Petworth House is playing host to an exhibition of work by Richard Allen, winner of 2016 Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year Competition.
The show features work created on his Sky Arts journey.
Taking centre stage in the exhibition is Richard’s £10,000 commission for the National Trust inspired by Petworth Park. The pair of pictures demonstrate a commitment to the power of ‘straight’ landscape painting, directly echoing JMW Turner’s iconic Dewy Morning, painted at Petworth in 1810. The companion piece offers a more contemporary expression, painted as a postcard.
“I won back in September,” Richard says, “but the final show didn’t go out until December. It was about March that I speculatively put an entry in.
“I just put myself forward for it. I was just accumulating pictures in my studio. There was a Portrait Artist of the Year competition, but I missed the deadline for that, so I put in for the landscape even though landscape is not my main focus.
“There were something like seven heats. They have pods, shed-type things that they set up with the seven selected artists on the day, focusing out on a vista at a National Trust property.
“And then you have the challenge. It is like a painting Bake-Off! I won my heat, and you progress through to the next round. The whole thing went down to three and then it was the final.”
Richard confesses the idea of a painting competition is “a little bit vulgar”: “But I am all for it, having won it! But it is certainly counter to my notions. I have only ever measured myself against my own standards. I am a little bit ambivalent about competitions, but having won it, I am all for it!”
And now his work is in focus at Petworth.
“Having become truly smitten with Petworth, it is a genuine honour for the first large-scale exhibition of my paintings to take place here.
“The series of paintings that I have produced of Petworth marks a new passage in my artistic practice. I have moved from domestic interiors, still life and portraiture (and landscape refracted through postcards) towards something monumental in scale and ambition.”
Also included in the exhibition is a selection of work from Richard’s portfolio as well as his initial submission to the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2016 competition – a large-scale still life of postcards made from photographs taken of the Dorset landscape. The submission acts as a symmetrical piece that Richard paid tribute to in his final commission.
Richard studied fine art as an undergraduate at Central Saint Martin’s College in London, specialising in painting before gaining a masters in communications design (illustration). Over the past four years Richard has returned to his first love of oil painting.
Petworth has long been associated with acclaimed artists including Van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake, shaped by a family of collectors and patrons over the past 800 years. The ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped Pleasure Grounds and parkland, a masterpiece within its own right, also served as inspiration to landscape painter JMW Turner.
Richard said: “It is a daunting task setting my work alongside the painting luminaries whose work fills Petworth House.
“However, in studying Turner’s responses to the location and in my time spent filming at the Courtauld Institute, I am heartened rather than daunted by the weight of art history and embrace the challenge of conveying both the timelessness and shifting qualities of landscape in paint.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to do that than at Petworth.”
Running until May 21.
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