Royal butler - Paul Burrell proving a dab hand in Farndon, Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 16:56 06 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:07 20 February 2013
Princess Diana's butler Paul Burrell is back home in Farndon and revealing his artistic streak
Royal butler Paul Burrell spent years living and working in magnificent homes like Buckingham and Kensington palaces. Priceless artwork hung from the walls in just about every room and along each corridor. But Paul, now enjoying a quieter life as a florist in Cheshire, and discovering a new expression through his own watercolours, hardly noticed the important paintings in the royal residences.
Beautiful and valuable paintings were all around me, in all the royal homes, but I took hardly any notice. Can you imagine, Canaletto on the wall? I just didnt appreciate it. I took my surroundings for granted. I suppose I was young when I first began living in the royal household and I was busy and it just didnt reach me. I wish I had taken more notice and realised the beauty of what was in front of me, but I didnt. Its a shame. I would appreciate it now.
Paul, who famously spent most of his time with the royals as Princess Dianas butler held a drinks party at his pretty boutique shop in Farndon to launch his first-ever collection of watercolours. The viewers were an invited audience of friends old and new, and Cheshire Life. Most of the paintings were created last year on his travels and feature famous locations in major European cities and America.
He told me: Id never painted before but my sons, Alex and Nick, bought me watercolours for my birthday. It all began with that. I was working abroad, filming with a TV company and enjoying some leisure time as well and I thought Anyone can take a photo. Ill take a sketch book and I sketched images of many places I visited. After the sketch, completing the picture is a bit like colouring in. Ive had no training and Ive never painted before but it just seemed a very natural thing to do and I couldnt stop.
The paintings have been well-received but Im sure there is room for improvement and I will develop and get better.
His approach can be compared to that of his former boss, Prince Charles. Charles took a sketch book with him wherever he went. In recent years his paintings have been highly-acclaimed by the art world but he began modestly and developed a certain style over time. I hope I will develop and improve too.
Farndon villagers packed into the High Street shop alongside friends whod travelled from abroad. And they were snapping up Mr Burrells works. Prices ranged from 50 for a miniature of Hardwick Hall in his home county of Derbyshire to 180 for a larger painting of Berninis Neptune Fountain in Rome.
The Bernini is my favouritemaybe because I adore Bernini. He was the master sculptor, without a doubt. Rome is a wonderful city and I will go back there.
One lady had flown over especially for the launch from her home in Palm Springs
Other eye-catching pieces on display included Sunset at a Plantation House in Louisiana and Disneys Cinderella Castle. Locations closer to home that have inspired him are the parish church at Colaton Raleigh, near Beer in Devon, and St Chads Church in Farndon. I was moved to paint the church here when it was covered in snow earlier this year. I know the snow brought some chaos but it was also very beautiful. I love it and Farndon and Holt looked magical.
One lady, Sandy Warfe, had flown over especially for the launch from her home in Palm Springs. I wouldnt miss this for the world. Paul is a good friend and I wanted to support him. The paintings are lovely and Ive bought a couple. Its very exciting, she said.
There are now only six watercolours left for sale. So what will the butler do next? Im back home in Farndon. I missed England when I was away and the locals here are marvellous. They are really warm and kind to me and there is a great village atmosphere here. We all support each other. But I will travel again soon and I will be painting again. I want to go to Venice: the light and the water there are magical. I want to try to capture that. It will be a challenge but Ill enjoy it.
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