We’re delighted and honoured to announce that Martin Greenland has become our Honorary President.
Martin is a highly respected, contemporary artist who lives in the South Lakes. His work has been exhibited widely both nationally and internationally. In 2003 he was Commissioned to produce a painting of the newly re-built Paternoster Square, next to St. Paul's Cathedral, London, which was presented to The Lord Mayor of London, and which now hangs in The Mansion House.
In 2006 Martin won the John Moores Painting Prize following in the footsteps of previous winners that include David Hockney, Patrick Heron, Euan Uglow and Peter Doig.
We hope that as Honorary President,Martin will help us raise the profile of the Milnthorpe Art Exhibition.
Here are a couple of Martin's pictures, together with some words he's provided for us.
Whitbarrow from Lindale, across Witherslack Bay
The Bay of Lyth
From a very, very early age, I wanted not only to be an artist but I wanted to be a painter. I was aged six, when a young man who had been a pupil of the village school I was attending, brought in his oil paintings to show the class. Drawing, painting and making was already my direction but this visit impressed me so much that being an artist became my goal. My father was an amateur painter and even my mother attended oil painting classes and I was fascinated to see the gradual build-up of their paintings from day to day or week to week. The smell of oil paint in my father’s study on cold mornings was all part of the attraction of this very grown-up thing to do. It was so much a grown-up thing that when, at the age of eight, I was taken to a department store to spend a gift token I had been given, instead of buying the toy lorry I had so much wanted, my father steered me to a wooden box-set of oil paints and brushes and this gesture, being given the opportunity to do an adult thing at such a young age felt like such an honour, I didn’t resist it. Of course, oil paint in those days was for me a difficult thing to handle though I still have some of those earliest works and for my age, they are fine. Skipping a few years when my desire to be an architect came and went (mainly because at the age of seventeen I finally hit teenage rebellion and I dropped out of A levels), my interest in design was diverted when on (two year) foundation, my tutors, for whom I had great respect, and still do, suggested, seriously, that I should study fine art instead. It was a big decision to make because I knew that life as an artist would be difficult. There are no jobs for artists and even though there are commissions, the artist is still a lone, self-employed figure.
Whilst studying fine art, a visiting lecturer told us the realistic fact that only one percent of art students go on to become successful artists (I think that it is now half a percent) I became even more determined to become the thing that deep inside I always knew I would become. It is now thirty-two years since leaving art college and I have never stopped painting or making money from selling my paintings. It has not always been a living but I have always exhibited. My first solo show was when I was just twenty, before I went on to study fine art but my first proper commercial exhibition, i.e. one where it was important for me to sell work, was in 1987, a year and a half after leaving college. At that time I was subsidised by my parents while part-time jobs also boosted my income but for much more than twenty years, being involved with a number of galleries and exhibitions, I have been, using that suspect word, ‘professional’; being a painter and working mainly with oil – doing those things I knew I wanted to do when I was six.
I have lived and worked in Cumbria and the Lake District since 1985. I never actually chose to live here. My parents had moved here in 1983 and I came ‘home’ after college, intending to only stay for a few months, always (for a while) intending to move on. When I was studying, a tutor said that we should do our two years in London or as he put it, ‘the London thing’. I know that in a way he was right but even though I attempted to take a post-graduate degree in London, it never happened. Interviewers at the Slade in 1990 convinced me that I had already developed my own strong language in painting and didn’t need London in that way; a way that would change me.
My involvement with the capital has been in working with galleries and staging exhibitions there. I often wonder how my life would have turned out if I had gone to London to study or live; I am the only John Moores winner who has never done ‘the London thing’. My painting and what it contains has become inextricably interwoven with the influence of this northern landscape where I live, from its broad to its intimate spaces. My reinvention of often very personal places has become a tribute to this world-famous landscape and my knowledge and understanding of it has added to all the other places I have known, whether real or in my head.
It is fortunate that I have always had just the right amount of naivety and self-belief (and a certain amount of ego) to push myself onwards and know that what I am doing is significant."