A collection of one meter square Landscape and Garden oil paintings made in 2020 will be shown alongside my current collection of 60 cm square oil paintings of Historic Interiors.
A WINDOW INTO ARTIST PAUL MINTER'S INTERIORS Introduction by Esther Lafferty
England is renowned for its historic houses, interiors resplendent with style and sophistication. It’s an opulence and luxury to admire, and to which we can aspire, to visit as a ticketed guest and to enjoy in the period dramas on our screens.
However, you have a chance to pick up a piece of this splendor during Oxfordshire Artweeks, for the festival, artist Paul Minter is presenting a new series of sumptuous oil paintings of the interiors of stately homes, and as you stop to gaze at his art, you are transported to glittering place to populate with the imagination, empty gilded rooms that would be wonderful backdrops for historical drama. Paul trained in theater design at the Central School of Art and Design, London and worked in Film and TV as a designer for twenty years and it’s clear he has an eye for a striking backdrop!
“The Covid 19 pandemic made it impossible to travel and to visit the places that we love. For me, historic houses have always been a passion and I spend my days off visiting them.” Over the last year, whilst unable to visit them, instead Paul painted the glorious interiors he would have liked to have been able to stroll through in person, capturing their essence rather than copying every detail.
In Paul’s pieces, it is possible to imagine that you are looking at a photograph until you look again closely and see that the paint is all loosely applied and impressionistic: much of the detail is merely implied.
“Art is about memory,” says Paul. “It is a way of capturing a fleeting moment and preserving it, sharing emotions and memories with others. I have discovered, like Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited that I have an aptitude for painting interiors. I try to capture the special atmosphere in these places that I love.”
“Country House interiors inspire me to live life surrounded by beautiful things,” he smiles. When you see these images you see what makes me tick. They are perhaps, like all paintings, actually self-portraits!”
As the viewer tours some of the stately homes of the UK with Paul, the table is set in Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk; ancestral portraits peer down from the walls of Wilton House, Salisbury, and a chandelier sparkles in the Grey Drawing Room at Waddesdon Manor.
“One aspect of historic interiors that interests me as a painter,” explains Paul, “is the use of artificial light. Chandeliers are particularly tricky to paint. Illuminated bulbs or candles emit a warm light that is reflected by cold crystal droplets. The metal structure of the chandelier has a solid geometry that is difficult to understand yet the whole thing has an ethereal quality.”
The Waddesdon Manor Dining Room is a synthesis of eighteenth-century elements combined with late nineteenth-century opulence, the epitome of Rothschild style. For many years now it has been presented with the curtains drawn and blazing candles reflected in the mirrors and the polished 2marble walls. Here the floral display created for the visit of Queen Victoria takes center stage. This is probably the most photogenic interior in the house and in all its guises it is absolutely stunning,” he continues.
“Over in Norfolk, The Holkham Hall State Bedroom is another truly magnificent room and I can scarcely think of a bedroom that I like more. The room is hung with dark rich tapestries and insulated from reality. It is a warm and comfortable space that glitters by the golden glow of its many lamps.”
Another painting in Paul’s new collection shows Holkham Hall Library which is still part of a private apartment rather than a state room. Here the fine architecture of William Kent and a great collection of books provides a sumptuous background for comfortable living. Sofas in pools of lamplight surround the fireplace, and looking at the painting, the viewer half expects a drama to unfold as Hercule Poirot steps ‘on set’ and unravels a mystery.
As The Grand Tour continues over in Europe, visitors to his exhibition will also be transported to the Salon de la Paix in Versailles, to the Doge’s palace in Venice and to the Garden Pavilion at the Amalianberg Nymphenberg Palace in Munich, famous for its silvered rococo hall of mirrors which were designed in 1739 by Francois de Cuvillies, the court dwarf and a talented architect.
Last year Paul painted gardens, focusing on those patches where gardens merge into the surrounding landscape. These paintings were also about dusk and early morning sun, just as, this year, Paul’s interiors often have an ‘evening’ flavour, that moment when you settle down, turn on the lamps and light the fire; and in Marie Antoinette’s Boudoir at Fountainbleu, the fire is already glowing: “The room is gold, silver and mother of pearl. Decorated in the classical style of Pompeii and Herculaneum, it was the height of luxury in the eighteenth century. I wanted to capture its shimmering surfaces in paint.” says Paul.
As a whole, the collection is enchanting. Individually, each picture is poised to add a touch of splendor and magic to any contemporary home, a window to – for most of us – another world!
For Artweeks Paul Minter is one of fourteen artists exhibiting at the ancient Peach Croft Farm Barn in North Abingdon (Artweeks venue 176), where art ranging from embroidered wall art to pottery and silver jewellery will be on show.
Paul studied at the Central School of Art and Design, London ( now Central Saint Martins) and graduated with a degree in Theater Design in 1982.
He worked as a designer in film and television for twenty years, gravitating towards costume design as time went by.
He worked for, amongst others, the BBC, the RSC , Scottish Television and on feature films including, Derek Jarman's Caravaggio and Edward II, Sally Potter's Orlando and the Tango Lesson, The Crying Game and most recently on series 5&6 of Downton Abbey.
He also taught theater design at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts and on various degree courses and in adult education.
From 2004 he taught art in schools retiring as head of Art from a well known Prep School in 2021.
Paul now concentrates on his career as a full time painter and artist.
He also teaches very popular oil painting courses for the Marlborough College Summer School.