Terry Ilott (1945 - 2019)
A retrospective exhibition
9th - 20th July 2022
Bringing together artworks produced over nearly 50 years this exhibition celebrates the extraordinarily imaginative and mystical artwork of one of Gloucestershire's leading artists of his generation. Although a few of his unique paintings are in private collections, including Andrew Lloyd Webber and Mike Oldfield, most of his work has never been shown.
This is a unique opportunity and one not to be missed.
Terry in his own words...
I was born in 1945 and educated at schools in Gloucester. Between 1963 and 1967, I was a student at Gloucestershire College of Art, Cheltenham, at first on the Pre-Diploma (Foundation) course, then on the Diploma course in the Department of Fine Art (Painting). Between 1967 and 1970, I studied at the Royal College of Art (RCA) on a Postgraduate MA course, also in the Department of Fine Art (Painting).
The 1960s, since much-maligned by critics, were genuinely an incredible period of cultural creativity, optimism and excitement. To be a student in a British Art School at that time was, for me, and for many others, a liberating and life-changing experience, for which I count myself extremely lucky. After leaving the RCA, I married, and, after some part-time teaching, I found a full-time post at Newport College of Art in the Department of Graphic Design, which was broad-minded enough to deliberately appoint a Fine Artist. I enjoyed working with Graphic Design and Illustration students, who were always less pretentious and frequently more creative and talented than their Fine Art contemporaries!
Whilst teaching, I always continued with my own work and, although very conscientious and idealistic in wanting to make the Art School experience as positive for my students as it had been for me, I always thought of myself primarily as an artist. I justified my position as Lecturer by thinking that I was doing less harm than someone else might do in my place!
I always had, and still have, a rather ambivalent attitude towards the art market and to showing and selling my work. Much of my commercial or critical success can be traced back to the fact Lynn Chadwick, the well-known sculptor, who lived locally, bought my entire Diploma exhibition in 1967. The work (at least the last time I looked!) was still on the walls of his magnificent house, now lived in by his son, Daniel. As a result of this, my work was seen and represented for a time by Marlborough Fine Art, who were also agents for Lynn himself. During and after my time at the RCA, Lynn and his wife, Eva, were very supportive, and they occasionally continued to buy my work. It was on a visit to show some of my pictures that I met Mike Oldfield, who also bought some pieces and later commissioned me to design the cover for Crises.
When it comes to my work, my inspiration and themes have, since student days, been quite consistent. One of my favourite quotations is from Albert Einstein, who said: “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” This sense of mystery, together with the more elusive quality of poetry, is nearly always present in the work I most admire, such as the paintings of Samuel Palmer, Johannes Vermeer, and Caspar David Friedrich; the songs of Bob Dylan; and the films of Powell and Pressburger, and Stanley Kubrick. This sense of mystery is also connected to the idea of ’the sublime’, as understood by the Romantic artists (painters, writers and composers), who were inspired by a kind of wonder and awe in the face of nature.
If my paintings are gloomy, which some may say they are, it’s because I take a rather jaundiced, pessimistic view of the human race and its abilities and shortcomings. When people talk of saving the planet, what they often really mean is saving the human race. In fact, I think the world would be a much more beautiful place without us, and it would soon recover if we were to disappear overnight. Despite all this, I’m not really such a total pessimist, and, even in my darkest pictures, there’s usually a glimmer of hope. The other thing to say about my pictures is that I don’t do many of them—six in a year would be a lot. I suppose I take the view that the world is already too full of visual pollution, and I’d rather not add to it unless I have a good reason to.
The medium I use is enamel paint; in other words, household gloss paint. I started using it as a student and have found it to be an extremely effective and versatile medium. I think I was inspired at the time by Sidney Nolan, whose pictures were described, rather glamorously I thought, as being ‘Ripolin on Masonite’, which turns out to be gloss paint on board.
My work up until 1990 made much use of photographic references—images collected over many years, which seemed to me to communicate the feelings I described earlier. After retiring from lecturing at Newport School of Art, my work became much more involved with the qualities of paint, and what it might be used to suggest. Ideas now spring from this, as well as from memory or imagination.
From time to time, I still show my work and also sell it. In 2010, I had an exhibition at the Bristol Guild, and more recently, I took part in an exhibition at Gloucester Museum and Art Gallery with three other artists—all students at Cheltenham in 1963, and who are still making pictures. The show was called, appropriately, ‘Bringing it all back home’.
Selling and, worse still, pricing work is a nightmare for me, and for a lot of artists, I suspect. I tend to value or price my pictures, if I have to, according to how much, or how little, I want to lose them. I like the idea of them leaving to find their place in the world, rather like children, but again, rather like children, I miss them when they’re no longer around.
On that note, perhaps I should mention I’m married with three daughters and seven grandchildren. My wife, Lesley, and I have always been enthusiastic Francophiles, and we’re very proud of the fact all our grandchildren (five boys and two girls) have French fathers and are bilingual.
Public and Private Collections containing Terry's Work
The Chadwick Family
Andrew Lloyd Webber
HM Gallery, Brussels
Boijmans Museum, Rotterdam
Hogarth Galleries, Australia
1945 Born in Gloucester
1957-63 Educated at Sir Thomas Rich’s Grammar School, Gloucester
1963-67 Studied at Gloucestershire College of Art, Cheltenham, - Obtained Dip AD Fine Art (Painting)
1967-70 Studied at Royal College of Art, London, - Received MA (Painting)
1971 Married and lived in Paradise, near Painswick, Gloucestershire
1972 Full-time lecturer in Department of Graphic Design at Newport College of Art (University of Wales College, Newport)
1995 Took early retirement to resume painting full-time
2009 Moved back to Gloucestershire
1966 Reeves Bi-Centenary exhibition
1969 Young Contemporaries’ and travelling version by Arts Council
1970 Summer Exhibition, Piccadilly Gallery
1970 ‘7 Painters, 7 Printmakers’, Royal College Gallery
1971 Two-man exhibition, Wolverhampton Museum and Art Gallery
1973 Four-man exhibition, Marlborough Fine Art, London
1974 ‘Anticipations’, Wolverhampton Polytechnic
1976 Two-man exhibition, Morley Gallery, London
1977 One-man exhibition, Galerie Carlsson, Gothenburg, Sweden
1978 ‘The Drowned World’ illustrations, Wolverhampton Polytechnic
1982 Inaugural exhibition, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
1984 One-man exhibition, Thornbury Arts Festival
1988 One-man exhibition, Balliol College, Oxford University
1996 ‘Mysteries’ one-man exhibition, GPF Gallery, Newport
1997 ‘Relativity’ two-man exhibition with Melissa Cole, Citadel Gallery, Chippenham
2002 ‘Watching the River Flow’ one-man exhibition, GPF Gallery, Newport
2003 ‘Art by Numbers’ Organiser and Exhibitor, Newport Museum and Art Gallery (in aid of Caerleon Arts Festival)
2007 Mixed exhibition curated by John Selway, Washington Gallery, Penarth
2011 ‘Lincoln County Road’ one-man exhibition, Bristol Guild Gallery
1977 Illustrations for J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned World by Dragon’s Dream (unpublished)
1978 Illustrations for Flights of Icarus anthology, published by Dragon’s Dream
1979 Omni magazine
1983 Record covers for Mike Oldfield: album Crises, singles Moonlight Shadow and Shadow on the Wall