Michael Eavis on Constable Private View


Michael Eavis on Constable

Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis has an advance view of the Victoria and Albert Museum's major exhibition of the works of John Constable.


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I'm here in London at the Victoria And Albert Museum

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to see the wonderful works of John Constable, of who I'm a huge fan.

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People know me best for the...the Glastonbury Festival

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that I started in 1970,

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but first and foremost, you know, I'm really a dairy farmer.

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I'm Michael Eavis and this is my private view of Constable.

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It's incredible, the beauty and the detail.

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Oh, fantastic.

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Look at the wheels on that wagon.

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The steel rims around the outside of...of the wheel,

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look at them shining.

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Amazing.

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And a couple of ducks here, look, mating away.

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That child's got a whip.

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But horses don't usually need whips, actually.

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But racehorses maybe, but not these horses.

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So full of the desire to work and to pull

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and to...

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Amazing creatures, they really are.

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My father's love for his horses was...insurmountable, really.

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He had two or three horses and his favourite horse died,

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and...and it was...it was one of two occasions in my life when I...

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I saw him break down and cry about the loss of the horse, you know,

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because it meant so much to him.

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The horse was the main...creature on the farm, really,

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apart from his wife, I suppose.

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HE LAUGHS

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Oh, it's so beautiful.

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I mean it...it's a really romantic view of England at its best,

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with the church and the village

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and the...the farmer

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and the two reapers over here, look.

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They're drinking out of the stream.

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I used to do that when I was a kid, you know,

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drink the spring water from the fields on my farm.

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And we used to catch eels with bare hands,

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you're going down into the river...

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and picking great long eels out of the water, so thrilling.

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So joyful and so real.

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That turns you into a real person.

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See the plough, the horse-drawn plough?

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No horse, though, to go with the plough, but, em...

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that's what they would actually plough the field up,

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to plant the wheat.

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Em, there's a genuine article there

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and I...I pulled many a plough, actually.

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I mean, when I was a child with my father and, em,

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I've got fantastic memories of living in the country when I was that age.

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It might be romantic, but...but what's wrong with romance?

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It's fantastic.

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So, this is Stonehenge.

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It's a bit, em, sort of topsy-turvy, isn't it?

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I mean, it's very atmospheric and the sky is lovely,

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rays of light coming through as well.

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I mean, it's...it's very magical and mystical,

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the hippies would love it.

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When I was a kid, you know, we used to go past there

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cos we had some uncles and cousins there,

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and we used to play cricket,

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and we actually used the stones as the wickets.

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We had a piece of chalk and we just drew...

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we drew the stumps on the stone, you know?

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A terribly wicked thing to do,

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but we didn't think there was anything wrong with doing that.

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And so we'd ball up against it with the proper cricket ball,

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and had the time of our lives.

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They're very good wickets, actually, the stones.

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HE LAUGHS

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I think it's a pretty good drawing of the horse...

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painting of the horse, actually,

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because they're very muscular, you know, the cart horses.

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Look at the size of his backside.

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I love the colour of the water there.

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The... The light on the water coming through these, the lock gates.

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And the way that that's built from... from those old timbers,

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isn't it fantastic?

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Bits of iron going rusty there, you know, holding it all together.

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It's beautiful, absolutely beautiful stuff.

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You do take ownership a little bit, you know,

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while you live in the country, you take stock of where you are

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and, eh, you sort of take ownership of it in a way,

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"And that's ours, and that's ours."

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And... And you do focus on your own patch,

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on your own sort...sort of space, really, and...so that...

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so that those are the bits that you love the most

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cos that's where you are and that's where you were brought up,

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and that's why it's so... it's so special to him,

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this bit of Suffolk, because that's where he was born and bred,

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that was his life.

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You don't wander far away from that, you know?

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Never.

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Extraordinary really, isn't it?

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So, this is The Village Fair, East Bergholt.

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I used to work on this sort of thing in Pilton when I was about 15.

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Could be my village, in fact, 200 years ago.

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The fairs have been going since 1100, you know, the sheep fairs,

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and the country fair, you know.

