Commodore John Keegan OBE RN


Photo by Caitlyn Wilson

I was lucky enough to serve in the Royal Navy for some 36 years between 1977 and 2013 at which time I was medically discharged with Parkinson’s like symptoms.

I often wonder how this choice of Career came about: I suspect strongly that it was because my Father said that I couldn’t join up and I didn’t know if he meant that I may not or could not. 

Soon my 18th Birthday I applied anyway!

So, I arrived at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth (just known a BRNC for short) along with a long list of clothing items considered essential (such as stiff collar and studs, non-metallic hangers etc) and the great adventure began.

Reading time: 1 min

I am talking to Matthew Wright an artist, who is mainly known to us for his oil paintings, his ink and watercolour paintings depicting numerous scenes of Surrey and around London, as well as for his work with pastels.

Matthew was born in London in 1945. As a child, he attended the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington, London. Then he attended the Byam Shaw School of Art, where he was recognised and won first prize for drawing and painting and also won the David Murray Travelling Scholarship to France. 

From 1966 to 1969 he continued his education at the Royal Academy Schools, and in 1969, on completion, he won again a prestigious First Landseer Prize and Silver Medal for three drawings of the head.

Between 1971 and 2006 Matthew held numerous exhibitions in London galleries of Hampstead, Camden Town, Chelsea, Highgate and Cork Street.

When it comes to his everyday life, he spends a considerable amount of time with his wife and family in his riverside Chertsey home in Surrey, and he frequently visits his second home in the south of France during the summer months, where he exhibits his work from his home and Atelier in the Old Town of Céret.

How old were you when you first realised that you were very good at drawing and painting?

I was about four years old when I did my first picture and my mother commented on it and said:” that is really fantastic, you must continue doing more work.” So, four is the earliest. 

It seems that art has been with you most of your life. 

Yes, it has been with me most of my life, which I probably inherited from my grandparents and my parents. My parents were both architects, and my mother was also an artist. She went to Chelsea Art College, and her father, my grandfather, was a sculptor, quite a well-known sculptor in London. His name was Newbury Abbot Trent (14 October 1885 – 2 August 1953), and my great uncle was also a London sculptor whose work is even more well known in London and his name was Gilbert Ledward (23 January 1888 – 21 June 1960).

Newbury Trent’s relief panels for Apollo, Victoria, London Cinema
Gilbert Ledward’s Venus fountain, Sloane Square, London.

Obviously, there is an amazing talent that runs in the family. So, when you were at the Royal Academy of Art and got your prestigious First Landseer Prize, named after another prominent British painter, it gave you, not only a deserving recognition for your talent, ability and your art by highly qualified artists other than your family, but also the confidence for life. 

That is true. Because I was at the Royal Academy Schools, that is already a tribute to the work that I’ve had done. Just to be able to get there. You are already selected before applying to enter the Royal Academy. You are vetted by your previous Art College, in my case the Byam Shaw, and they put my name down as a suitable candidate to try for The Royal Academy. And then you have a one-in-250 chance of getting in, because they only accept  25 to 30 people every year.

So, by getting in you knew that your work was already recognised.

In a way it was difficult for me, because if you are an artist, you are very sensitive. So suddenly you are put on a pedestal. Everyone knows you are good, so everything you do has to be, good!

That puts you under pressure. Yes, I had a difficult time when I was in the Academy and did not produce much good work.

But you must have, as on completion you were awarded the First Landseer Prize and won a Silver Medal. 

I did alright with my drawing, and my drawing kept me going really well, but the painting – I could not settle down to be the oil painter that I now am. I needed to get through the Royal Academy, leave, and then settle down and find myself.

Please tell us how it has happened that you decided to choose as your topic for your ink and watercolour paintings to paint the scenes of our villages and towns from around Britain? 

This happened because when I had my final show at the Royal Academy, which is called your Diploma Show, galleries from around London came to look at the various artists’ work, who were leaving College that year, and one gallery in Hampstead picked me out and said: ”We are prepared to give you an exhibition of your work when you leave.” So, I had my first exhibition up in Hampstead. They said:” Would you mind doing us a picture of some part of Hampstead to produce as the poster for your forthcoming show? It will help to get more publicity if the posters go up around town in Hampstead”. The poster did so well, people kept coming back to the gallery, to buy a poster. So, the Gallery said they thought I had a very good market for doing that sort of work, and particularly there in Hampstead, and they also said they would be happy to show my work of anything  I did of Hampstead. So, I started to produce many, many pictures of Hampstead and then that turned into producing them as prints and then finally as cards. 

We can now find them all over the place: in post offices, in bookshops and in some gift shops.

Yes, they are mostly in bookshops, principally in many Waterstones in central London. I also supply many other places such as the Weybridge Post Office where they have exclusivity of the local cards.

Matthew and his wife form a very good team for providing us with Matthew’s amazing postcards and prints. He paints them and his wife prints them.

You paint in oil; you also paint in ink and watercolour, as well as in pastels. Which art medium is your favourite?

The one I like best is oil painting. It is far more ambitious, and it is more challenging. However, I am much more comfortable with the pen and ink watercolours, which comes naturally to me.

