One Man's Materpiece


Clive Fewins

Published in Homebuilding & Renovating October 2009

Photography by Jeremy Phillips

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Homebuilding & Renovating October 2009

Artist, photographer, poet, musician and self Builder, Graham Ovenden believes "it is bad for the soul to be in too much of a hurry" -- a good job, as he has been building his charming dream home for 35 years, on and off.
raham Ovenden describes his house as being "two left turns from London" There are 240 miles in between, but this is basically correct, providing you take the appropriate left turn off the A30 as you approach Bodmin. This does not make Barley Splatt Farm easy to find, because it lies beside a fast-running stream in a remote section of moorland. However, once you have found the correct second left turn, it is almost impossible to miss it because the road ends at Barley Splatt. The name 'splatt' means 'field'. It is an intriguing name for a highly idiosyncratic house: an asymmetrical Gothic fantasy built around an ordinary little 17th century cob and stone cottage. When he first saw it 35 years ago, the site, which goes back many centuries, immediately appealed to Graham, a poet, writer and photographer of note as well as an accomplished musician and self-builder of talent. However, it is as a leading exponent of the English Ruralist tradition of painting that he is best known.