Category Archives: Cards

Artist in residence at Levens Hall…

I’ve just arrived home from Cumbria, having set up an exhibition of nearly 40 framed pieces across three rooms at the beautiful Levens Hall, near Kendal.
Here are some of the prints… the complete set can be seen on my website.

The exhibition consists of limited edition linocuts and silk screen prints, original watercolours and a range of open edition Signed Giclée prints, printed by myself with archival inks on lovely acid-free watercolour paper. Quite an assignment. I didn’t quite realise what I was taking on when Naomi Bagot  asked me to be artist in residence at Levens Hall for the 2015 season! Richard and Naomi have just taken over the running of Richard’s family home, so it was important to me to make it special and ensure their first event was a success.

The opening night was a great event! People packed the exhibition rooms and were friendly and enthusiastic about the work. Several original watercolours and signed prints were sold and four house portraits were commissioned too!



















Rowan captures in sketches…Topiary and the challenges of trimming

The Topiary Gardens at Levens Hall

No artistic study of Levens Hall would be complete without an in-depth exploration of the incredible Topiary Gardens! Comprising over 100 different designs, the hedges, mostly different species of Box and Yew, are trained and clipped into a breath-taking array of living sculptures. Some abstract, some geometric, and some are recognisable shapes such as chess pieces and umbrellas.

A veritable army of gardeners some volunteers are recruited at Levens Hall for the season.

An army of gardeners… some volunteers… are recruited at Levens Hall for the season.

This is the oldest and largest topiary in the world and I enjoyed the chance to study some of the incredible forms and the way they interact with the old building. I couldn’t resist speculating on some of the ways the gardeners might keep the hedges looking neat and tidy… I wondered how do they really do it?!

Levens Hall – Preliminary sketches and thoughts:

Over the last few months I have been immersed in all things Levens Hall in preparation for an exciting new exhibition of my work opening at the end of this month at the Hall.

Levens Hall is a manor house, open to the public, situated in the Kent Valley in Cumbria. A major building has existed on the site from as early as 1350. The building as it stands today, is mostly Elizabethan.

I’ve been examining every inch of this wonderful old pile, not only the building itself but also the incredible famous topiary garden, the animals, wild and domestic, and even the Bagot family in residence… diverse and fascinating reference material, indeed!

In the lead up to the exhibition I’ll be uploading sketches and preparatory works showing background work, so do come back soon to see more!

First up, I thought I’d show you some of my preparatory sketches of the building itself.

I loved drawing the architectural details and eccentric character of the construction. The old bendy leaded light window panes and the Irregularity of the whole thing.

Of particular interest are the plants that grow on the building itself  they are fantastic and include varieties of clematis Virginia creepers and superb wisterias which make the whole place impossibly beautiful and colourful.

I found the weird and wonderful chimneys fascinating. There are so many of them, they are huge and look  like some thing from a fairy tale.

Here are a few sketches:


Off to Cumbria…my first visit to Levens Hall….

I’ve just been up the motorway to Cumbria to meet the new owners of Levens Hall,
the beautiful ancient Elizabethan mansion with world famous Topiary gardens.

Naomi and Richard Bagot have appointed me with the task of Artist in Residence next year so I was there to check it out and do some planning.

This really is a superb assignment. The house, gardens and park are so special and they also have herds of the rare breed Bagot goats and black deer, and rare Wyandotte hens… I’m sure they’ll all make an appearance in my work!

I’ll be creating original watercolour paintings, limited edition lino cuts and silk screen prints and a series of digital prints. Cards too for the shop.

A lot of work and a brilliant opportunity. Better sharpen up my

Here’s some of the first pencil sketches more soon…

Greetings…..ever been looking for something?

Only to come across it in an unexpected place?

Such moments can be the inspiration for great works of art…..

Tuba player surprise greetings card by Rowan Barnes-Murphy published by Peartree-Heybridge

Tuba player surprise greetings card by Rowan Barnes-Murphy published by Peartree-Heybridge

(Do not try this at home)

Here’s another one which I drew a little later.

Congratulations greetings card

Flowers and good wishes a congratulation card by Rowan Barnes-Murphy Published by Peartree-Heybridge

The complete series was published by Peartree-Heybridge .