the abiding memory.

I made regular visits to the sycamore as the painting progressed, often just to sit and observe. The changes in weather, with all of the sounds, smells and the wildlife that made an appearance as I sat and watched, kept my curiosity and imagination, and the whole process, fresh and alive.”

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