Tuesday 26 August 2014

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old St Ives artist called Victor Bramley

Victor, self-taught and the longest serving member of the St Ives Society of Artists, has died at the age of 80.

What you possibly didn't know about Victor, that he :

* was born in Sheffield in 1934, five years before the outbreak of the Second World War, into a family of butchers which he later said : "held the proud boast of helping feed the steelworkers of Sheffield throughout the War."

* recalled the occasion, when he was seven in 1941 and his class at Junior School, were told by their teacher, to put their gas masks on and draw a tree and he received acclaim from the teacher with words to the effect that "this laddie can draw better with his gas mask on than the rest of you can with them off " and later said : "I glowed inside my gas mask. It was my first contact with art criticism and I've never forgotten it."
* passed the 11+ exam in 1945 and attended Firth Park Grammar School for Boys, Sheffield and remembered the look of despondency on the Headteacher's face when he told him on leaving school at 16, that he "wanted to be an artist" and later admitted : "A metallurgist would have been more fitting and my father would have settled for a meat inspector. However, I still finished up in the steelworks, working my way from office boy to a progress clerk."

* found that, by the time he was twenty, "after four years, the poisonous atmosphere was killing me, but I managed to escape and found a job with the Forestry Commission "at Wharnecliffe Side on the outskirts of Sheffield and later said : "This, together with my frequent walking, caving, climbing and cycling expeditions, to Derbyshire, Wales and the Lake District and so on, helped me to grow stronger physically and spiritually and gave me some insight into myself and the surrounding landscape."

* during the 1950's his "artistic endeavours were relegated to a small shed at the bottom of the garden", but having heard about the art colony in St Ives, at the age of 25, "plucked up enough courage" to find out if he could make a future with his art and left Sheffield and headed for the South West : http://www.britishpathe.com/video/st-ives

* soon after his arrival in St Ives in 1959, after the train journey from St Erth left him “wide-eyed and open-mouthed”, found work washing dishes at Curnow’s Hotel in the centre town where he met and was smitten by fellow artist Jacque Moran, “a young woman of extraordinary beauty” who he married the following year and embarked on their 20 year marriage.

* later recalled that "when Barbara Hepworth was in St Ives, as were Bernard Leach, Pete Lanyon and Bryan Wynter, among others, and I soon became familiar with seeing the famous and not so famous artists walking the streets of what was then still an exceedingly charming village. Even though I was up to my eyes in dish washing I was liberated!" and started work in his first studio, a condemned cottage.

 * began to exhibit his work with the Penwith Society of Arts at its Fore Street Gallery and at the age of 28 in Spring 1962 was elected to the St Ives Society of Artists, and had his first exhibition with ‘Marigold and Weeds’, ‘September Teasel’ and ‘Chrysanthemums’ and proceeded to work in studios in the town, including the Sail Loft and once said, "St Ives, for me, is always associated with happy times."

 * saw himself as an artist and magician and said : “By magic I don’t mean wizards and dragons but something more available and shared by us all. The important thing in art is that magic should happen. I’m wrapped up in the same pursuits as the prehistoric cave man, the Tibetan monk, the perpetrator of the crop circles, be he human or alien, and the manipulator of the computer-generated magic eye design. I find them all fascinating. They’re all pursuing a similar goal, the explanation of how we see, what we think, feel and believe, and who we are. I don’t have a cave wall or a corn field handy and I don’t own a computer, but I do have some paper, a burnt stick, a brush and some pigments, and I’m trying to make some magic.” http://www.stisa.co.uk/artist-gallery/victor-bramley/

* moved to rural 'Nancledra', where he rented what had been the village mill as a studio, which allowed him "to capitalize on the understanding I had gained working with trees and seeking adventure in the wilder parts of Derbyshire and Yorkshire" and as well as 'making magic', had a highly successful exhibition of his mandalas at the Orion Gallery in Penzance in 1974, taught art in St Ives and Zennor and in the 1970s became the first yoga instructor in Penwith.

* said that he had "great affection for Wales and the English Lake District" because "mountain areas have always attracted me and I have spent many days walking and climbing in the hills. Having said that, I am still quite happy to explore the-relationship between a few simple objects on a table and still Iife has always been one of the cornerstones of my work .Art changes, not always for the better, but I think that an artist should perhaps be looking to reflect the constant truths in our lives and not merely to become a follower of the latest fashionable way to paint." 
 * in addition to exhibiting regularly with the St Ives Society of Artists and the breakaway Penwith Society of Arts, being one of the few to bridge the gap between the two societies,.exhibited in and sold in Britain and abroad, but kept his Yorkshire feet on the ground  and said : "Success in art is often measured in money these days, and heaven knows I've sold many paintings, but if this becomes the criterion then the artist's vision, if he or she has any, is certainly in peril and I do see this happening all around me. Surely, we should be talking more about artistic integrity than money?"

* in 2013, at the age of 79, visited the Crypt Gallery, St Ives to view his 'Perseus and the Ice Cream Eaters' with his second wife, Bernadette and pleased with the lighting and position said : "Well they’ve done me proud here John. What a great position" and to Bernadette : "I never do you justice you know" and continued : "There’s me surgeon, my hero, he is. Lovely man."

Despite his success as an artist, he never lost sight of who he was and where he came from. He was, as he would have said, "a proper man."

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