Berkshire news - May 2014

PUBLISHED: 11:00 24 May 2014

Painting Breach Copse Lodge drew the attention of nearby sheep

Painting Breach Copse Lodge drew the attention of nearby sheep


The latest news and views from acrosss the county

Jamie Snowden with Present ViewJamie Snowden with Present View

Stick with a winning combination

Berkshire Life is now officially ‘lucky’ for Lambourn trainer Jamie Snowden, and we’re delighted to tell you why.

For our March issue we visited his stables and, from all the beautiful horses there, chose to feature a photo of Jamie with Present View, who then went on to win at 8-1 on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival, a brilliant achievement for a young trainer with a small yard.

For Jamie there was anxiety before the result was announced as Present View had to survive a lengthy stewards’ inquiry. As part of a Great British Racing test he’d agreed to have a heart rate monitor put on him before racing started and noticed it was on 170 beats a minute when the inquiry result was declared. He says: “I’ve discovered your heart beat reaches 175 when parachuting out of a plane – I’m sure mine went well past that while we were waiting for the result.”

We’ve had to confess to the Snowdens that we didn’t have so much as £1 each way on Present View, particularly bad form since our favourite young jockey, Brendan Powell, was on board. Next time!

Picture this: your home on canvas

Artists often choose to specialise in a painting style, but for some professionals a reputation can draw you in a certain direction, and so it has been for Christopher Hall of Newbury.

An artist whose painting of St Hugh’s College now hangs in the Ashmolean Museum, he has produced some delightful works featuring local scenes such as Coombe Gibbet, Donnington Castle, Peasemore and West Woodhay.

But many of his works might not be instantly recognisable to most of us. This is because in Christopher’s case he has also earned a reputation for securing commissions of fine country houses and the surrounding scenery, taking him all over the UK and Europe.

“The most unlikely people end up commissioning you,” he says. “Often people moving house will ask me to paint their new home.”

He has even been commissioned by Reading Museum to paint slums that were being pulled down as a way of recording the past. In a similar way the National Library of Wales commissioned him to paint barracks at Aberystwyth.

At Breach Copse Lodge in Hungerford he was watched by curious sheep as he captured the scene of a lovely home surrounded by large trees.

Christopher trained at the Slade School of Art in the early 1950s, and has continued to paint in the style he developed in those years. As a full time painter he has supported his family of three sons, taking time out in 1967 to serve as the Mayor of Newbury.

He has had many one-man gallery shows and his work is represented in the collections of the Arts Council, Barclays Bank, The Museum of London, The National Library of Wales, Shell UK, Allied Lyons and Art Galleries of Reading and Carmarthen.

See more of Christopher’s work at

Bringing great art to Reading

Reading Foundation for Art Trustees are celebrating their 40th year in 2014 with three new acquisitions for their collection.

The Breakaway by local metal sculptor Diccon Dadey was made in response to the amazing success and interest in cycling in 2012 as Team GB powered through the Olympic Games in London.

Trinity I is a huge and remarkable print by painter and Royal Academician Albert Irvin and master printmaker Bob Saich. It relates to a visit that the artist made to Dublin and combines screen printing and wood block printing to dazzling effect.

Finally, abstract artist Tom Cross led the Art Department at Reading University during the early 1970s. He died recently and his family have given the Foundation a significant painting from his own collection. Table, made in 1970 when Tom Cross was teaching in Reading.

‘The Breakaway’ and ‘Table’ are on display in Reading Museum and more works from the Foundation’s collection can be seen throughout the galleries there.

The Foundation has two aims, to create a collection of significant works of art cared for by Reading Museum Service, and to help the museum acquire works. To date a collection of 140 works has been built and the Foundation has contributed to the acquisition of over 100 works.

To find out more see:

Smile please… and less of the crying!

Just look on Facebook or Twitter and you will see the dubious results many of us achieve when trying to photograph our children, particularly the littlest ones who have neither the patience nor interest in posing for our masterpieces.

The Bucklebury garden photo taken of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with newborn George by her father was charming, but always likely to come under the scrutiny of experts.

So how do the professionals cope with troublesome tots?

Award-winning photographer Karen Gray of ‘Karen Gray Photography’ knows a thing or two about photographing babies. She has managed to achieve the almost-impossible and capture two sets of twins perfectly in one shot within her studio at Ruscombe, Twyford, which she opened in 2012.

Of the double twins image, which has been ‘Highly Commended’ by the Society of Wedding & Portrait Photography, Karen says: “I set myself a personal challenge to capture a brilliant image of multiple babies as I wanted to go beyond what most other photographers do, and demonstrate my skills in children photography; in lighting, composition as well as creativity.

Getting all four of the children to cooperate was certainly a challenge, but they loved the different props that I used throughout the shoot and were great fun to work with. I was delighted with the results!”

Karen Gray’s Top Tips for Newborns

1 Plan your shoot. Know what you are going to do in the session. Have hats, blankets and props all prepared.

2 Always make sure baby is safe and will not fall from any height. When using props always make sure they are safe with secure wheels and no sharp edges. Remember a lot of newborn images you see are composed from different images using an editing programme such as Photoshop. This procedure is called a composite. Always use a ‘spotter’, which is someone close to hand to help you ensure the baby is safe while you set up your equipment.

3 Newborns under the age of 14 days are the easiest (but not always!) to photograph, so capture them early. At this age when they are often in a really deep sleep and they will let you move their little arms and legs into different positions when asleep. After two weeks old, they like to tell you where they want their arms and legs!

4 Keep your working area nice and warm. Warm babies sleep! Play an app on your mobile phone for white noise. I use the ‘Sleepy Sounds’ app and particularly the ‘nature sounds.

5 Ask mummies to bring an extra feed or be around to breastfeed. A full baby is a sleepy baby! You have to be very patient as babies can pick up on stress. My newborn sessions last four hours as getting the baby to sleep can be time-consuming.

Royal expert ready for the show

His competition days at Windsor Royal Horse Show may be over but when it comes to carriage driving, it’s impossible to keep Prince Philip away from one of his favourite pursuits. Photographer Maureen McLean spotted the Duke of Edinburgh enjoying a morning outing in the Long Walk.

He’ll be casting an expert eye over competitors at this year’s Show, see pages 3X-3X, just a month before his 93rd birthday in June.

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