Joanna was first commissioned to paint Moonraker in 2019 by a client/collector who was born in Wiltshire, as people born in the county are often called Moonrakers. Unfortunately, she was only at the drawing stage when the Covid pandemic broke out and she was unable to complete the painting until 2021 as it became impossible to research the period detail.
Most of Wiltshire claims a connection with the Moonraker
legend. A plaque next to the Crammer Pond on The Green in Devizes recounts a
story of how a group of men from Bishops Cannings – the pond came under the
parish of Bishops Cannings in the 18th century – brought contraband brandy from
Portsmouth, transporting it across Salisbury Plain to the pond in Devizes.
Hearing of excise officers being in the area, the men sank the barrels in the
pond. A few nights later, thinking the coast was clear, they returned to hook
the casks out of the water with agricultural rakes. They were challenged by a
group of excise officers who demanded to know what they were up to. One bright
spark pointed to the reflection of the full moon in the water and replied:
‘’We’m raking out that gurt yaller cheese in yonder pond.’’ Briefly translated,
‘’We are trying to get that great yellow cheese out of the pond’’.
The officers rode off, chuckling over the idiocy of these
local yokels, whilst the said yokels retrieved the precious brandy and had the
Joanna’s Moonraker Painting
Joanna’s research narrowed the legend down to between 1787
and 1791, which was during George III’s reign and the same period in which the
fictional Poldark lived. It is believed that tricorn hats were the common dress
for a smuggler. As well as hiring a period costume for the detail, she was able
to locate an old wooden bulldog rake that would have been used around this
From an old etching which was produced of St Marys Church
and the Devizes Pond in the 18th Century, she could see that there was a dirt
track to the left of the pond passing the church of St Mary’s. Very few
buildings would have existed at the time and the pond would have been
surrounded by common land.
Joanna’s client wanted her to include one of her well-known
hares in the foreground and she also illustrated a hare ghosted in the moon.
It was a coincidence that Joanna’s parents named their first
boat Moonraker after the legend. Her mother, who grew up in London, had heard
of it whilst at school and little did Joanna know that, one day, she would live
in Devizes, the home of the Moonraker legend.
Medium used – liquid acrylic and gouache
Mounted Paper Print – size 64.5 x 71 cm with a limited print run of 250
Framed Print 64.5 x 71 cm with limited run of 250