John Knapp-Fisher - Watercolour makes over £11,000 at auction today ! Should we all be buying his work?

John Knapp-Fisher is a great artist who spent time painting in both Suffolk and then in rural Pembrokeshire . He is a favourite of ours here at Blondes Fine Art and I am often asked by clients and friends my views on buying his particular work as an investment.

This morning I have watched a watercolour sell for over £11,000 at Brightwells auction room and wonder how much further have his prices to go. With an auctioneers estimate of 500-1000 clearly the seller and the auction house will be very happy.

John Knapp-Fisher watercolour £11,000 at auction

John Knapp-Fisher watercolour £11,000 at auction

So why do people keep paying higher amounts and see his work as being inflation proof? Before I start to answer this question I should say that my immediate response to these quires is preempted by my view on art in general . That it is an emotional purchase and the fact that owing art that resonates with you personally, is far more important than its value or potential investment. But for one moment let us look at the work of John Knapp-Fisher.

Last month I was asked this very question by a client who was considering a purchase. He is from Wales and was looking at Knapp-Fisher's work as he has links to Pembroke. He has children and wanted to buy something that was relevant to them all but would increase in value. He asked me to set out my views which I did.

Knapp-Fisher has a strong following and there are a number of privte collctors of his work, particularly in Wales and the value of his work has continued to rise over the last 5 years or so. John sadly died in 2015 and since then the prices of his work at auction , particularly Rogers & Jones in Cardiff, have taken another leap upwards. In fact last year an oil sold for £20,000 including premiums so there are some very wealthy welsh collectors determined to get their hands on his work and happy to pay whatever is needed. So there is a market for his work and although John painted a large number of work there is a greater demand than there is supply. So simple economics come into force and the price has been driven upwards.

Clearly, there are other factors such as condition, the medium in which painted and subject that have an impact on price but in general terms the prices continue to increase. So will this continue ? Who knows , it was not long ago that you could buy an early Porsche for about £10,000 and they are now in the region of £500,000 so who knows where or when any market will stop!

So what is my advice? Very simply to buy what you like and what makes you feel good. Art is much more that the price tag. If you like it and can afford it buy it.

But actually I do rate the work of John Knapp-Fisher and do think it will continue to be collected by an ever increasing group of knowledgeable individuals and good work will continue to command higher prices. Look at todays auction price for that watercolour which when bought direct from John in his gallery at the turn of the century can not have been more than a few hundred pounds. Perhaps the next work of a similar quality will possibly exceed the price made today who knows I will have to dust of my crystal ball and see what the future holds!

The client who asked my views did buy a watercolour from us and must be very happy to see that the market is as bouyant as it is for the work of John Knapp-Fisher and that he paid only 10% of the price of the work sold today.

Perhaps the way forward is to buy from a gallery as they seem to offer better value than the auction rooms for the work of John Knapp -Fisher. Just a thought and of course I would say this.

Happy investing!

Harry Becker - Wanted

Harry Becker is an artist who is of particular interest to us here at Blondes Fine Art.

Did your father or grandfather know Harry Becker ?
Are you related to the brothers that played in Beckers home and allowed by Georgina to choose paintings after his death?
Did you move to remote Scotland and now looking to sell your collection?

If you have inherited work by Harry Becker, other Bushey School of Art artists,  or have been told that an unsigned work is by this artist and are a little unsure, then please do contact us and we will help where ever possible.

He was a fine artist and we are genuinely enthusiastic about acquiring new work for the gallery. We will pay the best price we possibly can and have a very up to date feel of the current market in his original work. We - Melanie and I - work from our private "stable yard gallery" in Hertfordshire close to the Henry Moore House & Garden , where Melanie also works. We offer a friendly , professional and  honest service that you can trust. 

Harry Becker originals are Wanted right now so contact us and we will help you realise the best price.

Mark Ponting
Blondes Fine Art

Info@blondesfineart.com

mobile number 07519639386

 

 

 

Merlyn Evans - 1960's abstract paintings

Merlyn Evans wrote in the introduction to his exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery in March 1968 .....

