Paintings

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.


Sampan on the Sarawak River, Kuching

2019

The Indian Mosque on the Sarawak River, Kuching

2019

Mekong Delta, Vietnam

2018

Painted while travelling the backwaters of the Mekong Delta after visting Hanoi and Ho Chi Ming City.

The Magistrates Courts Galle Sri Lanka

The plaza in front of the Courts - painted while traveling with Zara Shakira in January 2018.

Lion Rock Sigiriya Sri Lanka.

2018

Painted after climbing the Lion Rock with Zara Shakira. Zara also painted the same scene.

Mandalay Palace Myanmar

2017

Dhamma – yan- gyi Pahto, South Gunni, Bagan Myanmar

A magnificent temple at Bagan. Painted at dawn while travelling in Myanmar by rail and river ferry in 2017.

Fonfazione Querini Stampalia, Venice

2016

An incredible garden designed by Carlo Scarpa. Painted on holiday with Zara Shakira.

Canale di San Marco, Venice

2016

Painted while having lunch with Zara Shakira.

A waiter in the Rif Hotel, Tangier

1990

Rice fields at Chiangmai, Thailand

Cragside, Northumberland 1980

1980

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.

From the Art Room Window

1958

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.

Uig, The Isle of Skye

1973

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.

Glen Luce Abbey

1976

a sketch on vacation with Maggie in 1976

Watercolour of Plage la Vaneresse

Watercolour of Plage la Vaneresse, painted in 1979 on a family holiday. In the collection of Lorna Davies.

Watercolour of La Trinité-sur-Mer

Watercolour of La Trinité-sur-Mer painted in 1979 on a family holiday. In the collection of Zena Davies

Nude reading

1976

Every architect should be accomplished in drawing the human figure otherwise how can one design buildings that respect human scale?

Ferrybridge Power Station, Yorkshire

1977

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.

The White House, Ryton, Tyne and Wear, UK

1977

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

All Saint’s Church Newcastle upon Tyne. An oil painting from Queen Street in 1981. In the collection of Simon Peirson.

Northumberland farmhouse

Northumberland farmhouse – an oil painting from 1980. Somewhere near Blagdon. In the collection of Lorna Davies.

Gunung Tokala, Sulawesi

1980

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.

Cortona, Italy

1981

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).

Bridge over a canal in Venice

Painted in 1982. With the American sculptor Anne Barton.

Ponte Vecchio, Firenze

1982

Yellow ochre, burnt umber and the muddy brown water of the River Arno are my memories of Firenze.

S. Maria Nuova at Cortona, Italy

S. Maria Nuova at Cortona, Italy. Oil painting while artist-in-residence 1982.

Woods at Wallington

Woods at Wallington. Painted in 1982. Memories of woodland picnics on summer afternoons in the early 1980s. In the collection of Simon Peirson.

A wood in Northumberland

1982

Sunlight lancing through the canopy of silver birch trees. A gentle breeze and the smell of summer.

Pool at Cortona, Italy

1982

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

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.

Venice

1983

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.

Siena landscape

1983

The softly rounded hills and wooded valleys near Siena metamorphose into the form of a voluptuous female body in this painting executed in acrylic.

Venice

1983

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.

Cyclists, Beijing

1985

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.

The Yangtze Valley China

1985

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.

The Great Wall of China

1985

In 1985 I walked along several kilometres of the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China.

Tien an Mien Gate Beijing

1985

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.

1986

Amber Fort, Jaipur

Jaipur, India

1986

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.

Bathing Ghats Varanasi India

1986

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.

A halt for mint tea on the outskirts of Marrakesh

1990

Stonetown, Zanzibar

1988

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.

Masai Mara

1988

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.

The Victoria Memorial, Calcutta, India

1990

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.

Patan, Kathmandu Valley Nepal

1990

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.

Shantheni

1991

The Singapore River

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

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

Rue Danielle, Rouen

1991

A sketch of the medieval city in northern France.

Lake Ullswater

1991

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

1993

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.

Tuareg/ Berber camel train in Algeria

1994

Sketches in India

1994

Grassmere England

1994

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.

Diwan I Khas, Fatehpur Sikri, India

1994

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.

Sydney Harbour in the style of Australian painter Ken Done

1996

Amber Fort Jaipur 1996

Amber Fort Jaipur 1996

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.

Lake Palace, Jaipur, India

1996

The exotic palace of the Maharajah Jai Singh built in the 18th century and set in a lake is simply beautiful.

Ahmedabad, India

1996

A courtyard house in the medieval city.

Borj Nord, Fez, Morocco

1996

Another hilltop fortress on the edge of the desert.

Jaisalmer Fort, India

1996

A watercolour sketch of the fortified city of Jaisalmer on the edge of the Khar Desert, from the roof of my hotel.

Jaisalmer Fort, India

1996

The magnificent fortress rises out of the sands on the edge of the Khar Desert. The city protected the ancient trade route.

Lake Palace, Udaipur, India

1996

Another magnificent reminder of the wealth and splendour of India’s aristocracy at the time of the Raj.

Sydney Opera House, Australia, 1996

1996

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.

Singapore Cricket Club 1998

1998

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.

Rabat

1998

A painting of the Ondaîa at Rabat in Morocco.

Elephant Terrace Wat Thom Angkor

1999

A pencil and watercolour sketch of the impressive Elephant Terrace at Wat Thom made during a working assignment in Cambodia in 1999

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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.

Self-portrait

2000

A self-portrait executed in pencil and watercolour in 2000.

San Gimignano, Italy

2007

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.

Piazza del Campo, Siena, Italy

2007

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.

Piazza della Cisterna, San Gimignano

2007

A magical triangular piazza in San Gimignano, thronged with people enjoying dining al fresco.

Piazza Antifeatro, Lucca, Italy

2007

A wonderful circular public space surronded by shops and restaurants. I sat, with a glass of wine and a pizza, and drew this picture.

Ghadames Libya

2009

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.

Tourag, Libya

2009

In 2009 I crossed the northern Sahara Desert. Tourag tribesman near Ghadames were staunch supporters of Muamar Quadafi during the civil war of 2011.

The Erechtheion, Greece

2010

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, Tinsley, Sheffield

2011

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.

Essaouira, Morocca

2011

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.

A glass of wine with Shantheni by Milan Cathedral

2013

Breakfast with Zara Shakira in Montmartre

2014

Catedral y Giralda – Sevilla

2014

Istanbul Skyline from Galata Bridge

2015

Bamburgh Castle

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.

Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island

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.