Images of changing Sussex

David Johnston has picked up a paint brush for the first time in 30 years to record the Sussex we are losing.

After three decades recording the changing face of Sussex as a photographer, Dave, who lives in Petworth, now returns to painting to continue his chronicle of transition. Dave is showing the results in an exhibition at the Forge Gallery in Walberton running from June 6-13. Using his own personal archive of photographs and using old and rare lithographs as a guide, he has brought to life the old-world charm of the watermills, windmills, old farms and ancient buildings of Sussex.

David Johnston -  the old Lurgashall Mill, as it was in the mid 1940s

David Johnston - the old Lurgashall Mill, as it was in the mid 1940s

Dave is already the author of the book West Sussex Barns & Farm Buildings; his aim is to continue to develop his watercolour portfolio with a view to reproducing them in book form.

For Dave, painting is a return to his roots: “I started off painting in my earliest days, as far back as ever I can remember. I was doing small pencil drawings or just playing around with paints. I drew everything around me. I progressed through the years enjoying the painting I did. I went on to oil painting and then on to acrylics, always self-taught.”

And now he’s returned to his painting, this time combining watercolour with his love of Sussex and his awareness of the changes the county has undergone: “I wanted to bring together everything capturing the Sussex of the past. With my photos, I felt I had gone as far as I could with that subject. I have gone back to painting to capture everything in watercolours. I am talking about the old mills that have gone to conversion, and some of the mills have gone completely. The natural landscape of Sussex has altered in a lot of ways. We have lost a lot of the beautiful old working farms that I remember from when I was a child. Now so much has changed. Farmers have found it difficult to live from farming, and lots of farms have been sold.”