Well-known local artist Ray Balkwill shares his passion for the…
Marine House at Beer opened nineteen years ago. Michael Morgan was one of the first artists we invited to exhibit. He was bemused that a start-up gallery in an off the beaten track fishing village in East Devon could hope to sell any of his paintings. But he tolerated our enthusiasm and agreed to exhibit. Unsurprisingly he became and remained the gallery’s leading artist.
Sadly Michael passed away in 2014 after a long illness, but his legacy lives on amongst his many collectors and fans.
In response to this growing interest, Marine House, as the centre for his work, has, over the last two years re- acquired fifty outstanding paintings which we are making available. They reflect the evolution of Michael’s style from the late eighties until 2012 when we staged his last exhibition.
Michael Morgan is one of few contemporary artists who evolved a compositional style which broke new ground in the world of watercolour painting. His delight had always been the upland landscape in Britain, but also in Tuscany. Remote hillsides, distant mountains and isolated buildings in these settings became his trademark.
It would have been easy for Michael, given his graphic skills, to simply craft traditional watercolours which are normally applied with wet brushes to paper. He turned the process on its head painting more dryly and with bolder colours on paper made impervious with a gesso base. He further embarked on playing with perspective with heavily worked foregrounds and vertical paths leading you into the composition. The results are paintings filled with subtle surprises. They draw in the viewer and evoke memories of places visited and enjoyed. While, for example, they capture the mood of Dartmoor or Chianti or the coast, they are not usually paintings of a specific view, but an interpretation of the mood and heartbeat of landscape as Michael perceives it. One of the great enjoyments viewing these landscapes is in deciding where you believe the setting to be!
Armed with sketches outlining intriguing buildings or upland profiles, Michael brought his compositions together in his studio where he applied his touch of “fairy dust” to produce paintings which, although small, have a charisma and intensity which outweigh most larger works by other artists. Michael Morgan has as a result achieved high acclaim internationally and his innovations have been much emulated. His influence on the world of British watercolours remains strong.
We have produced a full colour catalogue of these painting. Please contact Marine House on 01297 625257 to receive one. They are also on our web an you are invited to attend the opening day from 11.00am on Saturday 22 April. You can visit the Marine House at Beer website here.