CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Derbyshire Life today CLICK HERE

Inspiring West Bridgford artist David Supper

PUBLISHED: 10:28 20 April 2015 | UPDATED: 10:28 20 April 2015

David Supper

David Supper

as submitted

Meet the local artist whose thought-provoking paintings are on view in Somercotes this month

Fire Escape NYCFire Escape NYC

We are in a room on the sixth floor of a hotel in New York. The window of our room frames a view across the street of a brownstone apartment block, whose slab-like façade is enlivened by an external fire escape that zigzags down the wall in alternate diagonals and horizontals. Although the apartment block almost fills our field of vision, we have an oblique glimpse of a narrow alleyway, where a shadowy figure can be seen walking towards a bar. It is evening and all but three of the rooms are in darkness. A bright light bulb can be seen suspended from the ceiling of one room and a potted plant can be picked out on the window sill of the second illuminated room. Through the blind of the third room, we can see the silhouette of a young woman.

When David Supper removed the large painting of ‘Fire Escape, NYC’ that he had been holding up for my inspection and replaced it in a stack of several other pictures in the studio of his house in West Bridgford, I told the artist that his painting had taken me back to a visit I had made with my family to New York a few years ago. Our hotel room on West 24th Street had given us a view of an apartment block that was uncannily similar to the one in David’s painting.

Expressing delight at my reaction to his picture, David said: ‘I always try to ensure that the viewer is drawn into my paintings and made to feel that they are actually there in whatever scene I am depicting. For the same reason, I usually paint on a large scale, allowing the image to fill the field of vision of the viewer and concentrate their attention. This painting is four feet high and four feet wide.’

David’s wife Briony, a former actor and an enthusiastic supporter and promoter of her husband’s art, was equally pleased with my response, not least because she had been responsible for suggesting the theme for this particular painting, which will be featured in David’s one-man show at the Leabrooks Gallery, in Somercotes, from 19th to 30th April. She had even come up with ideas for some of the little cameos in the picture.

Ice (SY Aurora)Ice (SY Aurora)

David has used photographs from various sources as the basis for different parts of the painting. However, the composition of the ‘film-noir’ like scene in the alleyway was created entirely from his imagination. Following his normal practice, the artist has achieved a pure matt effect by applying five or six layers of acrylic paint to each area of the picture.

The use of acrylic paint and flat areas of pure colour had been popularised by artists such as David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield and Allen Jones at the time David Supper was receiving his art training, which he undertook at Berkshire College of Art and then at Manchester College of Art and Design. After leaving college, he moved to Israel, where he worked as a graphic designer for 18 months, before returning to Manchester to take a teaching qualification.

David’s first teaching post was in Nottingham, but he quickly moved on to the Forest School in Berkshire, where he had once been a pupil and where he would spend the rest of his career as a teacher. In due course, he became the school’s Head of Art and, for the next 17 years, he ran a flourishing department and added Photography as a new A-level subject alongside Art.

Recalling that his own artistic endeavours had been largely abandoned during his time as a teacher, David said, ‘The demands of my job meant that I had very little time to paint, especially as my use of pure colour means that I need to paint during daylight hours. However, I was able to pursue other creative activities in the evenings, particularly through my involvement in various drama companies both as director and actor. I was also a founder member of a poetry writers’ group called Serpent’s Tooth and I have written a good deal of poetry over the years, some of which has been included in various anthologies. But, after putting aside my first love of painting for such a long period, I decided at the age of 60 that I would finally give up my teaching career so that I could become a full-time artist. Drama and even poetry were largely abandoned so that I could make up for lost time.’

Sound and Light Festival, BrisbaneSound and Light Festival, Brisbane

David has certainly made up for those lost years as an artist. He now has a portfolio of more than 60 large paintings. The aim of all these works is to take the viewer into the scene that is depicted and to allow them to make their own interpretation of the subject matter. His style has remained consistent throughout, particularly in the use of flat areas of colour. As I looked through the paintings, I recalled a quotation attributed to Manet, who said, ‘There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one beside the other.’

