My paintings are associated with memories of places and events. At Woodhouse Grammar School I was fortunate to be taught art by R A Butler, an accomplished artist and architectural historian. I was awarded a County Major Art Scholarship that allowed me to study architecture at Durham University.
This section illustrates a selection of several hundred sketches and paintings executed over 50 years. Some of my paintings are in private collections in the UK, the USA and Asia. Some have been printed as greeting cards.
Painted while travelling the backwaters of the Mekong Delta after visting Hanoi and Ho Chi Ming City.
The plaza in front of the Courts - painted while traveling with Zara Shakira in January 2018.
Painted after climbing the Lion Rock with Zara Shakira. Zara also painted the same scene.
A magnificent temple at Bagan. Painted at dawn while travelling in Myanmar by rail and river ferry in 2017.
An incredible garden designed by Carlo Scarpa. Painted on holiday with Zara Shakira.
Painted while having lunch with Zara Shakira.
Once the home of Lord Armstrong whose company Vickers Armstrong amassed a fortune from armaments (machine guns) and warships. His house was the first in England to be fitted with electric lighting.
This painting is a view from the art room window at Woodhouse Grammar School, Sheffield. Executed when I was16, it contains those elements that were the background to my childhood – disappearing rural life, urbanisation and industrial wasteland. In the foreground of the picture is an unmade road leading to Woodhouse Mill Station.
There are rows of houses alongside the railway and on the horizon is the winding gear and chimneys of Orgreave Colliery and the Coke and Chemical Works that some years later (1975) was the site of the bitter confrontation and a pitched battle between the Mineworkers Union under their leader Arthur Scargill and the police forces assembled by order of Margaret Thatcher the formidable Tory Prime Minister of the time to ensure delivery of coal to the coking plant. It was the first of my paintings to be framed.
Grey overcast skies captured on a family holiday in Scotland in 1973. The weather was dismal and flies plagued us. The only comfortable place was in the car – painting.
a sketch on vacation with Maggie in 1976
Watercolour of Plage la Vaneresse, painted in 1979 on a family holiday. In the collection of Lorna Davies.
Watercolour of La Trinité-sur-Mer painted in 1979 on a family holiday. In the collection of Zena Davies
Every architect should be accomplished in drawing the human figure otherwise how can one design buildings that respect human scale?
A memory of a catastrophic family holiday on the Yorkshire canals in 1977. It rained for a week and my stepson Hugh fell in the polluted water of the canal at Ferrybridge.
I lived with my then wife Maggie and our four children in Thorp House, Ryton from 1975 to 1980. Our house was built by Charles Thorp, Archdeacon of Durham in 1831 and first warden of Durham University in 1832. Both John Wesley and Charles Wesley preached on the village green depicted in the water colour.
All Saint’s Church Newcastle upon Tyne. An oil painting from Queen Street in 1981. In the collection of Simon Peirson.
Northumberland farmhouse – an oil painting from 1980. Somewhere near Blagdon. In the collection of Lorna Davies.
From October 1979 to January 1980 I was in Sulawesi, Indonesia drawing up a Management Plan for the 200,000 ha Morowali Nature Reserve. This is one of several paintings executed while surveying the park boundaries. In the foreground is the transmigrasi village of Tarongga.
One of a number of oil paintings of the Tuscany hilltop city of Cortona executed between 1981 and 1983 when I taught courses in architecture and painting at an International Summer School. At the summit of the hill is a Medicean fortress. The city was the location for the 2011 TV series The Borgias ( which I did not see).
Painted in 1982. With the American sculptor Anne Barton.
Yellow ochre, burnt umber and the muddy brown water of the River Arno are my memories of Firenze.
S. Maria Nuova at Cortona, Italy. Oil painting while artist-in-residence 1982.
Woods at Wallington. Painted in 1982. Memories of woodland picnics on summer afternoons in the early 1980s. In the collection of Simon Peirson.
Sunlight lancing through the canopy of silver birch trees. A gentle breeze and the smell of summer.
Inspired by David Hockney I used acrylic paint and a palette knife to capture the texture of a swimming pool in the hills above the town of Cortona in the summer of 1982.
