Open House at Gateway Cottage

Former TV presenter, Tony Francis has turned his Hawridge Common cottage into a dazzling art gallery for the winter. He produced such a huge collection of work before and during Covid that the house is bursting with paintings.

Says Tony, “There just room to hang them all. They’re squeezed into every corner, including the summer house.” Visitors are invited to browse among a cornucopia of colourful and highly original paintings. His themes range from Ashridge landscapes to semi-abstract still lifes, to a series of aboriginal-inspired images which earned him acclaim at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition for the last two years.

“I admire the way aboriginals used earth pigments with their hands to paint visual messages on cave walls. The pictures are full of codes and symbols, just like maps. The colours and patterns are magical.”

Tony retired from presenting sport on BBC and ITV and closed his independent TV company, Kingfisher after 25 years of producing wildlife and countryside programmes. He says the countryside has always been in his blood. “You have to put up with glis glis invading your loft space and muntjacs eating your roses, but I wouldn’t change it.”

Look out for the sandwich board “A Winter’s Tale” outside Gateway Cottage and pop in any time you like. Or phone 07730 012960. It’s open house all through the winter.