What goes on behind his scenes

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Artist in residence: Rye-based artist Richard Adams's early works included pub signs

Richard Adams, a Rye artist who has carved for himself a unique and easily recognisable style, gave a fascinating insight into the sometimes precarious world of the artist when he spoke to the Friends of Rye Art Gallery at their April event. Adams’s work, to the delight of Ryers, often includes images of the town.

He spoke to a packed gallery about his early years growing up in Wiltshire and studying illustration at Leicester Polytechnic. After graduating he moved to London and worked as a freelance illustrator for several years, with the Radio Times, Penguin Books and BP among his clients.

Fans of Bananaman (29 Acacia Road) will be intrigued to learn that Adams worked for a while as an animator on this cartoon series. He also showed images from the era when he was commissioned to paint signs for a chain of pubs.

Despite the financial security provided by these regular commissions he yearned to be able to break away from the constraints of painting to order. As computer software became more readily available in the late 1980s with ready-made artwork there was less demand for illustrators and, by the 1990s, Adams had decided to take the plunge and to concentrate on his own distinctive style of art. He went on to describe his painting technique, which uses chalk pastel in preference to oil and how the pastel is fixed with a special varnish.

Adams’s curious and imaginative work, filled with people you think you might have met and some that you most certainly have never met, in surroundings that sometimes seem familiar, has captivated all those who have come to his latest exhibition at the Rye Art Gallery. Typically modest, the artist did not mention the many awards his work has attracted over the years.

Friends of Rye Art Gallery hold regular monthly events which are open to all. Keep up to date by joining the group; application forms are always available in the Gallery.

Our next speaker will be Dr Paul Rennie, head of context in design at Central Saint Martins arts college, London. He will be speaking about how, towards the end of 1941, the National Gallery made a serious attempt to widen access to the work of the official war artists. To achieve this, four large prints from the work of Paul Nash, Barnett Freedman, Edward Ardizzone and Stanley Spencer were printed and distributed, at cost, to factory canteens and other venues. This talk will be on May 5, at Rye Art Gallery, 107 High Street, Rye, at 7.30pm.

Paddy Harvey is the chair of Friends of Rye Art Gallery