LARRY HAM – Guernsey’s Cornish-Born Artist

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’.

7 thoughts on “LARRY HAM – Guernsey’s Cornish-Born Artist

  1. My name is Bryan Pearce and I grew up with Larry in Newquay. We went to school together and also the local youth club. It was here that the lady leader recognised that Larry had artistic talents and encouraged him to paint murals on the walls of the Club. I`m afraid I can`t remember Robert Jones. Did we perhaps go to school together? I would be interested to know whether Larry returned to Newquay after going to Art College and before going to Guernsey. Where did he meet his wife?. If there is anyone reading this who could enlighten me I would be extremely grateful.

    1. Hi Bryan, my name is Graeme and I am Larrys son, it’s been a while since you posted this but if you are still after the information post a reply. I will keep an eye on this page for the next couple of months.

      1. Hi Graeme, so sorry for not replying sooner, I have no excuse, I just have not looked on this site. From now on I will look at least once a week. I am still interested, your father and I were great friends and it would be nice to know what he did with his life, living in Guersey seems the sort of life that I would have liked. I am nearly 80 now but I can still remember some of the things the your dad and I got up to. I used to call on him on Saturday mornings early, he was always still in bed, however his mum used to buy him comics which were delivered on Saturday morning, so while he was getting out of bed I used to look at his comics, I couldn’t afford any of my own. If you pick this up and feel that you can, I would like to hear about your dad…regards Bryan Pearce

    1. Yes, I am. I’ve just been having another look at your Dads paintings.It is a hobby/pastime of mine; I don,t have the courage to produce work like Larry produced, I suppose thats what happens when one goes to art collage. Graeme, did your Mum come from Newquay? I can remember Larry having a girl friend but I cant remember her name, I just wondered.Its all been so long ago. We are going to Cornwall in April; I don’t know where you live, but if it is anywhere near, perhaps we could meet. We live in Chester, a long way from Cornwall, but that is what life does, takes you away from places you like. Take care, hope to hear from you soon…………..Bryan

      1. Hi Bryan, yes my mum came from Newquay, Patricia Hoy, they moved to Guernsey over 50 years ago. Have you got an email address so we don’t have to speak on here?

  2. Hi — I have been trying to trace the origins or a painting we have on one of the walls in our house and have a feeling it was painted by Larry; the style does seem to fit and its signed L Ham 1959. I don’t suppose you know if he painted any paintings on walls in Port Navas Cornwall around that time? I’d be happy to send you a photo if you’re interested. Best regards Ben

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