A group of English post-impressionist artists working in the early 20th century, known as the Camden Town Artists, became well known for their paintings of the Blackdown Hills countryside.

Named after the area in North London where the artists lived and worked, the group was influenced by French impressionist and post-impressionist painters. Initially they portrayed contemporary urban life, but some of the Camden Town Artists were drawn to the countryside. Harold Harrison, who was educated at the Slade School of Art, bought the Applehayes estate at Clayhidon in 1909 and began hosting visits by several members of the group.

Of the original members, Robert Bevan, Charles Ginner and Spencer Gore painted most prolifically in the Blackdown Hills. Their delightfully colourful rural scenes capture a pastoral idyll shortly before the first world war changed English society forever. Taking inspiration from artists such as Paul Gaugin and Vincent van Gogh, the works use blocks of bold colour. They are a tribute to the area’s bucolic beauty, much of which is unchanged to this day.

The artwork was celebrated in 2017, with an exhibition at the Museum of Somerset, A Fragile Beauty: Art on the Blackdown Hills 1909 to 1925 and events in and around the Blackdown Hills. 

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