A Leighton House Museum exhibition
From Jamaica to Notting Hill – Rudi Patterson’s visions in colour Friday 4 April 2014 – Friday 13 June 2014 Press view 11:00am 1 April 2014 Private view 6:00pm 3 April 2014 Leighton House Museum, W14 Tickets £5 – reductions for National Trust Members www.leightonhouse.co.uk “I’m inspired by natural beauty and harmony, I love to paint.” – Rudi Patterson
Leighton House Museum presents the first major retrospective of one of the UK’s leading black artists, Jamaican born Rudi Patterson (1933 – 2013), 3 April – 13 June 2014. Featuring many previously unexhibited works from the artist’s private collection this unique showing explores Rudi Patterson’s unique legacy. From his mid twenties Rudi lived in England, latterly in a series of West London council flats. From these eyries Rudi composed hundreds of evocations of mostly Caribbean scenes. Vivid montane landscapes, plantation villages , luxuriant tropical vegetation and crops, beaches with rivers flowing onto them… all somehow visualised from the urban jungle of West London, specifically the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The exhibition will be opened by BBC presenter Moira Stuart, who knew Rudi Patterson.
In early life Rudi Patterson was a successful international model and actor. Leighton House has collaborated with the Black Cultural Archives in Lambeth to tell the fascinating story of this cross cultural figure – painter, potter, thespian.
Patterson’s prolific output is testament to his tremendous creativity and interest in experimentation. He was self-taught and this Leighton House Museum exhibition focuses on Patterson’s landscapes and features works in gouache, watercolours and oils, although Patterson also painted abstract and linear works, as well as creating many ceramic and mixed media pieces. Working in an ‘intuitive’ style, Patterson’s landscapes
are notable for their potent use of colour. Mostly painted in three council flats where Patterson lived, in Finborough Road, Hesketh Place and the Ernő Goldfinger designed block adjacent to the Trellick Tower, the landscapes reflect the tropical vistas of St Thomas in the lea of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, around Patterson’s birthplace in the sugar plantation village of Duckenfield. Patterson made his view of Notting Hill seem Caribbean by placing hibiscus flowers in the foreground.
Rudi Patterson’s works have been widely exhibited all over the world since his first London show in 1970, including many one man exhibitions in London ,and from Ocho Rios , Jamaica to Melbourne , as well as group shows in New York, Europe and the Middle East . Most of the paintings exhibited at Leighton House, however were found at Patterson’s flat following his death from cancer in 2013, are shown courtesy of his Estate and consequently have never been shown in public before.
Patterson arrived in West London as one of the post Windrush immigrants to Britain from Jamaica in the 1950s- his first ambition was to perform on stage rather than on canvas . As part of the explosion of Caribbean culture in West London, which gave birth to the Notting Hill Carnival, Patterson became a well known figure on the London scene in the 60s and 70s. As a talented stage and screen actor, Patterson appeared in early editions of Z Cars, The Professionals and in Two A Penny opposite Cliff Richard as well as appearing in the Rolling Stones documentary film Sympathy For The Devil. He worked and modelled for Mr Fish and was a frontman for a British Airways advertising campaign – groundbreaking for a black model of that era.
His theatre credits include travelling in rep with the groundbreaking gay-themed The Boys In The Band, appearing in the world premiere of Michael Tippett’s opera The Ice Break. In the States he was friends with Ashford and Simpson, Maya Angelou , back home he was a regular at Freddie Mercury’s parties. Freddie had a collection o f his work and Rudi’s paintings were collected by a number of other high profile celebrities including Andy Williams, Twiggy and Stevie Wonder, as well as by Jamaican dignitaries. But really he was happiest just to see his paintings on the walls of his friends, his ceramics on their tables.
His dynamic personality is evident in his vividly colourful works, although his true potential as an artist was seemingly unlocked through personal adversity. After breaking his neck in a water-skiing accident in the early 70s Patterson was confined to
bed for months of convalescence, during which he painted incessantly. He learnt to walk again and became a prolific artist.
