Brian Rice – Paintings and Prints from the Artist’s Archive

Press Release

New One-Person Exhibition: 6 – 27 March 2017, Belgrave St Ives  

Private View 4 March 6 – 8pm

A unique opportunity to view a selection of work from West Country artist Brian Rice’s personal collection

Belgrave St Ives is pleased to announce an exhibition selected from Rice’s extensive archive. Paintings and prints will be shown across both gallery spaces, the first time a solo artist will occupy the whole of the gallery.

The exhibition has been arranged to coincide with the launch of the book:

Brian Rice Paintings 1952 – 2016 (with an essay by Andrew Lambirth). First full catalogue of paintings by major British artist, highly fashionable in the sixties and now critically acclaimed for his later work. Published by Sansom & Co., 2016. ISBN: 978-1-908326-96-6

Brian Rice’s career covers a period of remarkable dedication and innovation as an accomplished painter and printmaker. He was born in 1936 in Yeovil, Somerset and studied at Yeovil School of Art from 1952-56 and then Goldsmiths College, London from 1958-59. Rice’s formative years as an artist were in London during the 1960s where he was very much part of the ‘swinging’ art scene that included David Hockney, Peter Blake, Joe Tilson, Allen Jones and Derek Boshier. During this period, the paintings and prints he produced formed part of the zeitgeist and appeared in fashion shoots, set designs and TV commercials. His work, which achieved national and international publicity and acclaim, quickly found its way into worldwide collections.

24-number-one-1960Number One 1960, Oil and mixed media on board; 91.5 x 121 cms by Brian Rice.

During the mid-1970s a change in Rice’s circumstances led him to leave London to return to his roots in the West Country. He became a farmer in Dorset, while continuing to teach part-time at Brighton College of Art (1972 – 91). Although rarely exhibiting during this period, he continued to work slowly developing a visual language that was part of a dialogue with the past, inspired by marks made by prehistoric man and the archaeology of the Dorset landscape. In 1995 he started exhibiting again with a renewed fervor.

Following Rice’s exhibition of groundbreaking 1960s’ paintings and prints at the Redfern Gallery, London, in 2014, the opportunity to review his earlier work inspired a new series of totally abstract paintings based around Constructivist and Bauhaus principles. This exhibition has developed from a second catalogue raisonné about his work (the first was a catalogue of prints, the second of paintings).

Brian Rice working in his studio 2016. Photograph by Matt Austin.


For further information and images, please contact Richard Blackborow:

Belgrave St Ives, 22 Fore Street, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1HE

tel. 01736 794888

Email contact


Installation: Prints & Drawings 2016


Our annual Prints & Drawings exhibition is now hung, opened, online and HAPPENING! Please enjoy these informal shots of the show, which is presented across all gallery spaces. Including the corners…

Containing some 120 works by Contemporary, Modern British & St Ives Modern artists, the show can be seen in the gallery until 7th January 2017, and can be viewed online here:

WILHELMINA BARNS-GRAHAM – St Andrews and St Ives and Mrs Rogers

Below is a favourite diary entry by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham dated Oct 30th 1945. We have transcribed this with the permsission of the Barns-Graham Charitable Trust in light of the current exhibition we are holding (which ties in with the exhibition at Penlee House, Penzance 10 September – 19 November 2016, titled Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: A Scottish Artist in St Ives and the St Ives September Festival 2016. 

This entry is very relevant to us as the portrait of Mrs Rogers hangs in our exhibition and many in the town have come to see her. It is striking on many levels and the entry below alludes to this.

Mrs Rogers / The Sloop

I am painting in the Sloop. This is a job. The light is poor and time limited. 2.45-4pm. I hope to keep this a decorative composition. On a different colour scheme to my recent paintings using:

Aureole Yellow
Alizarin Crimson
Viridian Green

She is a handsome clear-cut woman with most distinctive hair dressing and a charming attractive personality. Tall and angular. With a sensuous mouth yet almost hard faced. Something of the Duchess of Windsor style. So she had often been told and I can see it.

