GRAHAM OVENDEN (born 1943) Biography
BROTHERHOOD OF RURALISTS (founded 1975) Biography

Grizelle (Cornwall, 2005)

Oil on paper laid on board
Titled, signed and dated on the reverse


42.30cm high
31.00cm wide
(16.65 inches high)
(12.20 inches wide)
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The Artist

Description / Expertise

In an interview with Sir Alistair Johnston on the 11th September 1999, Graham Ovenden discusses some of the motives and inspirations of his Ruralist vision; an ideal bound up with a ‘mystic arcadia’ and the ‘girl-child’. He also talks through contemporary perceptions of his work, predominantly clouded by the destructive pressures of the media and a: society of prurience and Puritanism combined with a level of hypocrisy which is really very difficult to come to terms with.

Graham Ovenden would like to consider himself as part of the great tradition of English landscape art - an art which is based on Celtic and Christian Pantheism: back to the roots of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight further, the first English poets, then taking its progression through. Its summits being William Blake and Samuel Palmer, ending up in this century with Paul Nash, Spencer, and artists of a like nature.

In the midst of his Arcadian vision is the ‘girl-child’: a part of nature, an organic part of nature, and therefore has the same validity as a growing tree. It's no coincidence that most of my landscape paintings deal with spring: ecstasy burgeoning forth. So I think one could say that one is the metaphor for the other, and vice-versa… Graham Ovenden’s portraits of children, however, are not often placed within this Arcadian landscape.
Graham explains how: the important thing in the picture is the figure: the living human organism within it. The environment is only very secondary to the situation. My general feeling is that the more simple a picture is, the more it can communicate… just looking at the face of the child can be so fraught, so laden, can't it? It can be so filled with every degree of love, every degree of ecstacy: anything you can imagine! Just a simple portrait....