Explore the fascinating world of the Victorian judges at this award-winning historic house.

Matthew Wood - Artist in Residence

Matthew Wood exhibition





'The location of a building affects its atmosphere and sense of place and The Judge’s Lodging in the centre of Presteigne in the Welsh Marches certainly provides an inspirational location. From the austere contrasting tones of the entrance Hall with flagstones leading to garden and high street, the atmospheric light of the servants’ hall and kitchen or the formal decoration of the dining room, the Judge’s Lodging has provided me with a visual feast of material.

Something that I find particularly exciting is the opportunity to explore a historic property and the Judge’s Lodging is certainly not without its surprises. Light has a huge effect on the interior of this building whether through the smaller apertures of the basement that contains the kitchen, servant’s hall and lamp room or the larger rooms of the upper stories including the court room and dining room. Dividing and connecting these rooms are the corridors, sometimes carpeted, but often in the case of the basement and entrance corridor, hewn from stone, these passageways often presented remarkable vistas accentuating perspective and amplifying light into the interior revealing a distant house or hill far off in the Radnorshire landscape.

Once a week Since October I would make the journey to Presteigne moving all materials into the building from my car. Every painting produced was completed in one sitting, allowing a more direct approach where I would aim to capture an atmosphere and sense of place brought about through the process of direct observation. The more visits I made the more familiar I became with the essence of the building, as the visits transpired I would arrive with stronger feelings of where I would like to paint with most paintings being instinctual, often drawing on a passing glimpse through a corridor or doorway and always responding to light and the way it travels in and around the structure of the building and its contents. The Judge’s Lodging has a remarkable collection of objects most being original to the building. What adds to this is that they are still used. Fires are lit regularly. Oil lamps serviced and maintained in the lamp room illuminate all areas of the building. These objects in there setting illuminated with this diffused and atmospheric light provided many instances of inspiration, from the ceramic pot or Welsh dresser in the basement, wardrobe and bath in the bedrooms or old boxes, rags and lamps in the lamp room they all have their place and their use conveying the austere pragmatic atmosphere of the Judge’s Lodging.

There is something about being in a place and purely observing over a long period of time that allows its essence to come through. The Judge’s Lodging is a ‘Victorian Revelation’ captured in time with an impressive attention to detail – whether viewed as a whole or individually I hope that this body of work manages to convey this.'

Matthew Wood, August 2019

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