Alex and Alan Gavin
I love the feel of hand-made paper and use it with pen and ink or watercolour. I also like to paint more abstract works in oil as I find it a more emotive and expressive medium.
I studied art up to AS level at school, but am predominantly self-taught, painting for pleasure and as a means of absorption and escape. My History of Art MA in Byzantine Art at the Courtauld Institute was another influential part of my artistic development, as it provided me with a better understanding of the power of symbolism and the use of gold to enhance sacred images.
This is my first year doing SEOS! My Dad has taken part three or four times and has finally persuaded me to have a go!
My Dad is such an inspiration to me, even though our styles are quite different. I owe the majority of my artistic genes to him! Artists like Escher (the detail), Klimt (the gold patterns), Dali (the strangeness) and Turner (the emotion) have each inspired me and my art over the years.
At the moment I am obsessed with painting fish! So there will be shoals of them on display in my studio this year. Before that, I painted angels. These obsessions seen to come in phases. But I always make time for abstract work because I find it immensely freeing.
I like to try out new media to challenge me artistically, with work in both pottery and glass – courtesy of my father’s kiln!
I am lucky enough to have had my artwork displayed on the walls of Sotheby’s. (This was due to the fact that I worked there and always got involved with staff art exhibitions!) I am so looking forward to opening my house with South East Open Studios for the first time this year. If you like what you see, I am also available for commission pieces on request – just visit my studio in June!
Alex Gavin – Fish
Alex Gavin – Shoal
Before retiring, I was a marine structural engineer / naval architect for 35 years. This provided a foundation for my art in that form, line, perspective and detail were all important- sometimes to the detriment of the painting – I don’t know when to stop! As you age, both sides of the brain talk to each other so the art and mathematics merge together and your painting becomes freer.
Apart from the school art teacher, I was taught oil painting by a local artist and then took courses in life drawing in Tonbridge and at Charleston Farmhouse, plus clay sculpture by Silvia Macrae Brown in Newhaven, and stone masonry by Chris Pellet in Whitesmith. All of them gave me the freedom to try different mediums and open the mind to new concepts.
SEOS was a great opportunity to show my art other than at the Battle Art Group exhibitions and various charity exhibitions. I have done SEOS for three years. The best parts, apart from selling a few paintings and sculptures, were talking to visitors about art and encouraging those that have put away their paints to start again. It is also provides focus and the need to create at least 30 art pieces during the year.
I have wide ranging inspirations coming from many sources. I love the sea – its calmness and its incredible power. I love the colours in other countries – no wonder past artists were not believed when they showed their paintings of foreign climes. My daughter sends me lots of photos on her travels and fills my head with possibilities which often end up on canvas. I am now looking at legends, folklore and fantasy for future inspiration.
Alan Gavin – The Sea
Alan Gavin – New York
Alex Gavin will be showing at Sinclair House in Orpington and Alan Gavin at Barrack Farm in Battle (see pages 7 and 64 of the guide).