Tar Barrel Night paintings will help keep the event rolling
- Credit: Colin Pethick
A professional portrait painter has captured the drama of Ottery’s great Tar Barrel Night tradition and is pledging to give back a percentage of his sales to the community to help keep the flaming spectacle alive.
Award-winning West Country artist Colin Pethick, 59, specialises in fine art portrait painting and has been captivating the people of Ottery with his work.
By using his masterful strokes of oil on canvas, Colin has produced scenes capturing the atmosphere and drama of Tar Barrel Night and the fearless barrel rollers who every year carry the burning barrels through the town on the night of November 5.
Speaking to the Herald, Colin from Gunnislake in Cornwall, explained how he came to learn of Ottery's legendary event.
He said: “My best friend is from the Honiton area and having spent time with her before lockdown I discovered this Tar Barrel event. I thought it was amazing and I really wanted to come and see it for real with sketch books and canvases. But of course this year, because of the pandemic, it was cancelled and I was so gutted.
“I love history and I’m an historian as well as a painter and I’ve found here that it’s similar to Cornwall where we are losing a lot of our heritage and our traditions. One thing that impressed me the most about the Ottery tar barrels is that it’s been going on for so long and in the face of overwhelming health and safety issues they still manage to keep it going, which is amazing and I feel as an artist that it’s important to document it.”
Talking about his painting style, Colin said: “I’m a bit of a classicist as an artist and I love anything about Baroque or Mannerism, Rembrandt and Caravaggio. That sort of chiaroscuro light, I love. For me, I thought this was heaven, this is exactly the sort of subject I’ve always wanted to paint.”
Colin aims to complete a series of 12 to 18 oil paintings which will be exhibited at a venue in Ottery when the government restrictions and pandemic regulations permit.
He is looking to donate 10 per cent from the sales of his work to the organisers of the event. “When I started to research it I looked into the huge amounts of money it costs to insure the event. The committee is always trying to raise funds to keep it going and I thought that this was the least I could do,” Colin said.
Eva White from Ottery Carnival Committee said: “We are always grateful for any support given to us. Some of his pictures have already been displayed in The Volunteer Inn as well as the Curious Otter bookshop and seem to be well received in the town. It would be lovely to see an exhibition of Colin’s work locally.”
Commenting on other fundraising endeavours, Eva continued: “Dawn Russell has recently produced Tar Barrel suncatchers which were put up for sale on Facebook and she kindly donated a percentage of the sales to our funds.
“Several committee members have also run raffles and auctioned items online. The draw for the barrel garden bench is still ongoing and will run until October.
“We are currently collecting items to auction later in the year. We have also received a number of donations through our Facebook page.
“Preparations are continually ongoing for our events and work is going on behind the scenes, hoping that things can return to near normal in the coming year.”
You can help keep the barrels rolling by going to: https://www.tarbarrels.co.uk/donate/
To see more of Colin’s fine art paintings visit: