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JOHN MADDISON

1st to 30th September 2018

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Measurements in inches

There is a poem by Edward Thomas called ‘Tall Nettles’ which celebrates the nettles in a forgotten corner of a farmyard, where the dust is never disturbed ‘Except to prove the sweetness of a shower’. I thought of these lines recently when visiting the Norwich studio of John Maddison to see the paintings being displayed in this show of forty works.

The works range in size and medium; large distemper paintings on linen and small oil panels, of architectural, townscape, landscape, interior and still life subjects, as well as nine big charcoal drawings of rooms and details in the Soane Museum in London. Each is a confluence of matter and light, and of the painter’s eye and skill capturing and transmitting the truth of that meeting. Each seems like an exercise in proving the sweetness of that ordinary moment.

Maddison recognises this himself and admits to the ‘celebration of the ordinary’, the corner of the room, the view from a window, and the shadow on a tabletop. He says: ‘there is so much beauty in everyday things: so many of my own early happy memories are wrapped up in ordinary moments, for example how the sunlight was on a particular day’. This is represented in his still lifes too - sometimes very Morandi-like - the flower in a jam jar, the ceramic jug, the china in a cupboard, as much as in the study of a street scene or a fieldscape.

Maddison took to painting after an early career in architectural history, initially as an academic specialising in medieval church architecture (his visual understanding of built structure is an important thread). He feels that he was influenced by his mother’s profound belief that art was just about the most important thing in life. ‘She had studied at the Edinburgh School of Art, and took me to Rome and Florence’. Later, meeting the painter Dick Lee was very important to the development of Maddison’s painting . Lee taught at Camberwell, and was a friend of many painters including William Coldstream. ‘Dick had a great influence on me. He always believed that you should invest deeply in the act of depiction, that every painting should be the best you could do. At the same time he thought a lot of painting was “overcooked”; I remember him saying of one of my early paintings done under his watchful eye , “mmm, good but there was a purer moment”’.

Of the large charcoal drawings of the interior of Sir John Soane’s Museum, which he has never exhibited before, Maddison says: ‘I learnt such a lot working there, with all that architecture and sculpture; the rooms are quite small but often top lit; so you have to make a virtue of the chiaroscuro. Soane intended it as a place of experimentation and the rooms challenged me in new ways.’

The simplicity of these large monochromatic interior studies is echoed in his smaller paintings. These have an echo of the famous oil sketch A Wall in Naples by the eighteenth-century painter Thomas Jones; this painting is a small section of the world just ‘truthfully observed’. For Maddison, this is essential, ‘I try and try for truth, although we may only produce a shadow of the truth - each painting has its own reason to be’ , an attempt to capture the fleeting beauty of the world - to prove the sweetness of a moment, like that fall of rain on the dust of a nettle leaf.

Jeremy Musson 2018

 

John Michael Maddison

CURRICULUM VITAE

   
1952
born 17th November, St Andrews.
1974
BA Hons. First Class, History of Art, University of Manchester
1975-78
Taught  Medieval Art at the University of Leeds, Department of Fine Art.
1978
Ph.D in Medieval Architectural History.
1978-81
Northern Caseworker, then Architectural Adviser to the Victorian Society.
1982-92
National Trust Historic Buildings Representative for East Anglia.
1992-
Artist and freelance writer

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (Medal for services to the Society)
Honorary Doctor of Arts Anglia Ruskin University
Member of the Advisory Council of the Norfolk Churches Trust
Member of the Historic Churches Committee of the Diocese of East Anglia

EXHIBITIONS:
   
