Artist in Residence blog – Melanie Wright, March 2019

My first visit for the second year of the artist residency, and after the excitement of the Cheltenham Festival, and the return of longer daylight hours, it was great to be back and refocusing on Newmarket.  On arrival I was delighted to learn that since my last visit, The BRS have been awarded the ‘Outstanding’ grade by Ofsted, after their inspection in January. So well done them, and great to see everyone at the school upbeat and positive for the year ahead. 

Good also to see that the new premises for The  Injured Jockey Fund, being built next to the School, which will be a centre for the rehabilitation of injured jockeys, is coming on, looking good and due to be completed in the autumn of this year.

During this visit I spent some time observing the students riding out on the gallops and in the BRS yard,  looking for a suitable pose with which to complete the multiple studies composition designed for The BRS,  which  i had begun late last year. And caught  a perfect moment showing  instructor, Ray O ‘Brien talking with one of the students, on their way back down the gallops. The small watercolour I have painted should work well within the multiple vignette print. Here are a couple of the watercolour vignettes, including a portrait of Kingsgate Native,  plus a studio layout mock-up of the composition where each painting will ultimately be scanned , rescaled and positioned within a single print by my printer, KMS Litho.

I also spent an interesting morning observing racehorses riding out on the Cambridge Rd all weather gallops. No rail!. Presenting a perfect opportunity to watch them ridden at speed with that fabulous backdrop of  The Rowley Mile Grandstand, and the racecourse itself stretching to infinity behind the track. The light was muted, but i found this made for some interesting contrasts of strikingly luminous work sheets on the horses, against the subtle grey brown tones of the riders and horses. Atmospheric,  and with the feel of the early morning chill. Also fantastic to see trains of horses  ridden out in the far distance, using the summer grass gallops. Many thanks to Amy Stennett of The Jockey Club , who took me up there the day before, to advise the best places  from which to view. 

Later, I made a return visit to Palace House, together with my tutor from Christies Education days, Janet Martin. As always i came away from this Museum feeling freshly inspired and full of ideas. There is nothing like studying the expressive magic of Munnings and perfection of Stubbs, and soaking up the history on display there. Each time i visit i  something new catches my eye….and this time it was a painting by Frederic Whiting, ‘The Morning Ride’, a delightful and quintessentially 1930’s piece.  a beautifully composed scene, full of light. . I am looking forward to taking the students who are coming to my Equestrian painting workshop in August, at The BRS , to the Museum, to sketch from the paintings in this collection. Details of this workshop can be seen on the tuition section of my website: 

While in Newmarket,  I delivered a Racing pastel painting to The Animal Health Trust. This will be featured in their Saddle Up Art Trail  which takes place in the summer and then auctioned to raise funds for the AHT charity.

And finally a visit to see James Fanshawe and Janet at Pegasus Stables, to discuss ideas for sketching days there for April and June. This is such a beautiful old stable yard and will feature in future blogs. Very much looking forward to getting down to work there next month. 

Written by Melanie Wright.

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