Artist Q&A: Vernon Holt

Artist Vernon Holt began as a framer and gallery owner in London and the South East before concentrating on drawing and painting full time from 2011.  Vernon is exhibiting at Artists United, the annual exhibition of works for sale by local artists at the Foundry, Lewes.  The private view is tonight (Thursday 3 July) and closes on Sunday 6 July.

'Margarita 1956', Vernon Holt

‘Margarita 1956’, Vernon Holt

What are you doing today?

Today I am preparing for the “Artists United” (Lewes) show. Ordinarily, I try and draw something every day, just my surroundings or whatever.

Describe where you do most of your creative work.

For smaller works, I have a studio overlooking the garden. Larger sizes, above 6′ for instance, are painted on the lawn or larger room. Invariably, paint lands on the carpet!

What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?

I have just returned after a couple of weeks in the Puglia region of Italy. The colours, heat, antiquity and flavours remain clearly in my memory. Much of this will surface at various points in time in paintings.

What are the key themes in your work?

The key theme in all of my work, is ‘Time’. For me, this means memories and retained feelings, my own experiences. I use meditative techniques and sometimes dreams to ‘access areas’ of my senses, that I wouldn’t necessarily obtain in other ways.

No.15 'Ightham Mote' Vernon Holt

No.15 ‘Ightham Mote’ Vernon Holt

What would you like people to notice about your work?

My hope is that someone observing a painting or a print of mine, finds some common ground in themselves and it. This does occur at times. I reject as much as possible though, overtly representational marks, (although they do appear!) because this could pin down too firmly a perceived idea to the viewer. I wrestle with this, constantly. Even so, I draw figuratively, and often it is clear in my prints what is what. Here is the paradox of being an artist.



What attracts you to the medium you work in?

I use pencil, charcoal, inks, acrylic and oil. The immediacy of working, capturing something intangible, is most attractive to me. Acrylic on canvas enables this well.

'No.26 Ostuni, early June' Vernon Holt

‘No.26 Ostuni, early June’ Vernon Holt

What equipment could you not do without?

The loss of my memory entirely, would be the greatest loss, I feel.

Who or what inspires you?

Among such an enormous choice of artist; Sir Howard Hodgkin resounds with me greatly. But choosing a favourite amongst so many, very difficult.

Animals rarely fail to astonish, their perception of us, and interaction with us is a wonder.


How is your art effected by living in this area?

Sussex ‘space’ inspires me. As does the underlying history, almost everywhere. Back to Time, once more.

What’s your favourite thing do to locally?

My girlfriend and I regularly walk the Downs. Firle, Caburn, Cissbury and Chanctonbury Rings, being particular favourites. However, rather like any other “favourite” question, the choice is unlimited.

What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?

The V & A has been my constant companion for 30 years. When living in London, I would visit weekly, now resident in Sussex it is a much less frequent treat. For treat it is, a most splendid place of art and design.

If you could own one piece of art, what would it be and why?

Tricky, but I think I would have ‘The Cat’, by Duncan Grant. (1939) or ‘Big Lawn’ (2008-10) by Howard Hodgkin. The why? Hmmm…. Big Lawn for it’s lasting impact and influence on me, The cat, I saw last Sunday at Charleston, wonderful.

If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?

JMW Turner probably. His ‘excursions’ into light, his business sense, just for starters.

Who do you think is the most underrated artist?

William ‘Bill’ Hudson of Norfolk.

'No.20 tree fishing, Barnes' Vernon Holt

‘No.20 tree fishing, Barnes’ Vernon Holt

What’s your favorite colour?

Red (I think)

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