Born in Vancouver, Rob studied architecture in Oxford and subsequently worked in London, Los Angeles and the Cotswolds. Since 1992, he has shown his work in major institutions in London and Bristol and in galleries and museums in England, France, Italy and Morocco exhibiting watercolours, drawings, etchings, oils and, more recently, acrylics.
‘I’ve spent most my time painting elsewhere so, after living in Overbury since 1998 and walked the hill almost daily, I have only recently seen the potential for paintings of the places I know best which is very exciting, and odd, I know.'
We hear a bit more from Rob about his journey to this point and where he is currently finding inspiration.
I came to live in Overbury purely by chance. We had lived in Chipping Campden where I studied silversmithing and metal work at the Guild of Handicraft (which I have recently rejoined). My parents, (Alexandra & John Churchill) who already lived in Overbury asked us for Sunday lunch after we had sold our house there, and had just had an offer fall through on another property. My parents persuaded us to have a look at Court Lodge which had recently become available…and the rest is history.
My mother is a painter too and although our practices are different, indirectly she and my father have had an influence on me culturally, I suppose, and are responsible for bringing our attention to a very beautiful part of the world. We certainly didn’t intend to stay so long but having done so it is hard to imagine leaving for pastures new.
The main theme of my painting practice over the past several years has been to paint directly in the landscape or en plein air. In doing so, one is immersed in the colours, shapes, lines and form that the given light articulates. I begin at a point in time and continue, at speed, to capture a vision on canvas or paper. But over the duration of a painting lasting 1.5 to 3 hours, the light changes! So I’ve come to consider my paintings as records of ‘being there’ over a specific period of time.
Sometimes the light fails or the weather conspires to stop play. In these situations, I return to base to consider what was achieved and how I might complete a piece of work. In turn, this might require revisiting the site, in which case another painting may emerge depending on the light and the weather. If this is impossible, then I resort to memory which is sometimes aided by photographs taken at the time. However, photographs are a trap to be avoided because they are too facile and only capture the surface, to my mind.
Even when I leave a site with my gear and painting in hand, I am never really satisfied at the result - the record of my performance. Only when I retreat from the site, away from the comparison to nature, can I see if I have a painting that has the energy, or life, I seek in my practice as an artist.
After a successful exhibition toward the end of 2020, I have been engaged in replacing those works sold - a good problem to have! With the advent of Spring (2021), I set about finding landscapes to paint on Bredon Hill.
As the season changed to Summer, I found further subject matter that inspired in and around Broadway.
In August, I finally managed to get to Spain which had been twice postposed due to travel restrictions. I spent a week exploring Rioja with its mountainous backdrops and patchwork of vineyards and, of course, enjoyed a glass of wine or two.
September took me to St. Emilion (France) and the surrounding countryside. The weather was mixed so I didn’t get much done: torrential rain, broken skies and some brilliant sunshine. The grapes were a week from being picked so the vines were laden and had taken on autumn colours. It was very different to Rioja and inspiring in a different way.
In October I will return to North Cornwall’s rugged coast and moorland near Zennor where I usually find inspiration.
I will exhibiting my recent work at St. Faith’s Church in Overbury: November 19 - 21(Friday - Sunday) 10am - 4pm, and hope that you might drop by to view my 2021 harvest of paintings. All works will be available for purchase should you feel the urge.