1990
Cadogan Contemporary Summer Exhibition 
1992
RA Summer Exhibition; Eastern Arts Drawing For All.
1993
RA Summer Exhibition
1994
RA Summer Exhibition (featured in RA Illustrated ); First solo show Bacon’s Gallery, Aylsham.
1995
Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, Still Life, Interiors (one of three artists); RA Summer Exhibition; Second solo show at Bacon’s Art Gallery, Aylsham
1996
Third Solo show at Bacon’s Gallery; RA Summer Exhibition; Jerram Gallery, Salisbury ; Gallery 27 Cork Street
1997
Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour; RA Summer Exhibition (featured in RA Illustrated); Nicholas Bowlby Gallery, Tunbridge Wells; Cambridge Contemporary Art, Joint exhibition Two Views; Wykeham Gallery, Stockbridge; John Martin Albemarle Street; Old Fire Engine House Ely; Gallery 27 Cork Street (James Huntington Whiteley)
1998
Solo show at the Jerram Gallery, Salisbury.
1999

Intimate Interiors, Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery (with two other painters)

2000
Solo show at the Jerram Gallery, Salisbury; Air Gallery, Dover Street (James Huntington-Whiteley)
2001
April. Featured Painter at Cambridge Contemporary Art
2002
Solo show at the Wykeham Gallery, Stockbridge
2004

Solo show in Jerwood Series at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford;
Solo show at the Wykeham Gallery, Stockbridge

2005
Solo show Cedar House Gallery,Ripley; Withers Gallery, Itteringham, Norfolk, Wykeham Gallery
2006
Solo show at Chappel Galleries Essex (March) Two-man show at Wimpole |Hall, Cambs (April) Solo-show at Wykeham Gallery, Stockbridge (October). Thompson’s Gallery, London
2007
Solo show at The King of Hearts, Norwich; Thompson’s Gallery, London; The Art Stable, Child Okeford, Dorset
2008
Mixed shows at the Jerram Gallery, Sherborne and Cambridge Contemporary Art
2009
Mixed exhibitions at the Old Fire Engine House Ely, Chappel Galleries, Essex. Solo show the Jerram Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset
2010
Solo show at the Old Fire Engine House Ely
2011
Solo show at the Jerram Gallery, Sherborne
2013
Solo show at the Jerram Gallery
2015
Solo show at the Jerram Gallery
2017
Solo show at the Jerram Gallery
2018
Inheritance at Norwich Castle Museum
   

Pictures in the collections of The National Trust; The Nationwide Buildings Society; Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford; Norwich School of Art and Design; the Sainsbury Centre loan collection.

COMMISSIONS
 
1994  Distemper paintings for the Restaurant at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk for the National Trust (completed 1997)
1996 Painting of screenwork for Oakham Church.
2004 Altarpiece in eight panels for Bishop Alcock’s Chapel, Ely Cathedral
2011 New reredos and altar in wrought iron in the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral
2012  Painted decoration at the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban; processional corridors, ceiling and panels facing the choir in a setting by Luke Hughes
2014  Recreation of lost paintings and stained glass of the Egyptian Hall at Stowe House, Bucks.
2015  Font cover for Thornham Parva church.
2015  Painted panels for the baptistry of Downham Market Church
2018  painted decoration on the new Octagon altar at Ely Cathedral

PUBLICATIONS

Blickling Hall, 1987
Medieval Archaeology and Architecture at Lichfield, 1993 (Editor and contributor)
Felbrigg Hall, 1995
Ely Cathedral: Design and Meaning, 2000

Various articles and chapters in other publications including:

John Archer Ed. Art and Architecture in Victorian Manchester (1985) Jonathan Alexander and Paul Binski , Eds., Age of Chivalry: Art and Architecture in Plantagenet England (R.A. 1987)Christopher Wilson, Ed. Medieval Art and Architecture in the East Riding of Yorkshire (1986), Alan Thacker, Ed. Chester: Medieval Art Architecture and Archaeology (1998),Peter Meadows and Nigel Ramsay, Eds.,  The History of Ely Cathedral (2003),David Start and David Stocker, Eds. The Making of Grantham: the Medieval Town (2011) The Dictionary of Art, and The New Dictionary of National Biography, Architectural History, Country Life.

Ickworth: Conservation Management Plan for the National Trust.
Kelmscott Manor: Conservation Management Plan for the Society of Antiquaries 2014.
The David Parr House: Cambridge: Conservation Management Plan 2016

 

 

 
 

 

 
 
 
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