Meet Bill Jacklin RA

We are delighted to have Bill Jacklin on board for the Art on a Ukulele fundraiser at Art on a Postcard. A born observer, Bill began his career drawing impressions. From a very young age he was processing his environment and depicting life through the medium of drawing. In one interview he expresses how he believes some of the best pieces he ever did were ones of his mother during the last days of her life, Woman in a Bed, 1980,or sketches of his father in a hospital bed, Man with a Bib, 1980. 

Woman in a Bed 1980 - Bill Jacklin RA 
Man with a Bib 1980 - Bill Jacklin 

Evident in his art is an interest in representing places that are vibrant and full of people, perhaps a penchant more common to those who like him are born in big crowded cities. He is someone we could call a modern day flaneur; an artist who depicts his surroundings with collected detachment. 

A graphic design graduate of Walthamstow School of Art and painting graduate of the Royal College of Art, Bill has taught at Chelsea, Hornsey and the Royal College of Art and is currently living and working in New York.Bill’s rich artistic training is visible in the broad scope of his work. Over the years he has approached a variety of subjects through a multitude of mediums, such as graphics, painting and 3-Dimensional art. A lot of his earlier work demonstrates a refusal of the traditional, European sense of the picture plane. Rocking My Blues Away, is a black and white abstract graphic print, made using the mezzotint method. At a time when Bill was showing particular interest in American graphic artists of the pop movement like Robert Rauschenberg, this print shows him focused on exploring the relationship between shade, light and abstract form.

Bill has always been concerned with exploring the changing nature of light and geometry in his practice and he later began to abandon abstraction and approach these interests through depictions of city life. Wollman Rink I is a comic cosmopolitan scene of a crowd of people skating on an ice ring. Similar in many ways to Felix Vallotton’s famous nineteenth century depictions of The Charge, in Wollman Rink I the individuality of the subjects in the image is traded for an overriding sense of public chaos conveyed by this swirling whirlwind of bodies. In this image Bill explores the theme of public space in all its charming ugliness. By playing with light and choosing to depict each figure with their own shadow, Bill multiplies the figures in the crowd creating an even greater sense of noise and movement.

Similarly, when Bill works with paint and colour his loose and softening poetic brush strokes provide the melody to his busy scenes of public living. In the Bathers II the figures move in asymmetrical directions but the quality of the paint – the blurred lines and soft tones – turn the figures into shapes that fall and bend over one another in harmony, providing an undulating rhythm to a vibrant depiction of life at the sea. Bill’s particular way of capturing people indulging in leisurely activities recall paintings by Seurat, who’s palette and technique conjure up similar dreamlike scenarios.

Bill Jacklin captures his particular perceptual experience through paying attention to how light falls on the subject matter. He explores the capacity light has in bringing subjects in or out of focus, twisting forms and skewing vision. In this way he finds a balance in making the spectator aware both of what is being represented and of the process of representation. His depictions are therefore neither straightforward representations nor forced exercises in colour and form and succeed in conveying a sense of the artist as detached observer.

We are looking forward to seeing how Bill Jacklin approaches the Art on a Ukulele subject seen as he has worked in so many different styles. Please join us to find out more by signing up to our mailing list (at the bottom of the page) to receive updates about this project and find out about our crowdfunding campaign, the rewards we are offering and be part of the process over the next few months.   

About the writer
Katherine is 22 year old writer based in London. She graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art and is an advocate for anything made or done by women. If she’s not devouring books and drinking cups of strong black coffee in downward facing dog, she’s fighting the patriarchy through interviewing women artists or giving you her heartfelt feminist opinion. She believes that the key to life is to be constantly interested in the women around you, only when we are mesmerised by the existence of each other can we truly unleash our greatest human potential. 

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