An Exhibition celebrating the life work of celebrated local artist and historian Michael Barnard, will open at Croome National Trust on Saturday, July 9th. The marquee exhibition is initially for one day only, as part of the RAF Defford Heritage Day 2016. The annual show is open from 10am to 5pm. Entry together with car parking and access to the RAF Defford Museum are free. Besides the Michel Barnard Exhibition, features of day will include Spitfire and Hurricane fly-overs, and a range of aviation-theme stalls and attractions.
Born in 1928, Michael Barnard is a well-known celebrity in Evesham and the Vale, thanks to his paintings with accompanying stories featuring regularly in the Evesham Journal and other leading local print media.
Michael Barnard in his studio in the Vale of Evesham. Photo: Peter Young
His ability as an artist emerged during the Second World War when he was a pupil at Prince Henry’s Grammar School – and also a Cadet NCO in the Evesham Squadron of the Air Training Corps. Through his membership of the ATC he readily and regularly had access to local airfields. His paintings and his recorded memories confirm a life-long fascination with RAF Defford and the airfields at Pershore, Honeybourne, Perdiswell and elsewhere. As an ATC cadet he seized every opportunity – of which there were many – to fly in RAF aircraft. The outcome was the indelible memories which illuminate and inspire his art and his historical record to this day.
As his style as a young artist developed, his fascination with the cinema became apparent and some his most memorable work comes from this period – notable his highly imaginative portrait of a ‘WAAF’ (inspired by the film “The Way to the Stars”) which now provides a striking introduction to the ‘Women of RAF Defford’ on-going exhibition in the RAF Defford Museum at Croome.
While he was largely self-taught as an artist, he pays tribute to his art teacher at Prince Henry’s, Miss Knight, and to the encouragement and advice of the famous cartoonist ‘Giles’ (Ronald ‘Carl’ Giles) of The Daily Express, and to a local headmaster, his uncle William McKanan-Jones.
Michael Barnard’s portrait of a WAAF appears at the ‘Women of RAF Defford’ Exhibition. Photo: Peter Young
The exhibition at Croome will show how his art evolved, providing a rich tapestry of life in The Vale through over the last 70 years, especially the local airfields and their impact on the community and the landscape.
He recorded his life and times in a richly illustrated ‘scrapbook of memories’ entitled “Secret of the Skies” (Perfect Image, Evesham 2002) which paid tribute to the Air Training Corps, then and now.
For more information on RAF Defford Heritage Day 2016, see https://deffordairfieldheritagegroup.wordpress.com/raf-defford-heritage-day-2016/ or phone National Trust Croome on 01905 370005 or 01905 370901