Capturing the bravery, extreme heat and scale of the tar barrels in Ottery St Mary
- Credit: Archant
Arts writer Alison Summerfield meets Marc Gething of MAGs Windows Ltd, Ottery St Mary, whose favourite work of art is a painting called ‘The Tar Barrels’ by Phil Creek.
MAG windows is a long-established family business run by Marc and his wife Katie.
With more than 30 years experience they specialise in PVCu and aluminium home improvement products, as well as small builds such as extensions and porches.
They are justifiably proud of their excellent reputation and, as Marc points out, most of their work comes via customer recommendation.
Marc explains why he chose this particular painting: “It depicts a very important traditional day for our town which I have been involved with since childhood and which our children now also take part.”
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It is widely known that only families living in Ottery St Mary may participate in the famous Tar Barrels day which begins for Marc at 5am with the firing of ‘rock cannons’, these ‘bangs’ can be heard at various times and locations throughout the day.
The children’s barrels start at 4pm with Marc and Katie’s children, 13-year-old Millie and 11-year-old Riley, taking part before Marc and other strong chaps take on the burning barrels that have been stuffed with straw and paper and melting tar - sounds scary - it is and Phil has captured some of that danger, energy and intense heat in his painting.
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As Phil clarifies: “The painting was based on my memories and photographs taken on the night, rather than sketches and drawings, due to the lack of light and fast moving nature of the event. The painting represents the bravery, extreme heat and scale of the barrels which are carried through the massive crowd.”
Undoubtedly, the evening is extremely well orchestrated. Nevertheless, adrenaline is coursing through the streets until midnight. Ladies take part too as Marc tells me his eldest daughter Leah ‘rolls’ the ‘ladies’ barrels’, while Phil’s eldest son, Carl has been a barrel ‘roller’ for 30 years and his nine-year-old grandson, Will, has rolled for two years, so with Marc and Katie’s grandson likely to join the tradition before too long it really is a family event for both Marc and Phil.
This Tar Barrel painting (oil on canvas 60 x 50cm) is featured in ‘Art, People and Place’ a coffee table publication produced by the South West Academy of Fine and Applied Art’s an organisation of which Phil was chair until recently. Phil’s paintings can be seen at The Georgian House Gallery, Ottery and readers can visit his studio during Devon Open Studios in September.
For more information on Mags Windows please contact Marc and Katie; 01404 812135 firstname.lastname@example.org
To see work by Phil Creek, click here
To see more from Alison Summerfield, click here.
To read more features from East Devon Resident, click here.