Your oil painting, it looks like it just effortlessly happens, too. I am very appreciative of your paintings.

River, oil painting by Matthew Wright

Why is art important to you?

I suppose, because of my fascination for trying to find oneself through that medium. It is challenging; I love colour and I love the medium of oil, so that is probably why.

I am going to ask you a couple of questions, but I am not sure if you will be able to answer them.

I viewed your oil paintings via your gallery. They reflect the beauty and happiness of life and the colours are quite magical. That is how I perceive them.

I want to ask, what inspires you to choose the particular colours and mix them the way you do for your paintings?

Céret, Sitting room, oil painting by Matthew Wright

That is very, very difficult to answer, because that is for me the magic of painting, and it normally comes about through something inside me in the way I see things and eventually will come out through the colour. Do not ask me how I mix the colours or why I mix them in that way, because I do not know myself, and sometimes I would finish a picture and say, “I am not happy with it,” and put it away to the side in the studio and start something else. And I come back the next day and look at it and say:’ but that is fine, why did I throw it out?’ And you sometimes cannot recognise what you have done, and it takes my wife and my family to look at something and say, “Oh, I really love that one”. And you are not aware why they like that, but not another one. I suppose it is a personal taste. 

My other difficult question is this: We are surrounded by beautiful scenes, landscapes, flowers, beautiful nature. We have got it first-hand every day, and we have got it as accurate as it can be and as it is, so why is it and what is it that makes a painter paint the scenes? Then we, the admirers, buy the picture, hang this picture of the scenes on the wall, it often stays with us all our life and it becomes part of our life. Why do we do this?

I think we all associate ourselves with the areas where we live, whether it is just the habitual use of a place where we live. For instance, you are here in Weybridge, and you know streets of Weybridge and some mean more to you than others, and I would go myself around town and find places that I like.

So, these are some aesthetic features that we want to point out, and it is the artist who is showing and drawing attention to them.

Showing the way in a way. 

Yes. The colours, the magic, and we do not know why.

We do not know why exactly, but I suppose it is just the fact that you recognise the area, and it means something to you because you walk down that road every day, or whatever it is. There is a connection between you and your environment and where you live, that in one sense you can call magical. 

Would you say that it is some feature, like the sense of aesthetics, which is very characteristic to us humans, that makes us do these things? 

I think so, but I suppose you can even take it to the basics of an animal. An animal has its own little area that it feels happy with, and it’ll fight for that corner where it lives. 

So, in many ways, we do fight for our own environment where we live and do not want to see things change. Why do we not want things to change? Because aesthetically they are pleasing to us. 

My question is really about, why we bother to do this. We can just go out and look at this building or tree, but then we decide to paint it and hang it on our walls as pictures. This is a difficult question, maybe a nonsense question.

It is not a nonsense question, it is an interesting one, it is about why we do it? I think it is the association we have with that area. As you just said, you can walk out and just have a look at it, or you could take a photograph of it and put it on your wall.

It is not the same, though.

There is no emotion or feeling in the photograph that will come through as deep as a personal reflection. 

So, we get the feeling of that particular person who is painting, and that is another kind of extra magic in life.

It is. It’s because you actually see it in a way through the eye of what the painter saw. 

That is what you are actually seeing.

I have got the answer. Thank you, that is very lovely to find out.

What do you like to do when you are not painting? Do you have other interests?

I do not have many. I row on the river, and I like nature very much, obviously, from what I do, but because now I am somewhat handicapped, I can’t get out as much as I used to, which is annoying. So, I read, I probably watch far too much TV and I tend to work every day as a rule.

Do you go to other exhibitions?

I go occasionally to exhibitions mostly in London with a friend of mine that I have known for the last 35 years. We meet up and visit galleries in London. 

Do you sometimes go to Switzerland, like to Basel that is full of galleries?

No, I do not travel very far because of my handicap. I tend to go by car, and often galleries are situated in parts of towns where you cannot get your car close to, and it involves a lot of walking. So, viewing galleries becomes more and more problematical.

Once you find yourself in the situation you suddenly may discover that the appropriate facilities are not always there. That poses an unnecessary obstacle for people with particular needs.

From the environmental point of view, do you think that there is space for improvement of the artist’s way of life?

I know, for instance, that paints in the 19th century, at the time of Sir Edwin Landseer and Van Gogh were very toxic. They are not toxic now. 

I only use recognised artists’ oil paints. I do not know how they can be improved. I tend to keep my window open when I paint or when I clean my brushes for health reasons.

I would like to thank you for your beautiful art and for making it available to us via various outlets like Waterstones bookstores, post offices, including our own in Weybridge, some gift shops and of course your website.


We are very lucky to have you living in Chertsey, within our reach, and we are very proud to have artists like yourself in our community.

Thank you for taking your time and talking to us.

Thank you very much for interviewing me and for appreciating my work. It is very kind of you.