Mrs Rogers gives me tea after upstairs in a tiny well furnished room obviously the larder. A wonderful orange russet thick carpet and when the light is on it, oh!

barnsgraham_portraitofmrsrodgers_sloopinn_c1945_belgravePortrait of Mrs Rogers – Sloop Inn c1945
75 x 63 cms; Oil on canvas
Provenance: The Barns-Graham Charitable Trust

Janet Axten of St Ives Archive held a talk during the festival where more entries were read. The audience throughly enjoyed this way of looking at the artist and we heard some wonderful stories recounted in the week.

September 13th ST IVES ARTS CLUB, Westcott’s Quay 1 – 2.15pm
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham in her own words 
The Scottish artist who came to St Ives in 1940 was a constant letter writer and kept a diary of her early life in the town. Janet Axten, Heritage Manager, St Ives Archive, reads excerpts from these papers. They give a vivid insight into wartime life and the artists that she met. Supported by The Barns-Graham Charitable Trust. (This replaces the programme entry ‘Talk: In Search of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’ by Lynne Green)

Ffiona Lewis – Tide Lines but also flowers

Ffiona is currently holding her fifth solo exhibition with the gallery. For this showing, the artist has focused on broadly maritime themes that sit particularly well with the gallery’s St Ives location, however she still harnesses the still life and deals with flowers such as in ‘Hemlock Chalice’ below.

It’s interesting to re-visit the catalogue essay from the last show when looking at this work.

On the Table: Collage and Painting

‘It is working one’s way through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do. How can one get through that wall? Since hammering on it doesn’t help at all. In my view, one must undermine the wall, and grind through it slowly and patiently.’ (Van Gogh, letter to Theo.) In Ffiona Lewis’s show, a slow and patient process is revealed. She has always been a maker of cards, whether birthday or thank you offerings. This has been a major starting point for this body of predominantly interior still lifes. Both worlds share their socialness, their tributes to friendship and events around tables.

The starting blocks are small collages (‘Single Bloom’), manageable, and very importantly, quick to finish. Lewis’s familiar vocabulary is here glued down at the table. Flower shapes, receipts, napkins, sugar in paper sachets – all testimony to things that have happened, arranged into a series of planes, edges and colours with the inherent surprises and enrichment of the collage process.

In tandem with the collages, Lewis remains deeply influenced by her long exploration of flowers. Like other work ‘on the table’, these bouquet offerings are not nature studies, but memories of events and circumstances. Nature is then a springboard into colour. ‘New Rose Cuttings’, with its lustrous red blooms and dark raw umber and olive greens becomes its own investigation, transforming nature’s colour balance into oil paint on board. A quick glance at the work on show might suggest a fork – flower paintings, which retain Lewis’s strong figuration, and the series of apparently more abstract work, clearly related to her collages.

This would be an oversimplification. In ‘Still Life with Broad Bean’, Lewis shows the intimacy of a small table, its cloth and a series of abstracted planes which we can imagine as the leftovers of some event. The work is then anchored by the beans, which we can identify, slightly preposterous, slightly humorous, testaments to something remembered.

‘Glass on Nappery, Indian Yellow’ is not seen by Lewis as an abstraction. It is evidence of a new relationship with colour, mined from the collage and flower paintings. Paint is applied in blocks, but then scraped back in a series of edits to reveal under-painting of lime greens and turquoise blues.

These bigger paintings are informed by the smaller oil studies, back and forth. The balances Lewis sees in nature must be worked out. A plane of white goblet in ‘Still Life – Café 6!’ must be restrained with the tone of its context. It is a work of establishing foregrounds and avoiding ‘splintering’ the composition’s unity.

For Lewis, ‘On the Table’ is not a series of compositions. It is her latest report on the slow and patient process Van Gogh describes. It is a theatre of conversations around the stage of the table, as well as a series of spatial concoctions. For the viewer, it is the product of a discipline of finishing.

CNK, August 2014.