Page 27

about a painter before being altered to feature a photographer, portrayed by David Hemmings. Brian’s work was also used in several film sets such as Karel Reisz’s Morgan - A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), Robert Freeman’s The Touchables (1968) and Michael Ritchie’s The Candidate (1972), which starred Robert Redford. Brian knew most of the artists from that era including Richard Smith, Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, David Hockney, Joe Tilson, Peter Phillips, Allen Jones and Derek Boshier. Like him, many were from workingclass families and were the first to benefit from the educational reforms that had made the ‘60s social and artistic revolution possible. Swinging London was, in many ways, set in motion by the post-war Education Acts that gave working class people access to free higher education for the first time in history. Brian admits, ‘I could never have attended art school for four years unless it had been free.’ Born in Yeovil in 1936, his mother died following his birth, so he was raised in Tintinhull by his grandparents until the age of 11 when he went to live with his father, who had remarried, in Montacute, Somerset. Thinking he might become an architect, Brian attended Yeovil School of Art for four years from 1952, where he met fellow artist Derek Boshier and discovered a love of illustration and print-making. In 1956, he was conscripted into the army for two years’ National Service, which he mainly spent touring the country as a racing cyclist for the army team. Following this, in 1958, he began a 10-month teachertraining course at Goldsmith’s College in London and then spent a year as a secondary school teacher in High Wycombe before returning to London and sharing a flat in Earl’s Court with Derek Boshier and John Selway, both of whom were studying at the Royal College of Art. In 1960 Rice met with Boshier and Peter Jones near Malaga and the three hitch-hiked to the Sahara Desert. The experience of travelling with other artists confirmed Brian’s desire to be a painter. He then cycled back from Gibraltar to the UK and spent the winter evenings painting in the chicken shed in his parents’ garden while working as a part-time as a gardener. He returned to London in early 1962, to Fulham, where he made a series of paintings in black, red and white, using a pared-down vocabulary of U-shapes, circles and chevrons, symmetrical in composition and inspired by ‘the heraldry of the road sign’ as well as the underlying principles of the Bauhaus philosophy and Russian Constructivism. Rice showed his new works

with The London Group and the Free Painters Group in 1962, then at the pioneering New Vision Centre Gallery at Marble Arch where, in 1964, he showed the first in his series of modular paintings composed of square canvases of equal dimensions, in various formations. He started making screen-prints in 1964, and was spotted by American entrepreneur Eugene Schuster, who showed Rice’s work at his Graphic Arts Gallery, first in Grosvenor Street and then in Bond Street. That led to Brian getting paid to produce a dozen prints a year, which then went on travelling shows across the UK and the US. Throughout this period, Brian also taught evening classes at the South Kensington Evening Institute and, in 1966, started teaching one day a week at Brighton Polytechnic (now University), something which would continue until 2001. He was also chairman of the Printmakers Council of Great Britain from 1974 to 1977. He had successful exhibitions in 1970 at galleries in Italy and Japan but was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the art world so, in 1971, he bought a cottage in Lyme Regis where he spent more and more time. In 1972 he jointly published The English Sunrise book with photographer Tony Evans, which was immediately hailed as a landmark in British book design, winning several major national prizes. However, in 1975 he suffered a crisis of confidence and abandoned painting as a career and left London for good. In 1978 he and his partner bought a 50-acre sheep farm on the flank of Eggardon Hill, the ancient hill fort just outside Bridport. He spent the next five years raising sheep and restoring the 17th century farmhouse, but continued teaching at Brighton. It was many years before Brian returned to painting full time and it wasn’t until 1995 that he had his next exhibition at the Meeting House in Ilminster, after which his career began to take off again. He had a very successful show at the Redfern Gallery, London in 2014 and now shows at the Belgrave Gallery in St Ives and the Art Stable in Dorset. There will be a retrospective exhibition of Brian’s work at RAMM Exeter (Royal Albert Memorial Museum) in 2020. His full portfolio can be viewed on his websites. brianrice.co.uk brianrice.info theartstable.co.uk belgravestives.co.uk bridporttimes.co.uk | 27

Profile for Sherborne & Bridport Times

Bridport Times February 2019  

Featuring Helen and David Aupperlee of Broadoak Coffee, What's On, Arts & Culture, History, Wild Dorset, Outdoors, Archaeology, Food & Drin...

Bridport Times February 2019  

Featuring Helen and David Aupperlee of Broadoak Coffee, What's On, Arts & Culture, History, Wild Dorset, Outdoors, Archaeology, Food & Drin...