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  • Celebrating-Somersets-Creative-And-Cultural-Practitioners-James-And-Kate-Lynch

Celebrating Somerset’s creative & cultural practitioners... James & Kate Lynch

Celebrating Somerset’s creative & cultural practitioners... James & Kate Lynch
posted 02 Jul 2024

In the latest a series of monthly blogs celebrating Somerset’s creative & cultural practitioners, our Arts Engagement & Outreach Officer Nick White meets…

James & Kate Lynch

In the mid-to-late-90’s I studied A-level Theatre Studies at Yeovil College.  One of my fellow students was Alice Lynch, now a successful textile artist, designer & illustrator based in Somerset.  Her work, sought after by collectors across the globe comes from “dreamlike visions that float around in my head”, prompted by stories, fairytales or poems.  This is no surprise to me really: at College we took part in a production of Shakespeare’s dream play The Tempest, where Alice played the grotesque Caliban alongside our friend Hetty’s ethereal Ariel.

Alice’s parents, James & Kate Lynch, are also both artists. They’re extraordinary painters with a style distinct from one another, both carefully crafted and each with deeply personal inspiration.  They met in Wiltshire as young adults, growing up together across Somerset: from Bath to Frome to North Cadbury before finding their now home of 25 years: a beautiful cottage with huge views across the Somerset Levels. Visting their home always takes you to an unspoiled island where time stands still.  To get there, I always get lost.  The high hedges are overgrown, narrow lanes with no signposts curve impossibly.  A road to nowhere that leads to solitude and roots into a community.

undefinedAbove: Chris Beck the Basketmaker by Kate Lynch

As we speak, I paint my own picture of how their home has informed their work and their lives. Kate is on a journey documenting people & traditions involving hand crafted skills. She uses Somerset charcoal, made from willow grown on the Levels to sketch the weavers, cider-makers, farmers, beekeepers & the animals that live alongside them. Her books are a must have, not only for Somerset’s social history, but for understanding the artistic process she’s fascinated by. She once told me that her work allows the mind to fill in the blanks. “There aren’t distinctive features on the faces of the people in my work, but their character is in there, you know who they are. My pictures are static, but they move.”  James spends hours paragliding, literally free flying using air currents, across the diverse terrains of Somerset, Dorset, and his native Wiltshire. He reads the weather and breathes in the clouds. He uses the ancient medium of egg tempera to paint the sun at all times of day as English light falls across the land. His studio is currently full: 27 paintings destined for a London show this September, different shapes and sizes, each with his own distinctive atmosphere. There are standing stones, white horses, chalk tracks and aerial views - never have I seen such an evocative picture of the A303, hazily looking towards Wincanton.

undefinedAbove: Cherhill White Horse by James Lynch

James & Kate are both highly protective of each other. They respect & challenge each other as artists, they love & support each other as partners. James is a rare breed:  he has earned his living by the brush for his whole working life.  But more unusually, their artistic involvement with the landscape and rural traditions has become very deep rooted in other ways. Following conversations in the pub they formed The Langport Mummers and perform their traditional play at seasonal festivities - there’s not an apple day, wassail or community festival locally where you won’t see them. When I get home, I wonder if they were to paint their self-portraits mumming what would they paint? - James blowing a hunting horn in egg tempera? Kate grinning with white face paint, immortalised in charcoal?

undefinedAbove: Kate Lynch

undefinedAbove: James Lynch

I don’t see Alice much these days, but our production of The Tempest is a formative experience that has lasted long. It’s a story about taking & making time. About using the world around you to make art. About being yourself. I’ve learned from The Lynch’s that time allows you to build a craft, to perfect a technique, and to delve into a community that inspires you.