' By temperament and preference, I have been from the early age of seventeen an abstract painter'

He was precociously gifted as a student at the Glasgow School of Art and then Royal College of Art in London and exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy on 1930 and 31. He was influenced by Surrealism in the 1930's and also Mondrian . Evans temperament combined passion and philosophical speculation and argument, and he was well read in psychology, philosophy, politics and the history and techniques of art. He was also profoundly affected by Modernist literature and poetry, a lover of music and player of jazz piano and trumpet. He married the concert pianist Marjorie Few in 1950 I think it is interesting that his abstract work seems to have started in the late 1950's with a series of work entitled The Orchestra. These derived from studies made from the box at the Festival Hall and were an attempt to depict the ensemble of the orchestra as a crowd.

The theme of crowd and its complex form and process continued to fascinate Merlyn Evans and drove him to produce the vast Waterloo Station Series in 1963.

His final work consisted of four tall sections of nine feet by four but what we have here at Blondes Fine Art in Hertfordshire are two of the studies that he painted at the station over a period of years. These recorded, what he termed 'direct from nature'. The final work was too big to be hung in the gallery rooms of Tunnard and Roberts  where Evans exhibited in October 1963, and was displayed instead in the studio, a disused church in Fleet Road, Hampstead, which was also large enough to house his huge presses. ( see image below of Evans in front of the huge panels )

Merlyn Evans had after returning from the war, learnt etching and aquatint and became a master intaglio printmaker and he is still considered to be one of the Modern British 'greats' in this particular field.

Merlyn Evans

The sequence of panels in the Waterloo Series is also interesting as it suggests a musical process of complication to simplicity, with overlapping transitions from the figurative to the geometric. Panels one and three where described by Evans as 'figurative with a controlled degree of representation. Everything is on the move. ' In panel one the crowd is clearly seen as a collection of individuals, massing at rush hour into spaces between the booths and advertising hoardings. In panel three there is more of a merging into one mass. Panel two gives a cinematic  shot of the stations static properties with the crowd in the foreground while the transition to abstraction is complete in the final panel which shows the station reduced to purely geometric forms. It seems that Evans wanted to articulate the disconcerting vision of the modern city of London with its human masses in contrast to the stark modern architecture.

 The pair of works available here are for panels three and four and come from the personal collection of the great British composer Malcolm Arnold. His work is hard to find and rarely available other than in a few St James, London galleries so please do contact us to arrange a viewing or for more information about these works.

 

 

 

 

 

Walter Hoyle - Great Bardfield Artist - Etchings for sale

Walter Hoyle was greatly influenced by his friend Edward Bawden and , together with Sheila Robinson , they are my favourite Bardfield printmakers. Indeed both worked very closely with Bawden on a number of projects both in the UK and abroad. Walter Hoyle worked together with Bawden and Robinson on the mural for the RCA's Lion and Unicorn Pavilion at the 1951 Festival of Britain on the South Bank in London and upon its completion he holidayed with Bawden in Sicily where they both painted daily.

It was shortly after their return from this trip that Walter Hoyle moved to Great Bardfield. In the early 1960s he really concentrated on printmaking. He was teaching at Cambridge School of Art , set up a print studio and launched 'Cambridge Print Edition' to produce limited editions of artists' prints. It was at this point that he produced a series of prints depicting Cambridge Colleges that was published by Editions Alecto. The Cambridge Colleges were 10 Linocuts made in 1965-6 and were sold in a portfolio box set. These were shown in an exhibition 'Zodiac Paintings and Cambridge Prints ' at Savage Gallery , London 1966. 

A short time later Hoyle made a series of prints based on his paintings on the zodiac and were produced by Editions Alectro as the  ' Planet Series' . These seem to have disappeared over the decades and rarely now come to the market for some reason. They were complicated works and he experimented with paper, techniques and inks producing for cutting edge material.

