For many years my second husband Laurie and I had a second home in Southwold. He is an a illustrator and taught in evening classes in Roehampton College. There a Polish student with blue eyes, glossy hair and full young breasts, none of which I possess, seduced him and our marriage broke up. We sold the property as part of the divorce settlement and I have only been back the once.
In the bookshop of the Mall Galleries where the NEAC exhibition took place I came across a book called Southwold; An Earthly Paradise by Geoffrey C Mann. I decided not to acquire it then but over the past few days my thoughts turned more to the quaint and charming east coast town and I ordered it through Amazon.
For those that have never visited Southwold it is on the eastern coast of Suffolk and has a history back to Saxon times.
Nearby Dunwich was one of the biggest cities in Saxon and medieval times till it fell into the sea. Shakespeare once acted there.
The number of artists who painted in and of Southwold is impressive: J.W.M. Turner, Sir Stanley Spencer, Walter Sickert, Edward Seago and Philip Wilson Steer.
Philip Wilson Steer’s picture of Southwold hangs in the Tate.
Turning from brush to pen, Daniel Defoe, Algernon Swinburne, Walter de la Mare, George Orwell and P.D. James all lived there at some point.
Orwell took his pen name from the Suffolk river, his parents, the Blairs were Southwold residents. The artist who invited me to NEAC – Jason Bowyer – painted a fine picture of the beach at Walberswick and his father William many more as the Bowyer family lived there and were able to recreate in oils the vast skies and clear light they know so well.
Southwold is a sumptuous celebration in a series of essays of the town with many pictures I have referred to featured as well as its history. The author Geoffrey Mann is an expert on jewellery and a distinguished antiquarian. His book is compiled and written by someone who knew, understood and loved the place.