Saturday 10th September marks the start of Devon Open Studios where artists from all over the county will open their studios to the public. This annual event inspired us to delve into the archive in search of material on Devon artists and we came across this wonderful book entitled, ‘A Devon Sketchbook’ by Walter Henry Sweet.

Walter Sweet was born in 1889 in Exeter where his father was a wood carver working for Whipples, the well-known firm of ecclesiastical outfitters. He displayed a precocious artistic talent while studying at St John’s School and went on to become an outstanding student at the Exeter School of Art.

Sweet is best known for his atmospheric watercolours of moorland, coastal and architectural subjects and when his watercolours come up for sale, they command very good prices. A.T. Littlewood purchased a sketchbook by Sweet at auction in 2002 and was so struck by the draughtsmanship of his sketches that he endeavoured to publish the work in its entirety for others to enjoy.

What is most striking about the sketches in the book is that although they are of recognisable places in Devon, they capture a moment in time that speaks strongly of Devon’s past and an older way of life, particularly in its rural communities. 

The book is available to view in our archive and Devon Open Studios runs from 10th to the 25th of September.
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