' Bright Star ' 1969

' Bright Star ' 1969

There is no doubt that the years spent in Great Bardfield were an important part of Walter Hoyles life . Moving to Essex and Cambridgeshire allowed him to raise a family and to develop as an artist while mixing with other like minded individuals. Unlike some of the other artists in Bardfield his work developed greatly over the years, creating new images that challenged his previous work. As a result I think his work is more varied than others but perhaps less distinctive and recognisable than other Bardfield artists. Having said this it also makes his work more interesting and individual, as he adapted his practise in response to where ever he was at the time . We here at Blondes Fine Art currently have two lovely Etchings available for purchase.

He married Denise Hoyle who was of French birth and spent the later part of his life living between Hastings and Dieppe until he died in 2000.

John Bratby - Sunflower oil painting - Wanted

John Bratby is one of our most well known artists who was one of the group of famous  'Kitchen sink' artists.

He is particularly known for his large vibrant images of yellow sunflowers from the 1960's /70s and we are currently looking to buy a work in good condition with good provenance. the cash is waiting for the right work so please do contact us if you are looking to sell. 

Bratby’s fame was, in his time, the equivalent of Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin. Everyone knew who John Bratby was. A supercharged realist-cum-expressionist, Bratby piled up the paint in mounds of impasto that threatened to topple off his pictures. Bratby epitomised the mid-Fifties British rebellion against pretension and the class system.

In the Sixties he produced intense, psychedelic portraits of international stars such as Paul McCartney and David Frost, wrote existentialist novels and painted a notorious mural of the crucifixion with his own flabby torso on the cross.In the Seventies he turned to the Right, politically, was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts and then tried, unsuccessfully, to paint the portrait of Idi Amin. He also completed perhaps the worst-ever group painting of the Royal Family purely for publicity .

There had been no one like John Bratby, but after his death only Charles Saatchi remained a champion of his. 

All this said we here at Blondes Fine Art are looking to purchase . Contact us now on 07519639386



 

Barbara Rae - painting for sale

Barbara Rae was educated at Edinburgh College of Art and has always been influenced by her surroundings. A scholarship in 1966 allowing her to explore Europe was the beginning of many travels which went on to include Ireland, Spain, Arizona and South Africa. Rae is not a landscape painter put more concerned with the human traces and intervention that make the landscape so unique. Her work is strong and borders on abstraction but the use of colour makes it live and jump off the page.

Certainly, if you look back over her work there are themes that recur such as doorways , windows looking out to fences and dilapidated buildings. It is here that we can see some synergy with John Piper, who was one of her college period heroes.

Barbara Rae painted in South Africa during 1996 - the same year that she was elected a member of the Royal Academy - and then again the following year. She first visited in November and December staying on the coast near False Bay with views to Cape point and Cape Town. She then went to the West coast the following year staying in the semi desert area of Karoo with its flat topped mountains. This spectacular scenery is an area that was also captured by John Knapp-Fisher some 30 years previous. (See image below right)

 

Work from this period by Barbara Rae was exhibited at the Art First gallery in London in 1997 and the work we have available here at Blondes Fine Art dates from that show , depicts Karoo Landscape and has the Art First gallery label verso. It is a wonderful example of Barbara Rae's work and represents great value. 

Please do contact us for more details.

Mark Hearld - Collage and Ceramics For Sale

Mark Hearld is, as any of you who follow our blog pages will already know, an artist of immense talent and someone who features in our own personal art collection.  He loves to create and has over the years been equally as happy making marks in oil paint, lino, print, collage, wood, and ceramics. We are delighted to have some of his very recent ceramic work available to buy and think that they offer remarkable value while they are sure to become collectors items of the future.

Mark Hearld's first ceramics were decorated blanks in a ceramic cafe where he decorated  bisqueware which then went for its final firing in much the same way that the great painters from the potteries worked in the 20th century. He went on to explore the use of scraffiti and slip trailing before collaborating with the great master potter , Terry Shone in Whitby.