Weybridge Lock 1997 Watercolour and Ink by Mathew Wright Postcard
St James’ Church, Watercolour and ink by Matthew Wright
Reading time: 11 min

Radek Kosarzycki

11th January 2022

Wind turbine in front of the house. Here’s a new idea

We associate wind turbines mainly with large windmills that stand somewhere in the fields. Recently, we have also heard more and more about wind turbines placed on lakes and at sea. What if you put a wind turbine next to your home? Do you think it’s going to be ugly and non-functional? Nothing could be further from the truth. Here is a modern wall of wind turbines that looks nice and gives you free electricity.

Wind turbines can take different shapes than classic windmills. Today we will focus on the energy wall consisting of several dozen small turbines. However, it is worth recalling that there are also vertical wind turbines, as well as those in the shape of giant vibrators.

Wind farms have long been considered one of the most important solutions in the field of energy. The wind moving the blades of powerful wind turbines is an extremely clean renewable energy source. If only it was possible to create an inconspicuous, pocket version of such a turbine.

Every now and then we can read about another new and the largest wind turbine capable of powering tens of thousands of houses all at once, and this is again about some new wind farm standing on the open waters of seas or even lakes. Such turbines, however, do not belong to inconspicuous devices. The largest turbines are visible in the landscape even from a distance of several miles. In the immediate vicinity, however, they are objects completely dominant to the landscape.

For this reason, it is rare to see wind turbines placed by private individuals outside their homes in order to generate electricity for their own use. After all, even a small turbine would still have to be quite a large construction.

The power wall consists of dozens of small wind turbines

This is the idea of Joe Doucet, an American designer and entrepreneur. When you look at the design he developed, it’s hard to say that it could be a wind turbine at all. According to the designer’s assurances, the wall of wind turbines will be able to generate up to 10,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year, which should be enough to power the entire house.

Theoretically, it is such small structures that can contribute the most to humanity’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Powerful wind turbines or entire wind farms require appropriate conditions, a sufficiently large, open area and colossal financial outlays, therefore they certainly will not appear in every possible and suitable place for them. However, if people were able to put their own wall of wind turbines next to their home at a relatively low cost, the effect of scale could be enormous. It is worth noting that the mass production of a large number of such turbines would automatically reduce their price, increasing accessibility for an increasing number of consumers interested in ecological and cheap electricity.

The wind turbine wall proposed by Doucet is 240 cm high and 760 cm wide and consists of several dozen small surfaces rotated by the wind flowing through it. The energy generated by these tiles is then transferred to batteries installed on the wall of the building.

Currently, talks are underway with potential entities interested in introducing the device into production.

Reading time: 2 min


22 OCTOBER 2021

Scientists from Oxford focused on the efficiency of wind turbines. Thousands of hours of computer simulations have shown that wind turbines with rotors with the vertical axis of rotation are much more efficient than typical, well-known to us “windmills”.

Wind turbines as we know them can go into oblivion. Scientific simulations carried out by scientists from Oxford Brookes University indicate that the design of wind turbines should be completely changed. How big is the change?

Sometimes the simplest methods turn out to be the most workable. The wind is the cleanest, cheapest and always available source of energy that can be converted into electricity. Scientists have conducted studies in which it can be obtained from the wind even more. Simply…by positioning the turbines vertically.

Until now, we associated wind power plants with large horizontal turbines powered by powerful rotors usually consisting of three blades. However, research indicates that vertical turbines may be more efficient.

How does a vertical turbine differ from a horizontal one?

Before we answer this question, let’s explain the difference between horizontal and vertical turbines. Their orientation is determined in relation  to the axis of the rotor. Horizontal turbines are those that we know from Polish farm winds: a high pole, with a spinning windmill on its side.   Vertical turbines, in turn, are those that in terms of rotation axis resemble helicopter rotors. In the case of a wind farm, such a turbine is placed on top of the pole.

Typical wind farms consist of multiple turbines standing at a short distance from each other. Their weakness, however, lies in the fact that when the wind blows, only those turbines that the wind hits first work most efficiently. Calculations indicate that such turbines can convert about 50 per cent of wind into electricity. However, when the wind passes between the rotor blades, its flow will be disturbed by them, and thus the kinetic energy will decrease. Therefore, all subsequent turbines on a given farm will generate much less energy.

And then the computer simulations come in, all in white.

Researchers at Oxford Brookes University set out to see if there is a version of wind turbines that will be able to manage the wind stream more efficiently so that further turbines also generate more electricity. More than 11,000 hours of computer simulations have established that wind turbines with rotors whose axis of rotation is vertically positioned are much more efficient than typical “windmills”.

When the simulation set the turbines of the new type in pairs, they mutually increased their efficiency in generating electricity by 15 percent. Engineers point out that turbines of this type can be placed much closer to each other, thanks to which their efficiency will increase instead of decreasing, as is currently the case. Higher efficiency means lower electricity costs.

The researchers argue that the results of their simulations may prove to be extremely important in the process of transition of the whole world to renewable energy sources. The recently published Global Wind Report 2021 indicates that to meet the objectives of the current treaties and avoid irreversible climate change, wind farms should be installed in the world three times faster than at present. If it is possible to create denser and more efficient wind farms, the goal will be at least a little closer to us.

do-follow: Klasyczne turbiny wiatrowe mogą zniknąć. Naukowcy wiedzą czym zastąpić wiatraki (

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