'The scene here looks utterly perfect—it’s everyone’s dream to sit reading all day with their dog on their knee. '

A Classic by Gary Bunt (b.1957), 16in by 20in, Private Collection.

Una Stubbs says:
My favourite is Hogarth’s The Shrimp Girl, but Stephen Poliakoff has already chosen that, so I’ve gone for a Gary Bunt, having discovered naïve art 20 years ago at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge. They’re so childlike and seem to grab the heart. Gary’s paintings make you laugh or weep; at his exhibitions, you see people grouped around them giggling and they always sell out. The first of his shows I visited included a painting of a dresser with a miniature depiction of one of my own paintings. Since then, I’ve got to know Gary and he’s encouraged me greatly with my own painting. The scene here looks utterly perfect—it’s everyone’s dream to sit reading all day with their dog on their knee. And, with just a couple of lines, he’s caught so skilfully the dog’s adoration.

Una Stubbs is an actress and painter. Her watercolour Grayson and Measles is in this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (until August 16)

John McEwen comments:
Among his listed achievements, which include the births of a son and a daughter, two marriages and one divorce, gary Bunt provides the following: ‘1967 20 yards Swimming Certificate—Doggy paddle; 1972 mr Howard, 6 strokes; 1987 Absolute discharge from bankruptcy; 2003 Baptism & Confirmation Certificate; 2005 Parking ticket Tonbridge & malling District Council.

Mr Bunt was a successful painter of conventional nudes and Venetian and London views, but, in 2001, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. ‘I lay in bed wondering if I’d make it to the end of the year. The next morning I woke up and painted My New Wallpaper, a memory of myself as a boy in bed with measles reading Prince Caspian. I didn’t plan it, but it was completely different in style to the paintings I’d been doing, which I never felt were really me.’

Since 2008, he has had regular exhibitions at London’s Portland Gallery and become a best-selling artist. Mary Miers wrote: ‘What is it about his work that has struck such a chord with his growing fan club? Certainly, he has an ability to make people smile. Quaint, almost childlike, his familiar scenes, each with its own poem, express a nostalgic view of England that radiates warmth and human sentiment’ (Country Life, December 1, 2010).

The ‘antithesis of pretentiousness’, he lives in Kent with his parents, wife and daughter in his mother’s childhood home. This picture’s poem is:

The sound of the sea
My dog next to me
There’s nothing more that I need
Life seems complete
With the weight off my feet
And a Penguin classic to read

This article was originally published in Country Life, July 22 2015

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