Mark Hearld Ceramic Horse

Mark Hearld Ceramic Horse

In more recent times Mark Hearld has worked with a low volume pottery producer in Stoke on Trent . This came about when he was initially away in Berlin for a few days with Emily Sutton and they came across an old wooden horse that had wheels on its base and had been a child's toy. It was for sale in a flea market so , being the great collectors that they are, it was purchased and came home to York and then onto the potteries to be the model for a mould. The rest is history as Mark has now produced a small number of his ceramic horses in a hand full of batches each individually decorated by him and are of such great proportion that they make a feature and talking point in whichever room they are located. We here at Blondes Fine Art love the simplicity of form and nobleness of stance which when combined with Mark's decorative verve makes them a must have item.

The most recent output by Mark, in Stoke on Trent, are a new series of slipware platters which have been hand produced in small numbers and have designs inspired by his recent visit to the USA with birds such as the Blue Jay featuring strongly. Mark Hearld will continue to produce great work in all mediums and we very much look forward to seeing his latest output, a ceramic cockerel, which is still in the design stage. But for now we are delighted to be able to offer a selection of ceramic and other work by Mark Hearld and if you check out his artist page here at Blondes Fine Art you will find a few gems still available to purchase. Don't miss out !

Peter Biegel - Sporting Art

Peter Biegel is one of finest equine artists and Blondes Fine Art are delighted to have acquired two fabulous oil paintings dating from the 1960's. 
The smallest work is an oil sketch on board and has a real period quality about it and a very American feel due to the denim clothes worn by the lad. It has its original gallery label attached verso and details of its later sale in the 1990's to raise funds for the injured jockey fund. It is  really nice piece that would fit well into any equine lovers home.

Peter Biegel and his wife Dora were actually regular visitors to the United States and would go for a month every year to paint. They first went out in the 1960's to paint for Barry Ryan at Normandy Farm, Kentucky . Their host was an equine art lover and had works by Herring , Munnings and many others but was quoted in a magazine, Thoroughbred of California ,  as saying that Peter Biegel was' the best painter of the horse today'. Biegels work is still much admired in the U.S.A. and a draw for many a collector.
It is also fitting that these works that we currently have available were both  later sold for the benefit of the Injured Jockey Fund. Many charities benefited from Peter Biegel's generosity but it was the Injured Jockey fund that benefited to the tune of one hundred thousand pounds on a number of occasions from the sales of reproduced images in the form of Christmas cards. 

Please do view our new Sporting Art pages and contact us is there is anything that you are particularly looking for.

Gwilym Prichard - Welsh artist of painterly form

Gwilym Prichard  - or Pri(t)chard as he signed his work in his earlier life - is much less well recognised than some of his contemporary Welsh artists from the same post war period.

For me one of the absolute joys of being a Fine Art dealer is that I can indulge my passion for art on a daily basis by sourcing and purchasing the work that I personally enjoy. It matters little to me if a particular artist has been 'over looked' by the mainstream Art community , and indeed I see it as a distinct advantage when looking to find new gems. The early work of Gwilym Prichard is perhaps one such example. He is well known in Wales but much less so elsewhere and I am always interested to hear from private clients who have his work from the 1950s and 1960s and are considering selling. I buy his work because it resonates with me emotionally, it has such vibrancy in texture and palette, yet communicates the bleak Anglesey landscape in a way that is hard to find anywhere else. 

As a child my sister and I would visit Anglesey on a regular basis to see 'Uncle Ivor' and to explore the wildlife of North and South Stack , watch the rock climbers navigate the cliffs and to search for Adders and Bee orchids on the sand dunes. They were , from my recollections, days of extreme weather and I recall being burnt from the sun and drowned by the cold rain on the bleak hills. I had , at that time, no knowledge of anyone called Gwilym Prichard and no knowledge of how he was recording my childhood memories at exactly the same time that I was visiting the places he painted. Penmon Priory was a regular subject of his work and often depicted Puffin Island in the background. Actually the bulk of his work was, for sometime focused in a triangle formed by Pentraeth, Penmon and Beaumaris  and it was while painting in this area that he really matured as an artist.These were also familiar places to me and I guess that is why his work has such a hold on me . But it is not just the subjects that are important but his painterly style and use of thick slabs of palette - knife and sweeping brush stroke to convey the boulders , buildings and beauty of his native land. In fact his colour and block work reminds me of de Stael.

