I was commissioned by one of the people involved in the Goodwood Revival festival to paint a scene which gives a flavour of the festival.
What is the Goodwood Revival festival?
“From 1948 to 1966 the Goodwood circuit was the spiritual home of British motor racing, staging classic races such as the Tourist Trophy for sports cars and the Glover Trophy for Grand Prix cars. All the top drivers of the day came to Goodwood on Easter Monday, from Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss in the 1950s to Jim Clark and Graham Hill through the 1960s. The circuit was established by Freddie March (later 9th Duke of Richmond), himself a Brooklands winner, and was revived by his grandson Charles, Earl of March, in 1998. The Revival event is a magical step back in time to the romance and glamour of motor racing as it used to be in Goodwood’s heyday.”
The day of the Festival
The client mentioned that it was a pretty big sight and there will be lots to see. Also, many of the visitors dress up in period clothes so we need to note them too.
I was rather excited by the prospect; I love a spot of nostalgia. I had expected a raceway with a few lovely classic cars quietly rolling round the circuit. Fast enough to give a bit of a show though not so fast for a driver to break into a sweat, and certainly not fast enough to blow a gasket in any elderly vehicles. After all, many of them are pretty valuable. I felt I had it in my head. I could not have been more wrong.
On arrival, I have to say I was totally astonished by the whole spectacle of it all. The site was absolutely vast with many, many thousands of people.
Including a racing circuit, there were also sections divided up into separate eras. There was pretty big Tesco that you could shop from, although it was done out as if it were a Tesco from the early 1960s complete with original packaging.
Outside, there was a Mods and Rockers area with scooters and ancient motorbikes with names like BAS, Matchless and Aerial. Quite incredible, and eerily immersive.
From the 1960s, you were all of a sudden thrown back to the 1940s, as the site also included a whole airfield which majestically sported 14 original WW2 Spitfires and a bomber too complete with owners dressed in RAF clothing with accompanying WW2 soldiers and vehicles in support.
Racing at the Festival
Prior to my drawing, I thought I would pop over and see the old boys doing a spot of racing. What I thought would be a bit of beauty parade turned out to be a bit of a butcher’s yard of a brutal race, not quarter was given, from the off, these drivers were seriously wanting to win their races and by today’s standards the cars are not in the least bit safe either, especially the cars from the 1930s. They look like death traps.
As mentioned before, these cars were not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, I saw two Ferrari 250 GTO’s which would cost £20 million (approx. US$31.7 million) if you wanted to replace them. I could not imagine any car ever costing that much.
Drawing at the Festival
I had all day to do my drawings, and I have to say, at this stage, I was very daunted by it all. How do you capture a whole alternate reality filled with alternate reality people who have brought along their vintage cars, motorbikes and aeroplanes?
In the end, I decided to draw a series of scenes which might work, and then a loose idea of compositions. I spent the rest of my time drawing the cornucopia of fantastically dressed visitors. These would certainly hold the whole painting together. I was totally spoilt for choice.
As I worked, I felt that a scene of the paddocks at the back of the circuit might just do the trick, I also had the advantage of featuring a number of different cars from different eras. Also at one end there was a rest area for visitors as well so I could have some real fun here.
At the end of the day, I linked up with the client again and we dusted over a few ideas and pinned one panoramic as the most likely candidate for the final piece.
Painting the Goodwood Revival festival
Once I got back to the studio with my drawings, colour notes, and photos I began a pulling it altogether as a workable scene. I tried to ensure that the livery and make of the cars were pretty close to the originals.
With all the intense and detailed preliminary stages, the final painting turned out to be the easiest part of the whole job and went in without too much bother at all.
So for me, it was a lovely job to do and I had a happy client too.
The painting it looks brilliant and appears to have captured the whole essence of the event.
Even if history or cars is not your subject, the Goodwood Revival Festival is a fantastic event and I would urge anyone to go along. It really is something special.
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