An eclectic collection of the art and works of Phillip Richardson
I was about seven or eight when my parents gave me a wonderful birthday present – a microscope. I still have it. It was very small – but so was I. I looked at hair roots and onion skins. Then my father showed me how to catch a daphnia and let it swim in and out of focus in it’s drop of water. A giant. But how can anything so very small be alive, have life and maybe thoughts…? “Can I keep it, Dad?“, “No, but one way to keep it would be to draw it”. So I did, sort of, and still do.After graduating from Chelsea School of Art I went to Sussex University where I studied to be a teacher of fine art and history of art. On leaving Sussex I had several jobs: I worked a bit in animation; I illustrated a few books – Usborne Publishing asked me to illustrate a few pages in the new series of children’s natural history guides. Draw insects and make money? Fantastic. Being allowed to draw and paint insects for money was perfect for me. Unfortunately, income did not match my happiness nor my bank manager’s expectations. It was when this most amiable of men asked me in the nicest possible way whether I was banking with him or he with me, that the more stable career of teaching suddenly seemed wise.
After a few years teaching in London I found myself at Friends School Saffron Walden in charge of the Art Department where, since 1978, I have worked until my retirement in 2013. Teaching has allowed me time for my own work but, perhaps, just as importantly it kept me fully involved with the ideas and developments in the art world.Saffron Walden is less than an hour from London with it’s galleries, museums, exhibitions, art events and young students want to see them all which we did and hopefully has left me broadminded and receptive. My own work has moved much more towards landscape with a growing interest in people. Drawing and painting have been my main media but I’ve always made prints as well. I live in a small hamlet surrounded by wooded farmland and footpaths. So, natural history is on my doorstep. My love of insects and their friends has never faded.
Trying to understand natural history, landscape and man’s relationship to these has become increasingly central to my thinking. I have just moved into a new studio and alongside it I’m fitting out a print workshop, so, exciting times ahead.