Eager to please and to attract attention the memorable pieces are immediate and bold, they lack the self-consciousness and precision of mainstream artworks and reflect the vision of Andras Kalman, whose enthusiasm and eye built the core of the British Folk Art Collection, which is now on permanent exhibition here at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park.
The collection has no boundaries and as you enter the galleries you feel you are entering a glorious fantasy world, populated with extraordinary objects, including outsized tea pots, a key, a shotgun and cartridge, a padlock, a wooden clog and a golden fleece, all variously hanging above a medley of whirligigs, weather vanes, toys and signs, alongside paintings of stiff people, wonky buildings, two dimensional ships, square sheep, spotted cows, silhouette fish, strutting cockerels and impossibly fat pigs.
It is that sense of fun that somehow defines the folk-art galleries at Compton Verney. These works are inspiring, they make us all feel like “artists” and that we could also create things and paint pictures from memory or imagination. You don’t need to study or read about them, just wander, look and enjoy.
There is no commonly accepted definition of Folk Art, nor is there a standard of quality by which the makers are judged and the pieces you see here have not survived because they were valuable or precious, but because somebody treasured them for what they are. So, simply wander around and see what attracts or touches you… and then maybe spend just a minute or two wondering why?
Author on Folk Art & Former Director of Judkyn Memorial at Freshford Manor, near Bath
Dealer & Collector
Kate Arnold Foster
Director, Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading
Artist and Curator
Andras Kalman's daughter
Curator of The Museum of English Naive Art 1988-1998
Writer, artist and publisher of decorative papers
Curator of of What the Folk Say at Compton Verney in 2011
Folk Art Specialist