Pizzeria in the Park, Cortona. Watercolour pained while artist-in-residence in 1983. Wonderful memories of dining with Martin Attwood, Detta Kelly, Anne Barton and Jane Attwood.
A panoramic view of the Grand Canal. While painting, a Japanese tourist approached me and purchased my first painting for US$100. He got a bargain and I had to do a second version.
The softly rounded hills and wooded valleys near Siena metamorphose into the form of a voluptuous female body in this painting executed in acrylic.
An oil painting looking across the Grand Canal in Venice towards S Marco, executed while teaching a Summer School for International Baccalaureate students in 1983.
In 1985 I travelled by train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, then to Shanghai, and on to Beijing. The journey took three days. This watercolour painting was executed in a railway carriage shortly after leaving Beijing on the return journey. In the mid 1980s everyone in China wore a blue uniform and there were millions of bicycles.
Another memory of my journey by train from Hong Kong to Beijing in 1985. This is a watercolour painted as the train made its way north through the valley of the Yangtze River. It is painted using water streaming down the window of the railway carriage.
In 1985 I walked along several kilometres of the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China.
Beijing in 1985. The great square in front of the Forbidden City was thronged with thousands of people queuing to enter the tomb of Chairman Mao.
Amber Fort, Jaipur
A pen and watercolour of a street in Jaipur, the extraordinary pink city planned by Maharajah Jai Singh in 1727 as a nine-square mandala with the royal palace occupying the central square. The best view of the plan is from the Nahargarh Fort high above the city.
In 1986 I took my stepdaughter on a five-week journey through India and Nepal. At Varanasi on the Ganges River we arose at 5.00 am and hired a rowing boat to float past the bathing ghats. The watercolour was painted with water from the sacred river.
In Zanzibar I visited the conserved house of the notorious 19th century Arab slave-trader Tippu Tip who in 1870 guided Henry Morton Stanley in his search for the headwaters of the Nile. He accompanied Stanley to Uewaja on the banks of the Lualaba River. It transpired the Lualaba did not feed into the Nile but into the mighty Congo. In 1970 I was a member of The Zaire River Expedition that retraced Stanleys’s 4,000 km journey across Africa – we followed the Lualaba from its headwaters in Zambia to the Congo River and thence via Kisingani and Kinshasa to the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1988 I attended a conference in Zanzibar. I took a break from the discussions and flew with architect Charles Correa and his wife Monika to spend a weekend in the Masai Mara. This painting was executed in a light aircraft flying over the vast reserve.
I gave a paper on ‘Asian Cities’ at a conference in Calcutta in 1990. It was an opportunity to explore the former colonial capital of India.
A watercolour of the heart of the city of Patan, one of the three kingdoms that formerly ruled the Kathmandu Valley. The painting was executed in 1990 when I visited Nepal with my wife.
The Singapore River – a watercolour painted in 1991. The DBS Tower designed by Kenzo Tange rises in the foreground.
A water colour in the style of Monet, painted while on holiday with Shantheni, in a farmhouse owned by Norman Edwards at Honfleur, Normandy 1991. In the collection of Lorna Davies
A sketch of the medieval city in northern France.
Painted with a defective brush and on the only scrap of paper I had in my bag this is not the best quality but I love the colours of the English Lake District and the misty Turner-like quality of the hills.
A watercolour of an Orang Asli kampung at Bukit Lanjan near Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Malaysia a short walk from my mother-in-law’s house. Sketch in 1993.
I lived in the northeast of England from 1960 to 1983 and I have fond memories of walking in the English Lake District. I returned on a family holiday in 1994 and painted this watercolour of Grassmere with rain clouds gathering.
Fatephur Sikri was the capital of Akbar’s great Mughal empire. Constructed in 1569 it became unsustainable soon afterwards when water resources were found to be inadequate to support a growing population. Akbar held audiences in the Diwan I Khas seated above the central column that was the ‘axis mundi’ representing the centre of the known world. His advisors approached him independantly from the four corners of the building.
