His work in oils is process driven, additive episodic periods are intesrpersed with reductive sessions. layers of paint having been initially laid down quickly are then slowly removed sometimes in selected areas but more usually in a broadcast manner. In addition to the conventional attributes of colour, form and tone the physical topographical character of the surface of the work is utilized to create the final composition. Very often the original colour of the paint is lost and the texture created is used to hold another colour entirely. The layers of paint are combined by applying huge pressure to the surface and are cut back using mechanical and chemical means. Often the works are completed with a splash of white, a punctuation mark. Then perhaps an acid or alkali wash of the surface to shift the hue before final levelling to achieve a uniform finish. The series can then be 'released into the wild'.
Ian and Penni had lived in the city or thereabouts for 28 years, working in the world of broadcast TV throughout. As he often remarked - "I quite enjoy pedalling up the hard shoulder of the Digital Superhighway"
The couple had discovered what can only be described as a rural idyll, A grade 2* listed cottage built by Sir Edwin Lutyens in North Cornwall situated a mile from the nearest road in one of the darkest locations in England, with a wash house in the front garden to match. This of course became the workshop, previously serving the three cottages it had many of the original fittings, and all of the charm. The wash house is now equipped for painting, printmaking with an etching press which weighs nearly half a tonne plus small-scale metalwork for sculptural pieces.
On The South West Coast Path | North Cornwall
Flood meadows of River Ottery | Penheale Manor in winter
Outbuildings at Penheale | design and build by Sir Edwyn Lutyens 1920
On The South West Coast Path | North Cornwall in winter
Living and working close to Launceston, the ancient county town of Cornwall, the yearly Charles Causley literary festival is impossible to ignore. His poetry speaks of the place. Walking the back lanes of this forgotten corner of Cornwall one sees and hears echoes of his words;
The Seasons in North Cornwall
O Spring has set off her green fuses
Down by the Tamar today,
And careless, like tide-marks, the hedges,
Are bursting with almond and may.
Here lie I waiting for old summer,
A red face and straw-coloured hair has he:
I shall meet him on the road from Marazion
And the Mediterranean Sea.
September has flung a spray of rooks
On the sea-chart of the sky,
The tall shipmasts crack in the forest
And the banners of autumn fly
My room is a bright glass cabin,
All Cornwall thunders at my door,
And the white ships of winter lie
In the sea-roads of the moor.
The 'Iron Bound Coast' became a favourite attraction for Ian, the cliffs and coves south west of Crackington Haven have names which ring in the imagination - 'High Cliff' and 'The Strangles' spring to mind. Just a short distance away is Beeny Cliff, made famous by Thomas Hardy in his poem of the same name;
O the opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea,
And the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free –
The woman whom I loved so, and who loyally loved me...
It took a while for Ian to come to rest in the far south west of England. In the beginning an education at Gateway Technical Grammar School in Leicester (1966-73) laid the foundation for Ian’s work today. The school was one of the first in the country to embrace the full range of applied arts and crafts as well as fine art. Ian enjoyed all of these and thrived in this creative environment which he felt was made for him. The approach to the individual disciplines echoed very much the ethos of the English Arts and Crafts Movement, built around a skills based attitude depending on the application of 'process' in all things.
His Quaker headmaster encouraged a keen interest in all things creative, recognizing that a students range of talents might not be only academic. This led, with the Heads direct support, to a coveted place on a four-year arts course specialising in silversmithing and jewellery at the iconic Sir John Cass School of Art in Whitechapel, London (1973–77). The course was rigorous, hard and uncompromising yet allowed the possibility of diversions into museum drawing under the guidance of Bert Kitchen, life drawing and the use of the fine art facilities.
Whilst at Cass, the Whitechapel Art Gallery nearby provided part-time employment under Nicholas Serota, and introduced Ian to the world of fine art, with exhibitions by Walter Pichler, Gilbert and George, and in particular British Minimalism epitomised by a major retrospective by Bob Law, who lived at Nancledra, St Ives, and was a major influence in the art scene there.
Ian worked first as a Production Manager for Cartier in New Bond Street, reponsible for overseeing customer orders, the relationship with all of the traditional workshops of the West End Trade and for maintaining the gold stock which included all of the historic Cartier collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco works. Also, as a silversmith and goldsmith he successfully created and sold his own work in the 80’s, exhibiting with the Goldsmiths Company and Electrum Gallery.
Later he became involved in the new creative scene of videographics and became instrumental in developing new technology, introducing video graphics to the world of marketing in which he was then engaged. He then formed his own broadcast graphics company and earned credits on over 150 series across the whole span of UK broadcasters. His name became synonymous with the programmes of Rick Stein, for which he designed the title sequences and in-programme graphics for all of the major series over a twelve year period. Ian’s qualifications include a DipAd, City and Guilds Higher Diplomas in diamond mounting and gemology and a design award from the Royal Society of Arts.
Exhibited at the Porthminster Gallery | New Beginnings 2019
Exhibited at the Porthminster Gallery | Renewal 2020
Exhibited at the Porthminster Gallery | Sea Stories 2021
Available for exhibition/sale
Exhibited at the Penwith Gallery | Associates Summer Show 2018
Exhibited at the Porthminster Gallery | Renewal 2020 | Reworked 2021
Soon he was drawn back to working in oils, on gessoed board which provides a robust base for the techniques he uses. Ian creates all his earth coloured paints from raw earth powder pigments acquired in London in the 70’s, a wise use of his college grant at the time. These hand-made paints are then mixed and layered with other oils in varying consistencies. As layers dry, they are partially removed using a variety of methods to work back through the layers – including applying pressure to the surface, effectively pushing the top layers back through the work, visually disrupting the order of the layers of paint.
This process has no fixed duration with many of the pieces emerging from the workshop often after more than a year, as passing stimuli prompt an evolution of the individual series and it's original theme. Works can be inspired by distant memories of time and place or the simple fluidity of a shape quickly drawn in wet sand on a Cornish or Breton beach.
Ian has spent the last few years immersed in paint, in learning more about the nature of oil paint, fitting its properties, idiosyncrasies, and restictions to the images seen in his minds eye. The stimulus for the work is drawn from deep in his creative roots, surprise and delight being found in the possibilities of the ancient medium. The same approach that he adopted in his graphic work of the 30 years he found could be employed with oils. That is, breaking the challenges down into smaller pieces, picking off the elements which appeared more familiar, building and ordering a sort of library held in suspension, allowing for other forces to exert their influence over time. Time proved to be his accomplice. The process of laying down paint then removing parts of it proved satisfying, leaving a series of works alone to partially or completely dry, enabled him to become engaged with other works and when returning to the series it could be dealt with afresh - each process could be conceived and executed with little reference to what had gone before. The principle of "it seemed a good idea at the time" proved to be pivotal to the development of the images. He learnt to trust his response, his instincts. Often when cutting back through many layers of paint his original thoughts and intentions at various stages are revealed. Little is wasted.
It is mid December in North Cornwall. Quiet descends once more, most of the visitors have gone and everyone has been, yet again, told to work from home. Ian's wash house has been rearranged, the oil paints packed away, unfinished paintings wrapped and stored in the barn. The half tonne etching press has been moved out into a better position for work and new materials are in evidence. Clay, plaster of Paris, beeswax, paper, Japanese tissue paper, moulding paste, metals (various), and string are ready.
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