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# John Pearce, John Pearce

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# Lend me a grey mare

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# Out along, down along, right along lee

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# And oft I go to Widdecombe Fair... #

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They were very traditional fairs for farmers

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to sell sheep and horses, really.

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A lot of people gathering round the stage there, look.

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And they're listening to... Oh, I don't know,

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the equivalent of Billy Bragg or something.

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Look at this rain, isn't it lovely? These people are going to

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get absolutely drenched in no time at all.

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HE LAUGHS

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What an incredible...painting of the sky and the clouds and the rain

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and the darkness of the clouds looks quite unattractive

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and quite threatening and quite frightening in a way.

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It's not one that I would choose to hang up at Worthy Farm, actually.

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I mean, I prefer the other one,

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the one with the fairground.

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He lost his wife, didn't he? Bless his heart.

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He had a lovely wife and she died at the age of 41 or something.

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Churchill used to talk about

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the...the darkness in the sky that made him depressed,

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and there's obviously something in that, then, I suppose.

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But he could still paint.

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This is where they built the barges, looked after the barges,

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to move the grain around, I suppose, from his father's milling business.

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No cows so far.

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HE CHUCKLES

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I say it regrettably.

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And there's a girl there, a little girl.

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Must be enjoying herself while her dad's doing the work on the boat.

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Lots of tools lying around.

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He's cutting some old timber, isn't he?

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The... The shape of the boat.

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But these are the clinker pieces

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that they put together to make a boat, you don't...

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To make it float and stop it leaking and everything.

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I bet he knew a lot about this, you know,

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with his father having the mill

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and he would have been aware of all the work involved with...

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with keeping the barges floating, keeping them going.

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But he didn't want to do it himself, did he?

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Because he was a great painter.

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And he did what he could do best and thank God he did, eh?

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Path To The Church.

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Constable likes his little church towers, doesn't he?

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But I'm a Methodist myself, so we don't have churches.

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We have little chapels.

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And... And so it's all about praising your creator, you know,

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whatever the creation is, whatever the mystery of life is,

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but it's praising and saying, "Thanks for this, this is fantastic."

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# Love divine, all love's excelling

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# Joy from heaven to earth come down... #

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That sort of thing.

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I mean, whether you believe in God or whether you don't,

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it doesn't really matter that much, but you can still enjoy singing.

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The elm trees are fantastic.

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God, we haven't got elm trees any more,

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but they will come back one day.

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They'll be the same as these, I think.

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They'll be everywhere again and...

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But there'll be new Constables painting them.

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So they're coming back, yeah.

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Ah, so lovely sunset.

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God, that could be Worthy Farm, you know? In the evening.

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Say about an hour after the sun has set - there's no...sun there,

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but there's the glow of... the red glow of the...the sky.

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Lovely.

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Fantastic, isn't it?

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And the whole gentle valley,

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look at the lovely valley with the sloping fields and the trees.

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Loads of elm trees.

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Beautiful, aren't they?

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And the sky, the glow.

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So that's a godly picture, that one, isn't it?

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Yeah, lovely.

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And it's very soothing, actually, and it's very therapeutic as well,

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you know, people that... that are...

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that are slightly bothered about city life

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and lack of employment and things.

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And that they can come and sit in a field like that

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and really find some peace and some solace and some happiness.

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Constable probably felt it was a privilege for him to be able

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to paint all these lovely scenes from his land that he was familiar with.

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He must...have had so much pleasure from it,

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and so much contentment and joy, I would have thought.

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Satisfaction.

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It's quite easy to talk about these pictures

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because there's so much stuff in there that I'm familiar with.

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And it fits in with me and my background

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and my upbringing, in fact, too, you know?

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It's all in these pictures, it's all there.

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I've really enjoyed it, thank you very much.

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Exclusively for BBC iPlayer, Glastonbury Festival founder and working dairy farmer Michael Eavis, opens the doors of the Victoria and Albert Museum for a private view of a major new exhibition of the works of John Constable. Perhaps more than any other painter, Constable perfectly captured not just the beauty but also the day-to-day reality of rural and agricultural Britain.


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