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European memories

Artist statement at Godalming Museum September 2013

Stephen Hornsy-Smith

I painted my first oil painting at 16, yet this exhibition is based on inspiration before that. This particular exhibition is about childhood memories travelling through Europe in a VW with my parents and brothers and sister. Each summer we would jump into the rust-bucket pitch-up a 2nd hand tent and see some of the world. It is about childhood awe and excitement, the senses bewildered by beautiful colours, aromas, landscapes, languages and cuisine. It is also in sharp contrast to the claustrophobia and lurking hardship of 1970s Britain, and an escape from a dislike of school. Memories of stopping at the roadside to buy trays of peaches and grapes, or Routiers and 6 course meals, trying a little wine, not being impressed with oysters, going horse riding for the first time, and meeting a lovely girl called Anne Galloway from South Shields. It is a recollection of time when my parents were most relaxed, re-lived every Xmas with a viewing of my fathers vertiginous panning from his cine-camera films, made to embarrass their grandchildren. Just as the camera rolled unerringly through childhood to adolescence, now 40 years on, it seems as though I've come to have my own visual diary - my Paintings, naively painted, partially abstract, and not trying too hard to be 'cerebral'. These paintings however, are dedicated to my parents who were smart enough to choose to be professional teachers with long summer holidays that they used to devote to their children.

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