The Summer Menu, Ockenden Manor
Updated: Jan 22, 2020
With many original parts of the building dating back to the 17th Century, Ockenden Manor can be found tucked away behind the High Street in my home village of Cuckfield.
Ockenden Manor makes the very best use of the landscape, set in the beautiful Sussex countryside with wonderful views of the South Downs. This gracious Elizabethan building is, and has been for many years, a small country house hotel offering a relaxing getaway and some fine dining to its guests. It is a place of elegant gardens and spatial vistas.
This painting was inspired by a walk around the village on an exceptionally warm evening in June. I don't normally paint contre-jour scenes, preferring a more directional light that helps to reveal detail and texture, especially in landscapes. However the strong backlighting works well here and in fact makes the scene. The deep shadows and contrasts emphasise the warmth of the evening sun, and the white halos around the rose bushes are an interesting analogue for our guests' unimpeachable integrity! In the shade of the parasols, and no doubt with a cool aperitif close to hand, our diners peruse the Summer Menu; the turbot with a Sauce Vierge sounds excellent, but it is also hard to ignore the seared rump of South Downs lamb with caponata........a tricky decision!