Gwilym Pritchard was born in 1931 and would keep the spelling of his surname with the 't' until the 1980s when finding that his Great Grandfather had been a Prichard - without the 't'. He had a brother Arthur, who was also a talented artist and he married his childhood sweetheart Claudia Williams who is yet another talented Welsh artist. They lived in Anglesey for much of their early life and it was here , and the images of the local landscape, that gave Prichard the notoriety he deserved. He taught at the local secondary school for 11 years and managed to paint in his spare time building up a steady patronage.

He built up strong ties with leading galleries and was a regular exhibitor from the late 1950's with Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales , Bangor Art Festival and notably with Howard Roberts Gallery, Cardiff for a decade between 1958 - 1969.

 In 1956, when private galleries were rare outside London, Howard Roberts established his gallery in the Welsh capital. Roberts  was born in Cardiff attended Cardiff College of Art, and taught art at Tiverton High School before returning to the Principality and opening what was to become Wales' most successful commercial gallery. It concentrated mainly as one would expect, on Welsh art but also showed many British artists who included Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Graham Sutherland, Prunella Clough,  and Bridget Riley. Welsh artists exhibited included Augustus John, Morland Lewis and Alfred Jones. The gallery was also a considerable force in developing the careers of Kyffin Williams, John Elwyn, Ernest Zobole and Will Roberts amongst many.

However, by 1970, expenditure on new premises, competition from other galleries and rising rents forced the gallery's closure. The work shown above dates from the early 1960s and has a Howard Roberts Gallery label fixed verso. Enquires about this work are welcomed so do not hesitate to contact us here at Blondes Fine Art.

 

Elizabeth Blackadder flower paintings in oil

Elizabeth Blackadder has had a love of flowers since her childhood but they did not appear significantly in her work until the mid 1970's, when she moved to Fountain Hall Road , which had a large garden . Prior to that period she was however, experimenting in her style and mediums and flowers were a topic that seems to recur.

In 1963 John and Elizabeth moved from their flat into a house in Queens Crescent, on the South side of Edinburgh. They then had for the first time, a small garden which gave her access to a constant supply of flowers and it is in that period that we begin to see them feature in her work. In 1966 she produced a large pen and ink drawing of Lilies which is depicted on page 51 of Duncan Macmillan's book about Elizabeth Blackadder, which has some similarities to the work we, here at Blondes Fine Art, have recently acquired. The work shown below is signed but undated depicts a still life of Lillies in a vase and is I believe from the same mid 1960's period. Interestingly the period, gold, glazed, box frame appears to have been 'borrowed from her husband as it bears his name and the title of one of his works to the back.

During the early 1960's Blackadder lived near Anne Redpath and it was she that helped Blackadder to see the possibilities of still life and as a result she began to experiment in a way that shows a direct link to those still-life flowers of Redpath's. It is also clear that Elizabeth was concentrating on still life in oil and produced a body of work that have a very similar palette to the work shown above. Two such examples are 'Summer' an oil from 1963 and 'Still-Life with Grey Tabletop' an oil from 1965 both of which use the same loose style in greys and yellows. During this period she experimented with approaches and appears to be looking to find a new way of working and her own distinct artistic voice. She did , as we are all well aware, hone her skills in the painting of flowers later in her career but this work offered here , 'Still-life Lilies' in oil, circa 1965 is one of the first serious paintings of this subject matter.

Early oils of flowers by Elizabeth Blackadder are a rare find and this one is delicately painted and of a size that will fit into any home . please contact us if you would like further details or arrange to view the work

 

Fred Cuming RA 'Visual Intelligence' - Painting for sale

Fred Cuming and his use of light and colour have always attracted me to his work and I am extremely happy to have recently acquired a wonderful still life oil on board depicting a vase of flowers. Indeed, the last time I was at Bonhams for a sale, I watched two similar works sell for very good prices and have been searching for some time for the right work to come my way.

