John Piper, Bucks Mills Cabin

Bucks Mills Cabin watercolour (c) John Piper

Perched above the sea in the ancient fishing hamlet of Bucks Mills, the Cabin was the studio and summer residence of painters Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards. More recently the Cabin has been used as a space for artist residencies, to keep this artistic heritage alive.

John Piper has been an artist for over 40 years, turning professional in 2015, covering all genres of art including Watercolours, Acrylics, Oils, Pastels, Pencil as well as venturing into stone carving and wood carving. He specialises in fine detailed and loose style watercolour paintings of cottages and buildings of historical interest as well as local North Devon land and seascapes.

What is your artistic inspiration?

My art is inspired by the natural world around me in the beautiful North Devon biosphere reserve with its unspoilt landscapes and dramatic coastline. I am inspired by the history and historical buildings of the area as well as the incredible and forever changing huge skies and breathtaking glimpses of meteorological phenomena. I am inspired by the diverse and wonderful flora and fauna of the North Devon countryside which is reflected in my paintings and stone sculpture.


What will you do during your residency at Bucks Mills Cabin?

I will be producing a body of work capturing the village of Bucks Mills, the local coastline, woodlands and the Artists Cabin using various mediums, watercolour, acrylic, oils and also natural pigments such as Bideford Black and any other earth pigments I can source from the location. I plan to incorporate these natural pigments and use natural watercourses in all my work to give my paintings a sense of place. I intend to be painting both in the cabin and on location around the Bucks Mills area.


How has Bucks Mills Cabin inspired your work? What makes this place special?

As with the Cabins original occupants I am inspired by the dramatic location and endless opportunities for paintings. I feel that by painting at the cabin I am in some way continuing the work and love of the location sadly cut short after Judith Ackland passed away in 1971.  This place is special in so many ways, its stunning location, its history, its peacefulness and its ability to inspire so much creativity for so many years. It’s a little time capsule that’s so evocative it cannot fail to inspire any artist.


Are there any other National Trust places that have inspired you?

At a time of much uncertainty in my working life I made a visit to Overbeck’s in Salcombe where I was inspired by a local artist and it’s where I made a life changing decision to follow my heart and become a full time artist and sculptor.


What advice would you give to someone wanting to paint or illustrate?

My advice to any aspiring artist is to just simply have a go, keep at it and don’t be put off by critics. The more you paint the free’r your art will become and your style will start to show through. Paint what you enjoy and don’t get bogged down with selling and exhibiting. If you’re not painting for yourself then you’re not putting yourself into your painting and above all just enjoy it, the rest will follow.

John Piper is Artist in Residence at Bucks Mills Cabin from Mon 19 - Fri 30 August 2019, with open days on Sat 24 and Sun 25 August, 10am-3pm. He will also host an artist open day on Sat 14 September 2019.