Most of David’s pictures have a serene or even surreal quality about them. In some paintings, the composition is used as a stage set in which a found object, such as a shell or a piece of bogwood, is placed centre-stage. People are rarely present in the pictures, except in the form of silhouettes or shadows. One particularly clever painting called ‘Self-portrait as a Shadow’ shows the artist’s shadow cast onto the patio of the rooftop café at the Tate Gallery in St Ives. The view of the sea from this lofty vantage point is represented by simple horizontal bands of colour, but a metallic patio chair is painted with highly realistic and shimmering precision.

One picture that does feature a clear depiction of a human figure is ‘Ice (SY Aurora)’. It illustrates a close-up view of an iceberg from the deck of a ship. The simple geometric forms of the deck and the railings make a dramatic contrast with the jagged contours of the enormous iceberg that looms up menacingly alongside the vessel. David said, ‘This particular picture was inspired by a press cutting about the experiences of Ernest Shackleton during his voyages on the “Aurora.”’

Serenity, rather than menace, pervades the entire composition in a striking coastal view called ‘Reflections’, whereas symmetry is the hallmark of ‘Sound and Light Festival, Brisbane’. This is one of David’s most decorative paintings and was worked up from photographs taken when the artist was on a visit to his son, who lives in Australia.

ShellShell

The last picture that caught my eye in David’s studio was ‘Bishop’s Palace, Albi’, in which the small silhouettes of two human figures are cleverly used to emphasize the vastness and overwhelming presence of the palace.

I had been drawn into ‘Fire Escape. NYC’ because the picture had reminded me of the visit that I made to New York, whereas the painting of Albi gave me the sensation of walking the streets and experiencing the monumental architecture of a French city that I plan to visit this summer. Thanks to David, I feel that I am there already. n

David Supper’s exhibition ‘Hard-edge Realism’ will be at Leabrooks Gallery, Somercotes, Derbyshire, from 19th to 30th April. David’s paintings can also be viewed on his website 
www.withspaceinmind.com

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Derbyshire Life and Countryside visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Derbyshire Life and Countryside staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Derbyshire Life and Countryside account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Andrew Griffiths meets Jim Dixon, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Peak District National Park.

Read more

Community spirit is alive and well in this charming, characterful village five miles north of Derby where residents pulled together to rescue their 400-year-old inn

Read more

David Marley discovers how Jacci Woodcock, an inspirational Derbyshire activist who is dying from cancer, is leading a national campaign to secure better employment protection for terminally ill people

Read more

Kevin Palmer talks to Mike Perry, who is retiring after a lifetime of public service

Read more

As we commemorate the 1918 Armistice, Pat Ashworth looks into the poignant local projects that have brought to life the effect of the 1914-1918 conflict on our ancestors’ lives

Read more

Adrian Farmer can certainly be said to ‘put his money where his mouth is’, backing his role as Heritage Coordinator for the DVMWHS with support for Belper’s history and heritage.

Read more

Gamekeepers and the ‘ton up’ boys learned to live in harmony – and for a time they somehow made it work!

Read more

David Marley talks to Ashley Fulwood the Derbyshire-born chief executive of OCD-UK who swapped the corporate city trading world for a life leading a national health charity.

Read more

Hartington Rural Social Group in Derbyshire is celebrating after being awarded a grant of £1,000 to help fund new seating for the elderly, as part of rural energy provider Calor’s annual funding scheme.

Read more

Sally Mosley scans her bookshelf for a brief round-up of Peak visitors across the ages who were inspired to celebrate its people and places.

Read more
Peak District

Lissa Cook finds out about the new experimental Active4Life initiative which aims to help communities to get up and about.

Read more

Tinnitus sufferers are being invited to use a new online, sound matching tool to help better understand their type of tinnitus and the potential treatments available to them.

Read more

Mary Berry talks to Pat Ashworth about why she loves the Chatsworth Country Fair

Read more
Chatsworth

John Wright reveals what became of some of the county’s first convict colonists

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Subscribe or buy a mag today

Topics of Interest


Local Business Directory


Property Search