Sir Lau­rie Mag­nus’s favourite paint­ing

The chair­man of His­toric Eng­land chooses a work of a fa­mil­iar spot by a friend who was ‘al­ways won­der­ful com­pany’

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Sir Lau­rie Mag­nus

Martin O. H. Mann adopted his school­boy nick­name of Sargy. He spent his wartime child­hood at his grand­fa­ther’s in Devon with his mother, whom he adored. af­ter pro­gres­sive Dart­ing­ton Hall, he was ap­pren­ticed by Mor­ris Mo­tors, play­ing drums in an Ox­ford jazz trio with Dud­ley Moore.

He aban­doned thoughts of a maths de­gree to en­ter Cam­ber­well Col­lege of art, where he was taught by Frank auer­bach and Euan Uglow. He sub­se­quently taught paint­ing at Cam­ber­well for many years. in 1967, he started liv­ing as a guest of El­iz­a­beth Jane Howard and Kings­ley amis. in their ab­sences, he looked af­ter the amis boys, poker ses­sions one of their shared amuse­ments. the ar­range­ment ended when he mar­ried the painter Frances Carey.

He be­gan to lose his sight—‘it was a bug­ger, but i kept work­ing… and my brain kept find­ing new ways to see the world’—and was reg­is­tered blind in 1988.

in 1990, the now six-strong fam­ily moved to Bun­gay in Suf­folk. the gar­den was on the river Waveney, the bound­ary with nor­folk; it had al­ways been his dream to live on a river. He started this paint­ing ‘stand­ing on the river’s edge, look­ing past the large wil­low to the river on its right and the end of my stu­dio and a shed which had be­come [his el­dest son] Peter’s camp, on its left. it was a won­der­ful sub­ject and i strug­gled with it for months’.

Mann re­garded blind­ness as, in some ways, a lib­er­a­tion. as Peter Mann says: ‘What is in­ter­est­ing is that he could only paint the way he did be­cause of blind­ness.

Sir Lau­rie Mag­nus is Chair­man of His­toric Eng­land ‘ The de­light of this paint­ing is that I know the place and was a friend of the artist. It shows views, in­clud­ing Sargy’s stu­dio, from his gar­den be­side the River Waveney in Bun­gay, Suf­folk. It’s a peace­ful spot, lit­tle changed for at least 100 years. Sargy’s sight was al­ready fail­ing, but his abil­ity to present colours and ob­jects in such a glo­ri­ously vivid way is a tri­umphant re­sponse to the worst dis­abil­ity that can af­flict a vis­ual artist. He was al­ways won­der­ful com­pany–witty, a for­mi­da­ble in­tel­lect, in­ter­ested in ev­ery­thing, kind, ded­i­cated to his work and ir­re­press­ibly creative and brave ’

Stu­dio by the River, Sum­mer, 1990, by Sargy Mann (1937–2015), 55in by 80in, Pri­vate Col­lec­tion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.