Paintings are a love letter to the hills

INSPIRED: Artist David Prentice hard at work in his studio. His paintings celebrate his love for the Malvern Hills.

INSPIRED: Artist David Prentice hard at work in his studio. His paintings celebrate his love for the Malvern Hills.

First published in News

A PROMINENT Malvern artist is using his 75th birthday celebration to continue giving something to the town.

David Prentice will mark the landmark, which he reaches today, by exhibiting a series of oil paintings of the Malvern Hills in the Riding High gallery, Worcester Road, throughout the month.

Mr Prentice started painting in Malvern back in 1986 making the drive from his Northamptonshire home.

This inspired him to move to the town in 1990 and set up a studio at his Malvern Wells home.

“I retired in 1986, which is when I started working on the hills and I had been a fairly abstract painter up until that stage.

“I describe it as giving up being David Prentice. It’s sort of theatrical and miles away from the subject matter that I was interested in.

“I came here anytime the weather got interesting and I just started by sitting on the hills.”

Due to the vast numbers of hours spent exploring the landscape Mr Prentice has developed a close affinity with its striking contours. “I can virtually revolve the hills in my head because I have done an immense amount of work – thousands of drawings.

“Sometimes I do straight-forward watercolours and then sometimes I just make it up. It’s like taking notes for an exam – once you have it in your head you are free and you can do what you like.”

David has a daily routine of walking and sketching on the hills, which get his creative juices flowing. He has filled three sketchbooks in the last four weeks alone.

“Every morning I go out for a two or three-mile walk and do a sketch. There’s usually something around to get you going. It’s a way of limbering up in the morning and it gets my eyes working.”

The sketches take 10 to 20 minutes, but David doesn’t work from them directly – more often than not he invents the image as he works. He says the themes of floating aerial views and travel by foot and car that appear in his current work have featured throughout his career, though he is unsure of where his work will go next.

“I am sure something will crop up in my perambulations. A lot of what I do is quite autobiographical, where I walk and where I drive and where my children are.”

Mr Prentice has been a prize-winner in the Sunday Times/Singer and Fried-lander watercolour competition on four occasions, including first prize in 1990, which all featured the hills. This is something he describes as the best part of his career.

He studied at Moseley School of Art and Crafts and then taught at Birmingham College of Art and Crafts and at Mid-Warwickshire School of Art. He was also a founder of the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham.

Other exhibitions showcasing Mr Prentice’s work from 1984 to the present day are being held at Monnow Valley Arts, Walterstone, Herefordshire, until August 28, at the John Davies Gallery in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, from July 16 to August 6 and at Number Nine the Gallery, Birmingham, from July 9-24.

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