Borin Van Loon: Montpellier Walk
Montpellier Walk, Cheltenham (oil on board) 81 x 610cm

Painted for the Freelance exhibition 'This is what I saw', this large, two-part work was inspired by the discovery of not just one or a handful, but an entire street of (almost) identical caryatids in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. The haunting face and blank eyes seemed to cry out for penetrating vision.

Montpellier Walk properties are separated by these full length caryatids. The figures are based on the classical models on the Erechtheion in Athens. There are 32 of them and they are not all the same. Only two of them are dated from 1840, made by the original London sculptor Rossi from terracota. The remainder were created by a local man from Tivoli Street, Cheltenham. Two of them, located on the extension of the bank, were added in the 1970s. Montpellier Walk was designed by W. H. Knight, the architect of the monumental Cheltenham Public Library.

In the 18th and 19th centuries the name of French spa town of Montpellier had been a byword for a pleasant healthy place – and that name was chosen in 1809 by Henry Thompson for his newly established spa. It was laid out in the early 18th century with attractive villas and terraces surrounding spacious ornamental gardens, now known as Montpellier Gardens. In the 1830s and 1840s specialist shops were built and Montpellier developed as a classy shopping area, the character of which it still retains today.

Borin Van Loon: Montpellier Walk 2
Montpellier Walk, Cheltenham 2 (oil on board)
38.6 x 28.4cm

On show as part of This is what I saw at The Frame Workshop Gallery, 22 St Nicholas Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 1TP: 29.1.2014 to 1.3.2014

Borin Van Loon: Montpellier Walk gallery 1   Borin Van Loon: Montpellier Walk gallery 2

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