In 1996 I took a group of architectural students on a tour of India that visited the modern architectural gems of Le Corbusier in Chandigarh and historic cities such as Jaipur. This painting was executed after ascending to Amber Fort on the back of an elephant.
The exotic palace of the Maharajah Jai Singh built in the 18th century and set in a lake is simply beautiful.
A courtyard house in the medieval city.
Another hilltop fortress on the edge of the desert.
A watercolour sketch of the fortified city of Jaisalmer on the edge of the Khar Desert, from the roof of my hotel.
The magnificent fortress rises out of the sands on the edge of the Khar Desert. The city protected the ancient trade route.
Another magnificent reminder of the wealth and splendour of India’s aristocracy at the time of the Raj.
The iconic Opera House designed by Jorn Utzon. This is a painting from the window of our hotel located on The Rocks overlooking the harbour. The colours remind me of several wonderful visits to Sydney and the paintings of Ken Done.
I spent many weekends between 1990 and 2002 playing cricket on the historic Padang in Singapore, arguably the most valuable cricket square in the world. The towers of the Central Business District overlook the field. For one season I was Captain of the SCC Saturday XI.
A painting of the Ondaîa at Rabat in Morocco.
A pencil and watercolour sketch of the impressive Elephant Terrace at Wat Thom made during a working assignment in Cambodia in 1999
The incredible city of Angkor Wat at sunrise. Later in the day I explored the city and other Kymer monuments taking care to keep to well defined tracks and avoid the still dangerous minefields laid by the Kymer Rouge.
A self-portrait executed in pencil and watercolour in 2000.
Tuscany is one of my favourite places. From 1981 -1983 I taught art and architecture at a Summer School for International Baccalaureate students in Cortona. Several times in subsequent years I have returned to Italy. This watercolour painting was executed from the window of a villa that my family rented in 2007 and it depicts the distant towers of the magical city of San Gimignano.
The most incredible urban space I have ever experienced – the scene of the Palio – a festive horse race. I drew the Medieval Piazza in pencil in 1982 and again in pen and ink in 2007.
A magical triangular piazza in San Gimignano, thronged with people enjoying dining al fresco.
A wonderful circular public space surronded by shops and restaurants. I sat, with a glass of wine and a pizza, and drew this picture.
In 2009 I travelled the length of Libya, from the ruins of the historic Greek cities of Apollonia and Cyrenia to the east of Al-Bayda, to the ancient port of Ptolmais and later across the northern Sahara Desert to the World Heritage Site of Ghadames on the Tunisian border.
In 2009 I crossed the northern Sahara Desert. Tourag tribesman near Ghadames were staunch supporters of Muamar Quadafi during the civil war of 2011.
I studied classical architecture as part my university course but it was many years later that I had the opportunity to visit the delicate Porch of the Caryatids on the north side of the Erechtheion Temple on the Acropolis. It is exquisite.
St. Lawrence Church at Tinsley, near Sheffield in Yorkshire has witnessed many of the main events in the life of my family. My maternal grandparents Arthur and Eliza Norton are buried here as are my mother and father, Henry and Violet Powell, and my elder sister Valerie who died aged three in 1942. All occupy a single grave by the northeast corner of the church that is usually in shade. But on a rare occasion in October 2012 the afternoon sun bathed the west facade in soft light and illuminated the gravestone. My sisters Zena and Lorna were both married in the church to brothers Mike and Roger Davies.
A crowded souk in the Moroccan port of Essaouira and the entrance to the courtyard of the delightful Hotel Riad Al Madina, painted on vacation in 2011. I drank mint tea and painted while Shantheni trawled the shops.
Bamburgh Castle dominates the village and the Northumbrian coastline. It is also the backdrop to a splendid cricket pitch. I painted this watercolour while on holiday in 2015. Memories of a 1970s Gatsby themed party in the cricket pavilion to celebrate Mary Dixon’s birthday.
A fort built in the time of Elizabeth l to subdue the marauding Scots. There is an interior remodeled by Edwin Lutyens and a beautiful walled garden designed by Gertrude Jekyl. Painted while on a visit to the northeast in 2015.