When you receive a Christmas card from one of your followers with a print of your favourite theme beautifully painted in pastel colours on the front of the card, you know you’ve done a good job as a group whose goal is to promote Ottery and its hidden gems.

The card in question was sent to us by June Harvey a well-known local artist who settled in Ottery 20 years ago after all her travels took her to Singapore, where she studied Chinese Paintings and Oils under Mr. Ng Eng Teng whose sculpture was featured in the Seoul Olympics; she also went to New Zealand, Australia, East Africa and finally to London where she worked as a Colour Consultant for Berger Paints. When she was in London, June was an assistant at Art Galleries on Bond Street, St Christopher’s Place and Motcombe Street.

The pursuit of a quieter life did not seem to fit in June’s plans, and in the early 1990s she graduated full-time in History from the University of Exeter, earning a BA 2/1 Honours in 1995 while studying subjects such as English Cathedrals (Exeter, Wells and Salisbury); British Naval History; the Witch Hunt in Easly Modern Europe; Russian history and Desk Top Publishing.

For a few years June concentrated on painting with pastels, exhibiting annually in Devon with the Open Studios and exhibiting in various galleries in London, Birmingham and Devon. However, in addition to working as an artist, June spent time researching the diaries of the Sherwill brothers, the manuscript of which was offered to her for transcription and finally published in 2020.

It is of our understanding that June has put many times her artistic skills, her history degree, and investigative expertise at the service of our community. Ottery Primary School once displayed a mural that June painted on the walls of the school. In 2018 when the then Chairman of the OSMTC Regeneration Working Group formed a Heritage and Conservation Area sub- group to work simultaneously with the Town Centre Traffic Management sub-group June, together with Grenville Gilbert, contributed to the success of the documents produced. This was to cause June to meet the late Robert Neal who gave her a friendly tour of the Museum as it was in 2018. Because of that connection June put her name forward when they were looking for new Trustees and is currently a museum volunteer helping with the cataloguing and archiving of all the valuable documents that have been sitting in boxes for so many years.

June’s card showed one of the unusual and fascinating features inside St Mary’s Church, a 15th century pre-Copernicus astronomical clock restored to working order in 1907. The clock is one of the oldest surviving mechanical clocks in the country and adheres to the Ptolemaic cosmology with the Earth at the centre of the solar system.

We asked June what had inspired her to choose the clock. “I suppose it has always amazed me that we have a five or six hundred year old clock in our church, and that it is still working, and that its colours are so beautiful. Just “wonder” I guess! My pastels are a process which makes me really look at what I am seeing when I am reproducing the image – whether it is a landscape, a vase of flowers or a clock. So often we don’t really see the combination of colours that our eyes are picking up. When you copy them onto paper you never forget them. I had never before really looked at that clock till now, even though it did fill me with wonder”.

Ottery is the town where many talented residents have come to settle and as June has, they kindly collaborate with us. Half a year has passed and more than 59 columns have been written since the Sidmouth Herald gave us the opportunity to promote Ottery through their pages. We hope you enjoyed them as much as we did writing them. Have a Happy Christmas everyone and thanks again for your support!