This brilliant piece of painting is by a long time friend, Paul Hempton, 'Across a Ravine' was painted in the early 80's and resides in the Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
I have known Paul for fifty years, since his Royal College days. Distant memory of him disappearing through London traffic with his guitar on the way to a band practice. Then a good night in a Yates Wine Lodge in Nottingham, where he had a Fellowship, a string quartet playing on the mezzanine. Later it was the Cotswolds, they had moved to Minchinhampton, I was still working for Ralph Brown and living in Hoskin's studio in Siddington. Then Porlock, Paul had bought a camper van to enable painting expeditions, children had arrived for both of us and life moved on. Paul took a lecturing post in Painting at Wolverhampton Art College.
Paul's painting attracted attention, works travelling to shows at home and abroad, and his prints received acclaim, the British Council acquired works, the Victoria and Albert assisted museums with purchases, a trajectory was developing . I have a great watercolour from a show in Nottingham and a later, larger etching, 'Stone, Staff and Ellipse' from 1986. These works give great pleasure but I also have a great collection of Paul's woodcuts, every year for as long as I can remember we have received as a Christmas greeting a fine small woodcut, whose arrival is always much anticipated and appreciated. I have lost sight of Paul's painting and I have a suspicion he has laid down his brushes.
We had a pre covid catch up day in Gloucestershire last summer and I entirely lacked the bottle to inquire about the painting, however we had a conversation that perhaps cast, with hindsight, a little insight. Paul has enjoyed, enjoys, fiddling with and fixing their motor vehicles. I failed to comprehend the pleasure that was derived and Paul explained that with mechanical problems there was usually a right way to proceed, a logical solution to be found and an odds on successful outcome, with painting there was always compromise and rarely an absolute, he could be right but I never perceived his work to be unresolved, I felt he always hit the mark, producing some remarkable work.
This is a postscript to the above piece, for I have posed the question and my assumptions were entirely wrong, the paint brushes have not been laid down, life continues thank goodness. I would love to publish Paul's response but it would be a be a step too far, however I am truly happy to say that the acerbic wit and withering observations unleashed are an absolute joy.
AGED AND AWKWARD