Between 13 and 20 June, artist Paul Butler will be undertaking the first stage of an artist in residency at Tenby Museum, which will take a year to complete and will see him return to the museum on various occasions.
Paul will be based in the stone shed adjacent to the museum, making studies of the town and its wonderfully dramatic landscape. His intention is to respond to the different conditions of weather and light as they change with the ever-shifting seasons and the studies he makes in and around the town will be developed into larger scale works at his mid Wales studio.
Paul has had many exhibitions nationally and internationally. Until 2009 he was Head of Painting and Professor of Fine Art at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. He has produced works in various mediums, ranging from sculpture to drawing and his art has taken him into the spheres of writing, curating and academia. His work is in numerous public collections including the Arts Council and the Museum of London and in many private collections including that of Booker shortlisted author Peter Ackroyd and Harry Potter villain Ralph Fiennes.
Paul says of the residency, “My ideas will undoubtedly evolve and change as the work develops, but I shall start by exploring contradiction: between rock and plastic; between the kitsch and the sublime; between the desolate cliff top and the comfortable pub; between the boatmen and the hen parties. I also have a strong sense of the huge contradictions of scale: the expanse of ocean and sky, the narrow streets and terraces of the town.”
Paul has family connections with the area. His mother’s family were farmers and horse-breeders, including pit ponies, in Penally. “Family mythology and history become curiously mixed: my great-grandfather throwing himself off Giltar Point, his body washed up in Marloes; Augustus John, whose work is represented in the museum, diving into the sea at Giltar, hitting his head on a rock and emerging a changed person; Nina Hamnett, also on show at the museum, dancing naked on the café tables of Montparnasse; my grandfather, returning form the Great war a broken man, starting a tailoring business in Tenby, which failed; my grandmother managing the Castle View Hotel. I have no doubt that this rich history will infiltrate the work that I do.
“But whilst there is an inescapable sadness about these stories, overwhelmingly my memories of Tenby are of the joy of being in the elements – swimming in the sea, running down the South Beach in the pouring rain and plunging into huge breakers. And now my children come and bring their children on holiday and the family connection continues. I hope my work will reflect this as well.
“I have done a number of residencies, most recently ‘Rothko 2009’ painting residency in Rothko’s birthplace in Latvia. I have always believed that art should be made as accessible as possible, so I am happy to have members of the public come up to me as I work and discuss the pictures as they progress.”