This atmospheric painting by Tristram Paul Hillier shows an unsettling scene of Somerset in wartime.

Hillier, the son of a British diplomat, was born in China and trained first at the Slade School of Art in London and then in Paris. He became a Surrealist painter and a member of Unit One, the group led by Paul Nash. Hillier lived in Paris until 1940, when he moved back to England. During the war he took refuge in Somerset and eventually settled there. The Vale from Cucklington depicts the Medieval church of St Lawrence with the Somerset fields in the distance. The moody scene is one of desolation, with fallen branches, a broken fence and an inert church bell. It is a fine example of the more subtle form of Surrealism for which Hillier became known, and as a resonant image of the local landscape it now makes a fitting addition to the Museum of SomersetÂ’s collection.

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