Renowned landscape painter Grant Dejonge turned firefighter when his home-made wooden studio went up in smoke.
Hundreds of pounds worth of artwork was lost despite his frantic efforts to put out the blaze in the back garden of his Plumpton home with buckets of water.
The alarm was raised by the Dejonge’s quick-thinking 14-year-old son Alex who phoned his dad after seeing the studio door burst open with smoke and flames billowing out.
Grant – who had been working nearby – arrived on the scene within minutes.
“Several pressurised aerosol cans had gone off like hand grenades,” said Grant, 49, who despite the danger dashed back inside the burning structure to make sure a container full of highly flammable white spirit did not get consumed by the flames.
“My big fear was that it would explode and spread the fire to an adjoining storage shed where more valuable artworks are kept,” he said.
“Like the studio, I’m gutted. There was very little else left to salvage. Several paintings have been destroyed.”
He added: “I’ve lost most of my tools and materials including oil paints, brushes and palette knives but I’m going to try to take a positive from this and rebuild the studio better than ever.”
Firefighters arrived at the family home at Tenby Cottages in Lewes Road, Plumpton, in time to douse the smoking embers of the studio which the artist built himself using recycled timber and driftwood.
There was more bad news for the Dejonges when they discovered the studio was not covered by the house insurance.
Now the artist is appealing to the local community to help refurbish the burned out shell of his workplace.
“I’m putting the word out in the village, asking if anyone has got suitable items to help me put the studio shack back together.
“I’m going to need building materials, timber, roofing felt and marine ply, anything which might help repair the damaged areas of the structure.”
Grant Dejonge’s South Downs landscapes can be seen in galleries and heritage centres across the South East.
Anyone who thinks they might be able to help can call Grant on 07495 099708.