Heritage Lottery Fund – Oral History Project

Alan Davie was one of the most famous artists in the UK. An international artist who lived and worked in Hertford for more than 60 years from 1953 until his death in 2014. Alan Davie painted bold, expressive and colourful works which were heavily impacted by ideas early on in his career drawn from the surrealists and from reading about Zen Buddhism.

He influenced a generation of artists – including David Hockney, Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst. People have come forward who knew him. With grateful thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund this project enables recollections to be recorded and made available to the public. This is an ongoing project and we want to capture as much information about Alan Davie as possible so if you have any memories of him you would like to share please get in touch. Either speak to a member of staff in the gallery or email info@hertfordartshub.org.

Mervyn Charlton

Mervyn Charlton is an artist who knew Alan Davie for more than 25 years. Mervyn visited Alan’s studio in Hertford on multiple occasions whereupon a strong friendship was created. Alan made many visits to Mervyn’s own studio in Surrey writing a personal introduction to one of Mervyn’s exhibitions in London. Their relationship continued up to Alan’s death in 2014.

In this interview Mervyn discusses when he met Alan, how much he admired him and what a privilege it was to know him and Bili.

Kate Davie

Kate Davie is Alan and Bili Davie’s daughter. In this interview at her beautiful home in Surrey she talks about her early memories of growing up in Hertford recalling holidays and travelling with her parents.

Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson was a very close friend of Alan Davie for more than 60 years, she met him in the 1950’s while he was living in Leeds.

In this interview she recalls visiting his homes and studios in Cornwall and Hertford.

Ronnie Duncan

Ronnie Duncan is a fine art collector. In this interview Ronnie describes how he met Alan in 1956 how he initially felt when seeing his work for the first time and the importance of The Gregory Fellowship In Leeds.

Judy Glasman

Judy Glasman was Dean of Creative Arts at the University of Hertfordshire. She was lucky enough to be invited to dinner with Alan and Bili Davie and in this interview talks about his home and studio and more broadly Alan Davie’s place in British Art history.

Kip Gresham

Kip Gresham is a Master Printmaker, he is based at The Print Studio in Cambridge.

Kip collaborated with Alan Davie to create many works including a box set of prints titled ‘34 Variations on a Theme’.

In this interview Kip recalls what it was like to have Alan in his studio and his own feelings about Alans work.

Mark Hudson

Mark Hudson is an award-winning British writer, journalist and art critic.

He knew Alan Davie for over 30 years and collaborated with Justin Krish to make a film about Alan Davie’s life and work.

In this interview Mark discusses how he was first introduced to Alan Davie and his thoughts on Alan’s artistic process and methods of painting and describes his visits to the studio at Gamels, Hertford.

Norman Vines

Norman Vines once worked for one of Alan Davies neighbours in Hertford. In this interview he recalls chatting with Alan during his lunch breaks.

Madeline Carmichael

Madeline Carmichael is a physiotherapist who treated Alan Davie for back pain. In this interview she shares her memories of him.

Peter Ruffles

Peter Alan Ruffles M.B.E was born in Hertford in 1942. His knowledge of Hertford and its history is extensive.

In this interview Peter recalls working in a newsagent across the road from the brewery and meeting various characters who had worked at the brewery.

Bryan Andrews

Bryan Andrews is himself an artist. He was a Trustee and Chairman of Courtyard Arts in Hertford. Bryan talks about how Alan Davie became a Patron of Courtyard Arts and describes a visit to his home and studio.

Ray and Pauline Treen

Ray and Pauline Treen have been Art collectors since the early 1990’s. They have several of Alan Davie’s paintings in their personal collection alongside some of his contemporaries.

In this interview Ray discusses Alan Davie through the eye of a collector.

Andrew Carnie

Ansrew Carnie is an established artist himself. In this interview Andrew discusses his impressions of Alan Davie work and the influence his work has had on his own practice.

The Old Hertford Brewery is an iconic Hertford building, built in 1890 by the McMullen family – brewers in Hertford for nearly 200 years. There are people who remember working there up to 1990. With grateful thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund this project enables their recollections to be recorded for the future. The building is currently the home of Hertford Arts Hub. This is an ongoing project and we want to capture as much information about Alan Davie as possible so if you have any memories of him you would like to share please get in touch. Either speak to a member of staff in the gallery or email info@hertfordartshub.org.

Tom McMullen

Joint Managing Director McMullens

Tom’s responsibilities incorporate the Property, Tenancy, Production and Distribution Departments. His role allows him to continue the focus on maintaining investment in long term sustainable pubs, and securing new ones, to ensure that the Company can service its customers for centuries to come. His is also focused on ensuring that the Company continues its brewing and beer heritage and that Hertford retains its last remaining brewery.

Fergus McMullen

Production and Sales Director McMullens

Fergus is the main Board Director for Tenanted Pubs and Production (Brewing, Transport, Warehousing and Cellar Services) as well as wholesalers, off trade and free trade. The best part of the job is helping with the brewing of McMullen’s own cask ale, then seeing it being enjoyed in the pubs and bars.

Terry Crane

Retired District and Promotions Manager

Terry began his working life straight from school joining McMullens in 1957 at the age of 15.

He talks us through his career and the changes taking place in the brewing industry during that time.

Terry Hunter

Retired Cellarman, McMullens

Terry began working at McMullens in 1981 he began rolling barrels and thought he wouldn’t last more than a week……

Les Middlewood

Hertford resident Les Middlewood is the author of One For The Road – A History of Hertford Pubs published by Hertford Museum.

Les is Chairman of the local Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale and writes for CAMRA’s bi-monthly magazine Hertfordshire’s Pints of View. As CAMRA’s Brewery Liaison Officer with McMullen’s brewery, he is very familiar with the former Victorian tower brewery buildings, parts of which will house the Alan Davie gallery. In this interview, Les discusses some of McMullen’s rich 200-year brewing history and of how “Mac’s” continues to be an important brewery and pub owner in Hertford and beyond.

Peter Ruffles

Peter Alan Ruffles M.B.E was born in Hertford in 1942. His knowledge of Hertford and its history is extensive.

In this interview Peter recalls working in a newsagent across the road from the brewery and meeting various characters who had worked at the brewery.

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