One of my occupational hazards is trying to read about three art books at once and at the moment I can recommend two. The first is 'The Visitors Book' which is so visual that I almost feel I was there with Francis Bacon, John Minton, The Roberts, and the rest of the Fitzrovia 'gang' in the drunken post war period of the 1950s. The book is about the lives of Richard Chopping and Denis Wirth-Miller and if you have not heard of them it is a must read book. I know I am digressing and need to focus on Fred Cuming but this is the other book that I am currently consuming. 'Another figure in the landscape' is also a must read if you, like me, love the work of Fred Cuming. He tells us all about his working and influences which I will not rehash here but is a collectors study staple.

So, where is the link between the two , I hear you ask? Well its something I have just read in Fed Cuming's book and its 'Visual Intelligence', which is a phrase I have not heard before. I am a great believer in Emotional Intelligence and much has been written on the benefits of such over IQ for example.  He talks about some people having visual acumen far ahead of their fellows, who are open-minded about what they expect to see and do not see art as merely a reproduction process. It is, he says , people with a willingness to become fascinated by the mechanics of just 'seeing' such as film makers and theatre directors, lateral thinkers, people with a commanding, even obsessive, drive and focus.

This made me reflect on Francis Bacon whose work was initially heavily criticised but he continued with his work despite these adverse reviews and also of Wirth-Miller who against the odds became a great , if not under recognised, painter of abstract landscapes. Both men where self taught with little formal training yet their Visual Intelligence was so strong that they succeeded in making a career in art . I think Fred Cuming is correct in his views and some people are just more open to visual stimuli and see and translate emotion in colour and light. Certainly, Cuming is one of these people,  his use of colour and light is quite wonderful and he is rightly considered to be the greatest living landscape painter of our time. But, it is not just landscapes where these skills are to be seen and in his conclusion to the book  says the following which illustrates this well.

" From my studio shed I see everything transformed by the angle of the light in autumn evenings, a magical half-hour of brilliant gold light against shadows and darker areas. The jam-jar on my window-sill holding dead flowers, thistles and teasels is transmuted into gold, a treasure from the tomb of Tutankhamen. And then as the light fades  different shades appear, gold turning to beautiful mauves and browns, dramatic contrasts reduced to subtle harmonies, the explosive sound of a huge orchestra dwindling to a gentle sonata of greys , mauves and pinks'

Now I know why the work of Fred Cuming resonates with me so much, its his Visual Intelligence.

The work shown above is currently for sale.

Julian Trevelyan Prints -Etchings, Aquatints & Lithographs

Julian Trevelyan has left us with some wonderful images that track his life, loves and passions, the earliest days of which can be traced back to his days at Trinity College , Cambridge in the 1930's. He was at this time, interested in Surrealism and eventually, in 1931, gave up the academic life and travelled to Paris where he where he joined S.W. Hayter at Atelier 17 . It was here that he learned his trade as a master printsman. He graduated from line engraving to textures impressed in soft ground etching and aquatint, which became his preferred methodology.

Julian Trevelyan worked at the Royal College of Art  between 1955 and 1963, where he became head of the Etching department and influenced the likes of Ackroyd, Hockney and Kitaj. His own personal style, particularly in the 1970's, developed into one of simplification and outlining which resulted in fresh, spontaneous and bold images with the use of little colour. He printed many of his Etchings himself at his Durham Wharf studio in West London , where he had a Kimber press installed in 1964. 

The image shown below is a fine example of Julian Trevelyans work from the late 1970's. It is titled 'Farndale' and is an Etching and Aquatint from a single steel plate 35 x 48 cm and dates from 1979. The work only uses one colour -black- and was printed by Trevelyan on Mouldmade, Arches 88 paper sheets 57x76 cm. Interestingly, this was to be an edition of 50 with a run of 5 Artists Proofs but only 10 of the edition were ever produced by him in his lifetime, making this a very sought after and hard to find image. Farndale , itself is located in North Yorkshire and is only a few miles from the farm the Trevelyans bought in 1974 called Hill top Farm in Spaunton, North Yorkshire.

