These are paintings to stop and linger over – stylishly framed and hung in a large, beautifully lit Music Room. My family are musicians and the grand piano and instruments in front of the bay window appear in some of my paintings - often a fusion of still-life and interior. The decorative Rajasthani cupboards and vintage curtains signal a fascination with patterns from many periods and cultures which slip into nearly all the work.
Artefacts from and memories of travel to Italy, China and Morocco have encouraged me to build large assemblages in my studio indulging my love of the exotic. These provide the starting point for many of the still-life paintings on display which are done from direct observation.
My aim is to provide an immersive experience through the interaction of exuberant colour harmonies, sensuous shapes and dancing patterns; all carefully balanced in bold compositions. The surfaces and textures of the arrangements are brought alive by a painterly handling, stylistically somewhere between Impressionist and Post Impressionist.
The paintings in the main display area are oil on canvas and gouache but the artist’s pretty faux Victorian brick studio at the end of the garden is also open. Hanging here are watercolours done on my travels abroad alongside paintings and drawings from life room at the Ruskin where I teach. The works range in size from statement “over the fireplace” pieces to smaller pictures for intimate corners.
I have been exhibiting in Oxfordshire for several decades and participating in Artweeks since 2007. Although I show regularly in commercial galleries, I still relish the chance to curate an exhibition in my own home. It is a delight to be on the spot, welcoming and chatting to people everyday….and actually meeting the individuals who purchase work - rarely the case in other selling situations. I invest so much of myself in my paintings, it is always a bonus to have some idea where they are going.
Pictures of mine - some sold during Artweeks - are in France, the US, Hong Kong and Sweden. Having the long view at this stage of my career is rather nice as some of my older works have now been passed down through three generations of a family. One such was sold in London in 1984 and ended up in New Orleans! The family tracked me down to ask if the very large canvas could be taken off the stretcher and rolled up to be flown back to the UK more cheaply – (the answer was “yes”). It is satisfying to feel one has made something that will last and continues to be valued.
An unexpected Covid-related perk has been regularly seeing one of my canvases, painted fifteen years ago, on the BBC news! Whenever they interview their favourite public health expert, the picture she commissioned from me is just behind her head. So many people have recognised it and got in touch.
At the end of the 1970s, when I was an art student, the 'craft' side of painting was being side-lined and exacting observational skills were less highly prized. It was quite daunting to be told by fiery young tutors who came up from London that "Painting is Dead" in my first term at the Ruskin! However, they didn't persuade me to make 3 x 3m canvases and use a house painting brush and I found some older staff who did teach me about colour, drawing, anatomy and oil technique.
Fortunately, at that time, the RA Schools, where I spent 3 years in London as a Post Grad, was still the place to develop one's practice as the more traditional figurative painter I wanted to be. And, all these years later, still, very happily, am.