WellowSergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Village
In 2008, Peter Blake painted a picture called “I may not be a Ruralist anymore, but this morning I saw a fairy in my garden in Chiswick”.
It throws up questions like “What’s a Ruralist” and “when was he one?”
The answer lies in Wellow and its valleys.
In 1975 Blake abandoned London for Wellow with a gaggle of other artists. Like the Pre-Raphaelites before them they sought to celebrate the English landscape using traditional materials and skills, always with half an eye for the whimsical mysticism that our loveliest landscapes inspire.
Laurie Lee, another artist of Arcadian bent, gave Peter Blake’s group their name: the Brotherhood of Ruralists.
Blake lived in Wellow until 1979, when he returned to London, but the Brotherhood of Ruralists exhibited together until 2007.
Visit Wellow and you’ll understand why the group was drawn there. Yes, it’s picture perfect, the houses are honeyed and the pub has an honest cheer. But whatever Wellow’s comforts and charms, this is the West Country, and Blake, like all of us, came in here in the hope of freedom.