‘The studio remains a room in which I spend much of my time, with commissioned work to complete in book illustration as well as painting and drawing for future exhibitions and creativity for its own sake. Artists are often isolated in this manner, I suppose, and I have recently retired from a full-time teaching post with more time to concentrate within this studio space. However, lockdown has had a huge effect mentally which is rather difficult to measure. Like everyone else I am sure, I am deeply concerned and distracted by our extraordinary circumstances with considerable sense of uncertainty. As an external examiner at various UK universities I have academic work to complete online, where I meet staff and students, to look at their work, essays and dissertations. This is at arms length, a virtual experience, but it remains fascinating and inspiring and I very much enjoy such contact with students, lecturers, artists and designers’.
Jonathan Gibbs’ practice straddles many avenues including book illustration, drawing, painting and printmaking but all are interwoven. He has recently retired as head of illustration at Edinburgh College of Art and exhibits regularly in both Edinburgh and London. Jonathan has lived in Edinburgh for the last thirty years but grew up in Norfolk and his work still has a strong sense of mid-century English Romanticism Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Eric Ravilous and Edward Bawden have all influenced him.
A deep sensitivity to place and memory inform these paintings. Images are recorded and over laid sometimes with the sense of a window opening onto a landscape. These are carefully crafted, multi-layered works combing present observation with a life-time of images and motifs remembered. They are characterized by a strong linear rhythm, which unites the complex picture surface.
Jonathan is a superb print maker and wood engraver, working directly onto his own box wood and holly blocks which he hand engraves printing onto Japanese paper. The paintings are informed by this practice even down to his choice of oak panel as a surface for his paintings. This is primed with gesso onto which he layers the paint surface scratching back into paint layers and exploiting and manipulating line and depth with consummate skill.
Jonathan studied at the Central School of Art and the Slade School of Art. Recently he has worked for Faber and Faber, Radio Times, Routledge Publishing and Hamish Hamilton, He has produced a variety of book jacket and editorial designs, including Ulverton by Adam Thorpe and has illustrated Prada shoes and handbags. He has had elven solo shows at the Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh and we are delighted to be able to show his work in Sussex.