Here in Hertfordshire, Blondes Fine Art continue to strive to source those special works from our greatest artists and if you are looking for a particular 'hard to find' work do please contact us and we will endeavour to help you locate it.

At the time of writing this image by Julian Trevelyan has just been reserved.

John Elwyn paintings for sale

We are delighted to have recently acquired some lovely work by John Elwyn. This self exiled Welsh artist is one of our firm favourites and his work has a great collectors following. John Elwyn was greatly admired by his contemporary native artists such as Sir Kyffin Williams RA who said , 'the work of John Elwyn will always stand out and be admired'. he was , of course, correct and he has , in recent years, come out from the shadows and is now rightly regarded as one of the greats.

Titled ' Welsh Farm'

Titled ' Welsh Farm'

John Elwyn trained at the RCA in London and was encouraged to stay in London by his friend and artist Ceri Richards , who put him in touch with various London galleries. By the end of the 1940's he was exhibiting regularly with the Royal Academy and in 1948 he moved to Hampshire where he lived until his death in 1997. His move out of London, was to take up a post at Portsmouth College of Art followed by one at Winchester College of Art . He lived at 5, Compton Road, Winchester ,  a lovely period town Villa and a photograph is shown below.

John Elwyn's home in Wichester

John Elwyn's home in Wichester

By the start of the 1950's his paintings were widely acclaimed , particularly in Wales where his figurative 'Chapel' and 'Miners returning home' paintings were much loved . By the end of the 1950's his figurative work had increasingly given way to pure landscapes which were more often than not depictions of Welsh rural scenes taken from his memories of Cardiganshire. The work we have available here at Blondes Fine Art is an example of such a landscape showing his characteristic geometric and patterned landscapes. All of which are executed in the vibrant colours that he loved to use. Vivid green, yellow and orange sunlit fields, imposing skies, white - washed barns , hedgerows, stone walls and a lane winding away into the distance. These were the recurrent themes in John Elwyn's later work and he painted many variations on the same theme with titles such as Welsh farm, Dyfed Landscape and Upland farm occurring numerous times.

John Elwyn left Winchester Art College in 1976 to become a full time artist and he worked from memory and sketch books. Often, he was not sure what they would look like at the beginning and inspiration might emerge during the painting, from perhaps poetry or the weather conditions. Like so many artist he had a love of gardening and painted plants at different times of the day and in all seasons so it, perhaps , could not be more fitting that it was in his beloved garden when he fell and sustained an injury that caused his passing on 13th November 1997.

During his life time he had multiple exhibitions and his work is held by private and public collections throughout the country. We are always interested in hearing from anyone who is considering selling work by John Elwyn.

Tom Merrifield - Sculptor, Artist and Dancer.

I first became aware of Tom Merrifield in 1990 when I recovered a stolen edition of his sculpture , Marion Tait " Fantasy" which had been stolen by means of Burglary from a North London house. I visited Tom in his Hampstead home where he was able to identify the sculpture and provide the details of the victim of the crime, thus allowing me to reunite it with the lawful owners. He was the most helpful and engaging of men who made time to tell me about his work and career.

I remember his house was full of his work with paintings and sculptures of dancers filling the rooms. He was keen to tell me about each work and I was fascinated by his story. Tom had been a dancer initially in his native Australia and later in shows, films and ballet in London. This made a great deal of sense to me because the bronzes had  a wonderful sense of movement that could only have been understood by someone who had intimate understanding of dance. The other thing I learnt was that Tom had never had any formal training in drawing , panting or sculpture which I found hard to believe looking at his work. He exuded a passion for dance , sculpture, drawing and indeed for his cats which were also a regular feature of his drawings. He also explained how he had been commissioned to produce the Society of West end theatre award which was a lovely bronze of a naked dancer.

