Hugh Dunford Wood is an artist designer, classically trained at the Ruskin School of FineArt, Oxford, in the early 1970s. He works in mixed media including painting portraits, murals, engraving on wood, metal and glass, making lino cuts and hand printing wallpapers. Now living in Dorset, Hugh’s work celebrates a rich life and takes a sideways look at tradition while being innovative and in his words “quintessentially English”.
A: You are known as an artist/ designer, how did you first start creating work?
HDW: After a classical training at Oxford, painting still lives, portraits and the nude, I apprenticed myself to Peggy Angus, who introduced me to the applied arts, lettering, design, wallpaper, and the English arts tradition, her contemporaries such as Bawden, Piper, and Ravilious, who are literary and figurative and decorators. We hand coiled pottery which we fired in Duncan Grant’s kiln at Charleston. Then I lived in Brazil, and Paris, where I found portraits, painted my pregnant wife and made shop signs. The hierarchy of the arts made no sense to me. I had a brush and I travelled with it.
A: You work across a variety of media from painting portraits to murals, engraving on wood, metal and glass even making lino cuts and hand printing wallpapers. How does your style evolve between media?
HDW: All my work is based on observation. I have over 40 bible thick sketchbooks full of drawings, a lifetime of seeing and recording. From these I can find the information to make a decorative design of plants or animals to be cut in lino and handprinted on curtains, a cushion or wallpaper. The same drawing might appear unembellished in a mural, or an engraved vase. My Collinos, or collaged lino cuts are one off prints that combine observation, decoration and imagination. The work may vary, but the balance of eye, heart and hand is the same. Why limit myself to one pigeon hole when life has so many expressions?
A: You have been exhibited across the world including the USA, Iceland and Japan. How do the reactions of you work differ from location to location?
HDW: My celebration of the human spirit cuts across national boundaries. I find rapport in many cultures, and inspiration in each of the countries I have known. And yet I still see my work as quintessentially English.
A:What are your inspirations for the subject of your work and what influences you?
HDW: I had two mentors – Peggy Angus, who taught me the democracy of applied arts – and film maker David Lean, who showed me how to look around me. I was fortunate to live with Shakespeare for several years when I was Artist in Residence first with the Royal Shakespeare Company, then with London’s Globe Theatre when it opened in 2000. Shakespeare encompasses all emotions and all states of mens’ lives. I have been working for a year now on A Constellation of Influences which is a homage to all my inspirations and influences and can be seen on my website.
A:Where do you see your work going in the future?
HDW: My designs will have to be produced on a more commercial footing as my Collinos become more sought after and exhibited. The Collinos are a perfect summation of all I do, and the world explored in them is endlessly engrossing.
His work is also showing now at The Chelsea Arts Club, followed by Paul Smith, and at the Untitled Art Fair, Chelsea Town Hall in May 2015.
To see his listing in the Artists’ Directory in Aesthetica Magazine issue 60 pick up a copy at www.aestheticamagazine.com
1. The Elements Courtesy of the Artist
2. The Redemption Narrative Courtesy of the Artist
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