Artwork of the Month - April 2006
Flowers in Herm, 1936
Artist: Edward Rowe (b. 1926)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Status: Loaned by the Artist
Item No.: -
The Influence of the Amateur Artist
Since the founding of the Royal Academy of Art in 1768, there has been a clear distinction between amateur and professional artists in Britain. It was not until the early years of the twentieth Century that European artists started to recognize the unique nature and skill of a number of amateur painters' work, such as the French toll-collector Henri Rousseau (1844-1910).
What appealed to artists in the early 20th Century were not amateurs who emulated 'Academic' painting, but those who followed their own vision of the world and who were not influenced by art galleries, dealers and patrons. At its best, amateur art is honest, original and carried out for the pleasure of painting alone
Edward Rowe (b. 1926)
Ted Rowe's interest in painting started while attending St Sampson's School when he was only 12. His art teacher encouraged him further, and when the other children were out in the playground, Ted would prefer to be inside drawing and painting.
When he was 14, thoughts of painting soon disappeared when the Island became occupied by the Germans on May 30th 1940. Even after the 'peace' was called, Ted was busy, as were other Islanders, trying to regain some sort of normality, so his artistic interests were again put on hold.
It was not until the 60s that Ted decided to take up painting as a hobby and painted what appealed to him, such as the Old American West and had sympathy with the 'Redman'. Ted quotes a Native American Chief;
"To the Redman the air is precious, for all things are the same breath - the animals, the trees, the man."
This awareness of nature, which Ted admires in the Native American, is clearly seen in his own painting. The entire canvas is filled with lush dense undergrowth, which envelops all the air and space in the painting. The shapes and colours of these natural forms are celebrated for their own sake. Although Ted was not aware of the work of Henri Rousseau when he completed this painting, it is striking how similar their approaches to painting nature are to each other. They both depict nature in bold stylized shapes, simplifying it into a wonderful coherent design.