Modern art

PUBLISHED: 17:22 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:01 20 February 2013

Great Bardfield

Great Bardfield

Sara Wrightman finds out how history is repeating itself in Great Bardfield through the transformation of a 12th century tithe barn into a music venue

THE picturesque village of Great Bardfield has always attracted a colony of artists. In the 1950s print-makers, lino cutters, illustrators and painters teaching at London's Royal College of Art set up studios in the local cottages, where they lived and raised families. Following the Festival of Britain in 1951, these artists decided to open their homes to thousands of visitors to exhibit and sell their work for two weeks every year under the banner of The Great Bardfield Artists.
But now Great Bardfield is set to
once again be a village characterised
by its creative community, drawing
in crowds from London, the UK and even across Europe.
High Barn, a 12th century tithe barn, once part of the farming community within the Manor of Bardfield, is one of the UK's top acoustic music venues.
In October, Midge Ure performed a live gig and last month Lucie Silvas played to a sell-out audience. The High Barn artistic community, which is already home to a children's book publisher and design company, now sees the launch of its own record label, High Barn Records, and the arrival of Grammy-winning Simon Gogerly.
Simon's sound engineering top ten list includes U2, Massive Attack, Shaznay Lewis, Gwen Stefani, Missy Elliot and Jamiroquai. In 2006, Simon swept the floor at The Grammy Awards with his work on U2's album How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.
'We are hoping, if the past history of Great Bardfield is anything to go by, this will be the start of more creative people coming to High Barn,' enthuses Chris Bullen, who remembers the rain pouring through the barn roof when he first moved in.
Chris, a fully-trained sound engineer, moved to High Barn eight years ago in search of a recording studio and office space. But, as restoration work began on the tithe barn Chris decided that it would make an excellent music venue. 'I had been trained working with live orchestras, and I came to realise that High Barn had this amazing acoustic quality. I had to use it as a venue,' says Chris.
Using the farm tools as a reminder of its history - audiences are now served drinks at a bar inlaid with farming tools - and original scales, riddlers and choppers used to weigh vegetables and corn produced in this Essex countryside, hang over the main entrance and adorn the venue's own green room.

New talent
A monthly Unplugged Night gives new music the opportunity to play acoustic sets in the hope of being spotted. Essex has a high standard of musical talent coming through via these Friday night sessions, including Darwyn (Halstead), Aloneme (Chelmsford) and Songs from the Blue House (Colchester).
This modern artistic movement may remind villagers of when artist Edward Bawden lived and worked in Great Bardfield, passing on his tips to the local community through his self-inspired art classes.
'The history of the village is one of non-conformity,' explains Jenny Rooney, project coordinator for Great Bardfield Cottage Museum. 'The Great Bardfield Artists meant that thousands of people visited the village every summer.'
Housed within the village's 16th century almshouses, the museum is furnished with artefacts that local villagers have simply found within their homes or gardens, and illustrated with panels re-telling the histories of The Great Bardfield Artists.
With live gigs and the launch of a record label, get ready for the 21st century version of The Great Bardfield Artists.

0 comments

More from Out & About

Tue, 16:32

We’ve put together 15 questions that will push your knowledge of Essex to the limit - let us know how you’ve done on social media!

Read more
Tue, 14:17

From James Bond to Batman, Essex has been known to bask in a little Hollywood glitz. Here are 19 that have used our county’s incredible locations on the big screen

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

Spend Halloween hunting down ghouls and ghosts in the county’s most haunted places and spaces. We pick 10 absolutely terrifying locations to visit this October.

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Chelmsford is on the rise, blossoming from its city status. One iconic landmark which has been part of the landscape for 300 years, and is also enjoying a renaissance, is Hylands House. Petra Hornsby reveals more

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Laurie Page of the Public Rights of Way Team at Essex County Council shares with us this beautiful six-mile walk around Bradwell’s stunning coastal delights

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

With one of the warmest and driest summers on record, this year has been a difficult one for gardeners. Susie Bulman from The Beth Chatto Gardens at Elmstead Market shares some top tips for plant survival, even in these conditions

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Our county’s remaining windmills stand the test of time as a tribute to a bygone era. Mica Bale highlights some of the best examples in Essex

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Whether you’re looking for a memorable day trip or an impromptu weekend getaway, Essex is a perfect patchwork of all the little things we love about Britain. Proudly showcasing the charm of the county, we pick 13 towns you must visit when planning a trip to Essex

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

This walk from the town of Bures on the Essex and Suffolk border leads you through the Essex countryside to the little villages of Alphamstone and Lamarsh | Words and photos: Laurie Page Public Rights of Way Team at Essex County Council

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A popular Southend escape game venue has launched a new room inspired by the town’s seafaring past

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search