The art worlds best kept secret

PA Jacqui Petrie reports back from a training weekend at Preston Mondford for the Field Studies Council who run Art and Environment courses at

Tracking down the site of the most famous English landscape painting “The Haywain” by Constable I eventually found Flatford. There are not many signs to this tiny hamlet, I’m told in an effort to keep it special and a world unchanged since Constables time.

I discovered the sites of many of Constables paintings; Willy Lott’s Cottage, the Mill itself that belonged to Constables family, Valley Farm and the banks of the River Stour are all still there.

Owned and tended by the National Trust there is an informative exhibition of his work in Bridge Cottage next to the excellent tea room. According to Lonely Planet it is the best location in the world to visit the locations of paintings.

It has to be the art world’s best kept secret that you are able to do residential art courses, working and actually staying in these iconic buildings at Flatford. It was only as result of seeing students with easels emerging from the Mill that I began to realise what went on.

The buildings are leased by the Field Studies Council who run a program of Arts and Environmental courses but mysteriously do not advertise their unique heritage. Several years later I took some of my own students for an art day “Walking in Constables Footsteps” and while drawing outside the centre met the FSC director who a while later invited me to teach a course there.

The first time at Flatford as an associate tutor I actually stayed in Willy Lott’s Cottage, my bedroom window featured in “The Haywain” and overlooked the Mill and the most archetypical English scene. It is hard to understand that with this abundant richness why it is that many courses do not run due to the lack of bookings with the minimum number set at six participants.

Look at the online brochure on the Field Studies Council website to see more information.

Find out more about Jacquie at www.jacquipetrie.co.uk and www.waveneysprings.co.uk.

Leave a Reply