Monday 2 March 2020


Hot on the heels of the Upper Heyford Bazaar story from Karen McNulty Bussa in the USA, featuring Jago Stone and the English Village paintings and prints - open this link for that tale - comes this discovery gifted by Ingrid Helmer.

Just over a week ago, Ingrid sent me this email:

'When my mother [born in 1928 - the same year as Jago Stone] moved to a care center a year ago, we had to 'declutter' a house that had lovingly been filled with all sorts of books and works of art accumulated over a period of more than 50 years.

The Jago Stone 1968 pen and colour wash (?) - [Robbers Bridge - of Lorna Done Fame - Jago Stone (1968)] - that I remember from my childhood had found its way to the top floor of the house. It ended up in my attic until I had time to sort things out, which was last week. I asked Mum about the artwork and she remembered buying it during a short break with my Dad at Bardon Manor Guest House in Washford, Somerset.

Robbers Bridge - of Lorna Doone Fame - Jago Stone (1968)

There was an exhibition at Bardon Manor Guest House but it wasn't to open until the day after they would depart. Their host let them have a sneak preview and they were so charmed by Jago Stone's Robbers Bridge of Lorna Doone Fame they were allowed to buy it (for £10) before the official opening.

Looking up Jago Stone on the internet I came across your website and thought you might be
interested to hear about this story. [Yes, indeed, Ingrid! - and many thanks for the story, the images, and the permission to include them in this blogpost.]

I am sending you a photo of the pen and colour wash and a copy of a card of Bardon Manor also by Jago Stone.

Kind regards


Here is Jago's card for Bardon Manor:

Bardon Manor Guest House Card - Jago Stone (1968) 

The next day, Ingrid responded to my email:

'Of course you can use the image, Rob. Both my mother and I would be delighted.

Just a bit of background information. My parents are Norma and Herman Helmer. My mother is Australian, my father is Dutch. That's how the painting ended up in the Netherlands. In 1970 we spent our Summer holidays with my Mum's sister and family who lived in London for a year (on long service leave). While my brother and I were looked after by the Aussie relatives, Mum and Dad spent a few days at Bardon Manor Guest House. You already know the rest of the story.'

In our email correspondence last week, I told Ingrid that in my biography of Jago there is a transcript of an interview that the actor and film-maker, Kenneth Griffith, conducted with Jago in 1969 where the two of them are laughing about the title of a painting that Jago was working on - 'Robbers Bridge'. Jago knew how to create a best-seller!

I also sent Ingrid an image of a Jago Stone palette-knife that has been with Louise my wife's family since around 1969 and now is part of our collection. It is untitled but carries Jago's signature and the inscription: 'Bardon 1968'.

Untitled - Jago Stone (Bardon, 1968)

Louise's parents - Ronald and Phyllis Watkins - had also spent time at the Bardon Guest House, probably in 1969, with their friends and neighbours, Helen Hodge and her husband. They had made that trip to Somerset from Gerrard's Cross, Buckinghamshire expressly to see Jago Stone who had the use of a studio there in Bardon whilst working his pitch in Gerrard's Cross where his talent was attracting interest.

Ingrid thought our 'Bardon 1968' palette-knife was 'beautiful'. She went on to share her thoughts about the merits of Jago's artwork:

'I think I like the palette-knives and oil paintings better than his watercolours, even though I do appreciate that the watercolours are of much more personal value to the owners, depicting their homes and other known landmarks.'

We agree. Ingrid has captured what Jago himself understood when he said in another interview recorded in the biography that he painted his landscapes to provide the means to live so he could paint his palette-knives. He sensed the talent that they expressed.

Ronald and Phyllis did bring back another palette-knife from that trip. It too is now part of our collection. They really had an eye for very good art. Here is that second palette-knife which has a strong claim to be my favourite Jago painting:

Untitled - Jago Stone (1969) 
We call this 'Lady on Stairway'

In a most interesting twist to the tale, Helen Hodge - who knew more about art than Ronald and Phyllis and was the organiser for Jago's exhibition in an Eton High Street gallery - emigrated some years later to Australia to join members of her family there. Another Australian connection has already emerged with the Lozzie Watts story, a few months ago - see this link here. And now we have the Australian-born Norma Helmer, the mother of Ingrid, adding a further dimension. If any of Helen Hodge's family ever end up reading this blogpost, do please get in touch. Imagine the works of talent that Helen might have brought back from Bardon!!    


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