The gallery is currently presenting a retrospective solo exhibition of work by Larry Ham. This is the first solo exhibition of work in his native Cornwall by an artist who spent much of his life working in Guernsey. The exhibition runs until 4th April and can be viewed on the gallery website here.
Here is a selection of works from the show, followed by some background information on the artist. The exhibition is accompanied by a newly-published book on the artist by Peter Davies. The book is called ‘Larry Ham – Guernsey’s Cornish-Born Artitst’, which also lends itself to the title of the gallery exhibition.
|Larry Ham 1934-2007
|Larry Ham was born in Newquay, Cornwall. He attended Chelsea School of Art where Vivian Pitchforth taught him drawing. He exhibited in the legendary ‘Artists of Fame and Promise’ series at the Leicester Galleries and later, a west-end solo exhibition with the Cooper Gallery proved commercially successful.
Robert Jones the artist grew up with Larry Ham in Newquay. He states ‘My first impression of Larry was that although he was slight in build, there was an inner toughness about him, this came, not just from his boxing, but I saw it also in his uncompromising attitude towards art’. It was this uncompromising attitude which enabled him to continue painting throughout his life, even when living on the isolated island of Guernsey. He moved there in 1958 with his wife, where he painted powerful abstractions based on the recurring motif of figures against a landscape. He was close to France in more ways than one, and his love of de Stael, Poliakoff and other French-based modern masters was influential on his own impastoed and simplified compositions. He made regular trips to London and abroad and so kept up-to-date with current trends but he also drew inspiration from Guernsey and the beaches; their rocks and light. Guernsey Museum mounted a comprehensive memorial exhibition in 2009.
The monograph ‘Larry Ham: Guernsey’s Cornish-Born artist was published by Peter Davies in 2010 and is available on request. Here is an excerpt from a review of the book by Robert Jones.
‘I visited Larry and Paddy while I was in Guernsey in the 1980s. I remember he showed me the series of football-player paintings he was working on at the time. The Peter Davies book (LARRY HAM – Guernsey’s Cornish-Born Artist) brought to light a whole series of more figurative paintings I was not previously aware of. He has opened my eyes to the extent and quality of Larry Ham’s abstract works. Of the landscape-inspired abstracts, Peter Davies relates: “In these Ham would experiment with the architectonics of scale and coloured surfaces – in a word abstraction, but with the material of paint.” He later describes Larry making up his own paint with pigment sent over from England. In these paintings one senses complex forces working through the artist, the painting, as well as the artist seeking identity. As well as colour, tone and texture, these tactile paintings do clearly have an architectural sense of scale and proportion’.