 It was a privelede to meet him and when some many years later I had the opportunity to purchase an early bronze from a small edition in the late 1980's I jumped at it. The work we have on offer is " Lisa " 23 cm in height and an edition of 8. The work is actually depicted in the catalouge that Tom gave me when I met him all those years ago. The ballerina herself is none other than Lisa  Macuja-Elizalde who was  Prima Ballerina. In 1984, she became the first Filipina prima ballerina, and first foreign soloist to ever join the Kirov Ballet.

This is just one of a long list of the most famous ballerinas and dancers that have been sculpted by Tom Merrifield because they know that he knows how to ensure the work is accurate. In his early career he danced with the Borovansky Ballet in Australia and when the Biography of Borovanskywas written, some years ago now, Tom merrifield was described thus" His ws the most rarest of all qualities, the dancer's persona, the innate quality that attracts an audiences attention from the moment of entrance" 

 

 

 

Alberto Morrocco and his Mural Paintings

Alberto Morrocco was born into an Italian family who had very much adopted Scotland as their home. His mother was 3 years old when she arrived in Aberdeen and was raised speaking Scottish and, as Alberto recalled,  rarely speaking Italian to his father, who had arrived in Aberdeen in 1912.

One of my very favourite stories to tell any prospective Morrocco buyer is the fact that Alberto Morrocco was not his correct name . His father opened a shop in Aberdeen, an Ice-Creamery, but when he came to Scotland did not speak the language particularly well. So, Mr D MARROCCO, asked a sign writer to make a sign for the shop. Instead of spelling it with an  "A " the sign writer spelt the name incorrectly with an "O" and the rest his history. His father accepted the sign and from then on the family name has been spelt with an "O". Alberto Morrocco had a birth certificate spelt Marrocco but as for the generations thereafter I have no idea. Leon and Jack both spell their names with the "o" but I know not if they ever formally changed the surname. Perhaps you do - I would be interested to know!

It was the mid 1960's when Morrocco's stylistic approach to still-life and his Italian subject matter began to crystallise into his recognisable style. He had become well known and elected a member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1962 and it was this that became the catalyst for him being commissioned to paint a number of murals by Sir Anthony Wheeler. Morrocco trained at the Grays School of Art in Aberdeen under James Cowie and Robert Sivell and it is perhaps the later who influenced his murals. While still a student Morrocco had assisted Robert Sivell on a large mural which is still to be found in the Students Union in Aberdeen. He went on to produce two huge murals in his own right during the mid 1960's. The first was Christ carrying the Cross for St Columba's Church in Glenrothes followed by two large murals for Liff Hospital in Dundee. In these works he was able to consolidate is work with Sivell in Aberdeen and produce his own style in a medium he had always been interested in through his link to Italian Renaissance art.

We are delighted to have two designs for murals for sale from the personal collection of Sir Anthony Wheeler , who was the commissioning Architect. One is by David McClure, a close friend of Morrocco, and was produced for the staff room at St Andrews University and the other is the original design by Alberto Morrocco, for the mural at St Columba's Church (Click Link to see the work) Both are in fantastic original condition and kept by Sir Anthony ,only becoming available when he passed away a few years ago. 

In 1983 Sir Anthony Wheeler became President of the Royal Scottish Academy and, as tradition has it, his portrait was painted at the end of his term of office - in the early 1990's. So who else did he choose for this but none other than, his friend, Alberto Morrocco. He had already painted a portrait of Lord Cameron for the University of Edinburgh in 1972 but the painting of Wheeler is painted more within the style of his still-life work of that 1990 period. His handling of the paint is very similar although the colour not as high in concession to the fact that it was a commission and needed to be recognisable. It was painted from life inside the RSA building under artificial light and what is resulted is a a warm friendly painting which seems to sit between a painting of a family member and a more formal work like that of Lord Cameron. 

Alberto Morrocco painting of Anthony Wheeler