Giclée printing has been the key to two parts of the Exhibition, both the Oxford Let Down collection of watercolours and the collection of images from my sketchbooks generally made when I am away from home. I usually start all the above with light pencil sketching and then proceed with the water colour. However in my sketchbooks, I sometimes omit any pencil work and start directly with watercolour. The printing process uses twelve colours which helps to explain the outstanding quality of the results obtained. Some of my sketchbooks will be on display during Artweeks but they are not available for sale.
The prints in the Oxford Let Down collection have an image size which is approximately A3, (297 x 420mm), whereas for the sketchbook prints, a few are approximately A4, (210 x 297mm), but the majority are A5, (148 x 210mm).
The Flipbook which is part of my portfolio shows selected images of the table sculptures. These are made to varying dimensions, the tallest being approximately 380mm high and the lowest one about 140mm high. The sculptures are all made from 10mm white acrylic sheet with each individual component being laser-cut by machine. These are then assembled with acrylic adhesive which melds the surfaces together. One of the sculptures is available in reinforced concrete and given notice, others could be made to a larger scale in concrete or possibly other flat materials. Directional lighting brings the sculptures to life and the tonal contrasts thereby generated emphasise their architectural qualities.
Oxford Let Down is the title of a little book that I have written explaining the reasons for my views about the buildings featured. All twelve buildings are illustrated in the book and it will be available for sale during the exhibition.
Please enjoy all the prints and sculptures. Working on them has been fulfilling and rewarding!
Some opportunities arise only rarely! Cheated by the pandemic of a significant birthday celebration I thought what better than to join Artweeks and stage an exhibition instead. After all, my sketchbooks go back fifty years and provide the basis for a collection of limited edition Giclée prints. The lockdowns that we endured provided ample scope for completing a collection of table sculptures in acrylic and also a collection of watercolours of Oxford buildings which many of us are agreed have done no credit to the architectural heritage of our city, at all.
When away from home, I invariably carry with me a small sketchbook, pencil and tiny watercolour box together with a very flat Gordon’s gin miniature bottle, to hold the water. I always find it exciting to view a new subject which I could not have known anything about at breakfast time, to stop there and then, and to record it, usually in colour but sometimes, if time is short, just in pencil. I add a title and date and sometimes, the time the sketch took to complete. For me, the surge of delight that I get on viewing the work of other artists is echoed by the feeling of fulfilment that I experience on completing my own images; for our artworks are unique and an extension of our personalities. That’s why our house is full of artworks by friends and family. Their pictures are with us even if they are not!
My watercolour sketches had always remained hidden in my sketchbooks until my eyes were opened by one of my daughters, Hetty, who is a professional artist. She explained how very high quality images, (Giclée prints), could be produced by a new breed of digital machine using twelve colours, at the same time allowing the size of the image to be increased. The quality of these prints being on a par with artists’ prints made by more traditional methods, it is quite accepted to class them as signed, limited edition artworks.
Much of my professional life has been spent designing products and environments for business and domestic interiors and the resulting fluency in technical drawing was essential in developing a collection of eight table sculptures made from white acrylic. The project started owing to the perceived need to hide a drain cover in the garden, by placing a sculpture on top of it! Having generated a simple sculpture for this, cast in reinforced concrete with the help of a family member experienced in such matters, I then decided to produce a collection of eight table sculptures, smaller in size and made from white acrylic. They are perhaps somewhat architectural in inspiration, which is not surprising given my delight in high quality building design in all its forms. I particularly enjoy the strong tonal contrasts in the sculptures that are generated under directional lighting.
I am not the only Oxford citizen who has grave reservations about some of the buildings that we have allowed to be built in our city in decades since the second world war. I felt strongly enough about this to select twelve buildings that seemed to me to have done the City no credit at all, with a handful of them being complete outrages. Thinking to spend some of my time in painting to some purpose, I selected twelve notable examples and painted them so that my feelings were placed on record. But just doing this did not seem sufficient, so I have also written a little book, explaining the reasons for my views, with comments by Martin Lipson, a friend and keen and experienced observer of Cityscapes. This will be available during Artweeks, for those interested.
Various creative activities apart from painting and sculpture have kept me busy since retirement and continue to do so. My wife and I built an eco house just to the North of Summertown, to much higher standards than were required by building regulations and for which, in 2012, we won the David Steel Sustainable Buildings Award from Oxford City Council. For some years I have also been active in designing and importing rugs from Nepal, working with my daughter, Hetty. For lighter relief, some of my evening time is spent playing in the Studio Orchestra and singing with Woodstock Music Society and, being a founder member of an active walking group completes a portfolio of rewarding activities for which I count myself extraordinarily lucky.