If you visited Jason Michael’s pop up gallery in the St Mary’s Centre this weekend, you will have seen the work of one time Rye resident, artist and musician, Martin Bradshaw.
Martin will be well known to many in Rye, as he was once actively engaged in its cultural life as coordinator of visual arts for the Rye Arts Festival, and subsequently designed the festival brochure for several years.
He is known for his vibrant paintings and exciting use of colour. When I worked with him on designs for the festival brochure, he tugged me away from my neutral Farrow and Ball tones and gave me the courage to use bright oranges, blues and purples. I heard similar praise from students on his art workshops where he encouraged them to be bold and experimental. Until quite recently, he worked almost entirely in watercolour, but then chose to migrate to painting in acrylics on canvas in order to explore picture making on a larger scale.
Martin moved to St Leonards-on-Sea a few years ago where he divides his time between painting, exhibiting and working at Hastings Arts Forum as gallery coordinator. “There is a vicarious pleasure derived from seeing other artists’ work in the gallery. Exhibitions change every two weeks, so there is a constant flow of art work which is wonderful and often inspiring” he says.
Martin didn’t find lockdown a difficult time as he was hard at work in his studio preparing for future exhibitions but artists have responded in different ways.
From October 6-22 the gallery is running an exhibition called “Lockdown”. Martin says “lockdown and the enforced hermetic state has led to a reflective time for some artists, resulting in experimentation and changes in direction”. You can find out more by visiting the Hastings Arts Forum website.
From music to art
Originally trained as a professional cellist Martin came to live in Rye to concentrate on his other passion: painting. He says “Architectural subjects: buildings, structures and even plants, have been a source of inspiration for my work for as long as I can remember, which I think developed from the many cathedrals, churches and theatres I worked in as a musician.”
He left his job as a cellist in the BBC to study art for two years. “I had been with the orchestra for ten years, and I remember sitting in a rehearsal and thinking: I don’t want to get to retirement having done nothing else” So, one Monday morning in 1991 he found himself sitting in his first life class at Camden School of Art having done his last concert, and leaving a salaried job, the night before.
Working mostly from drawings and sketches, and imagination, he aims to articulate a response to the exotic and mundane aspects of the world as he experiences them, be it life in St Leonards, or further afield. “Some of my most successful pictures are done spontaneously, working quickly and instinctively without too much forethought. It seems to encourage a looser style and feel – otherwise I tend to get bogged down fiddling with the painting, which usually leads to tragedy!”
The image gallery shows a range of his work but more can be seen at the galleries listed below.
Martin can be contacted by email. His new website is currently under construction. Martin’s work can be viewed at the galleries below:
Hastings Arts Forum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and is at 20 Marine Court, St Leonards-on-Sea, TN38 0DX
Image Credits: Martin Bradshaw .