Constable revisited

DESCENDANTS of the great East Anglian painter John Constable pushed their creative skills to the limit as they took part in a live television attempt to produce a giant, modern day version of the artist's masterpiece.

DESCENDANTS of the great East Anglian painter John Constable pushed their creative skills to the limit as they took part in a live television attempt to produce a giant, modern day version of the artist's masterpiece.

More than 100 artists, led by television star Rolf Harris, and including three generations of the Constable family, battled against the clock to complete a new version of The Haywain in just a single day.

Constable, who was born in East Bergholt in 1776, himself took five months to finish the masterpiece in 1821 but last night a similar feat had to be completed on a 30ft by 20ft canvas pitched in London's Trafalgar Square. It featured a giant grid of 144 different canvasses.

Among the artists taking part was the famous painter's great-great-great-great-grandson, John Constable, aged seven, who was joined by his grandmother, Freda Constable, and father, John Constable, from Great Glemham, near Framlingham.

They completed their part of the painting mosaic at Flatford on the River Stour.

The trio, and other artists at the site, were linked live to Trafalgar Square as the canvas, the size of a double-decker bus, took shape on the BBC1 programme, Rolf on Art - The Big Event. The canvasses were flown to London by helicopter.

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The BBC series focuses on great masters and provided an insight into Constable's life during last night's programme including how a sketch of a horse-drawn cart in Flatford led to one of the country's most famous and best-loved paintings.

Back in London, Rolf led artists - including schoolchildren, doctors, train drivers, botanists and some famous faces, including actress Jane Seymour and television presenter Anneka Rice – who all worked on their version of the masterpiece.

Rolf said: "Art is something for everyone to enjoy in one way or another. All you need is passion and inspiration, and I hope that through this event we will pass that on to the viewers watching at home."

Freda Constable, widow of John's great-great-grandson, painted one canvas with her son, while her grandson did his own painting. They were joined by other members of the Constable family.