The exhibition is co-curated by the broadcaster, journalist and horticulturalist Wesley Kerr (who is also the co-executor of Rudi’s estate), and by Novelette-Aldoni Stewart, the conservator and cultural activist who documented the Rudi Patterson collection after his death, initially as a volunteer for the Black Cultural Archives, which is also lending photos, press cuttings and Rudi Patterson’s easel, all generously gifted by Patterson’s son, Orville ‘Junior’ Patterson.
Wesley Kerr said “Rudi had an intensely powerful visual memory and sorting out the immense amount of work he left behind has thrown new light on his life, his great skill and the evolution of his oeuvre. For this exhibition we are rightly focusing on his landscapes. There’s no doubt that like all true artists he forged his own style and his best work is touched by genius, especially his instinctive use of colour and his powerful evocation of place.”
Novellette-Aldoni Stewart said “When asked to document and assess the condition of Rudi Patterson’s work, I initially became involved because of his reputation as a painter amongst people within the diaspora and because it was an opportunity to chronicle the work of a Black artist and his contribution to the contemporary art scene. Viewing his body of work, his use of imagery and colours and his progression as a painter over four decades, I soon saw that Rudi had meticulously crafted and honed a remarkable style. He created an enchanting dialogue between his roots and the society in which he lived."
Daniel Robbins, Senior Curator of Leighton House Museum said “The experience of walking into Rudi's flat not long after his death and being confronted by evidence of such a vibrant and productive talent was both moving and exciting. The work demanded to be shared with a wider audience and I am delighted that Leighton House has this opportunity; presenting the story of Rudi's extraordinary life and work and celebrating the part that Caribbean culture continues to play in the life of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and beyond.”
From Jamaica to Notting Hill – Rudi Patterson’s Vision in Colour 4 April – 13 June at Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ. Press private view, Tuesday 1st April, 11.00am
For access to press private view, further information, interviews or images please contact Maxim Bendall or Tani Burns: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com or 07540 524928.
END Notes to Editors
Rudolph ( Rudi ) Alexander Patterson Born Duckenfield Jamaica September 1933. Died North Kensington, July 2013. Migrated to UK late 1950s. Dual British/Jamaican nationality. Early 1960s took summer classes at RADA. Member Equity. Actor, model. Credits include BBC TV Z Cars 1963/4. Sympathy for the Devil 1968. The Boys in the Band 1970 – Dublin and UK tour . 1970 71. Two a Penny 1970 . The Ice Break. Royal Opera House 1977. ITV. The Professionals ; 1979.
Already painting from the mid Sixties, he later takes ceramics classes in West London. Water-skiing accident circa 1973 after which he dedicates himself full-time to art.
Exhibitions. Group and One man* 1970 Arts Theatre Club London. And 1977. 1972 Stars on Canvas. Keith Prowse Agency Group Show 1976 Hammond Lloyd Gallery London. Westminster Arts Festival ( group) . 1977 London Art Gallery, Antwerp, Belgium 1978 Jamaican High Commission, London. House of Fraser , Glasgow Cathedral Museum Mdina, Malta. 1979 International Grolla D’Ora Art Exhibition, Venice.
Grolla D’Ora Art Exhibition Award, representing. Art and Fashion inn Wedlock . Portman International Hotel, London
1980 Air Jamaica Exhibition ( Group). Neal Street Gallery ( Group ) 1981 Third World Art for LSE Fund Regency Intercontinental Hotel. Bahrain Pictorial Homage of Spanish Culture, Wylma Wayne Gallery, Bond Street, London
Commonwealth Institute, Bhownagree Gallery* 1982 The People’s Gallery London. New York Coalition of Concerned Jamaicans (Group ) . Jacob Javits Building New York, New York. Arts and Crafts Exhibtion, Brookyn, New York 1983 Netherbow Arts Centre, Edinburgh Westbourne Gallery, London* Black Art Gallery, London 1984 Cae Gallery Melbourne, Australia.* Seal Club Gallery, Melbourne, Australia* 1985 Carmichael Fine Art, London The Ice House, Holland Park , London New York ,5th Annual Art Exhibition, presented by The New York Coalition of
Concerned Jamaicans 1986 Bhownagree Gallery. `Reflections’ Commonwealth Institute , London 1989 Westbourne Gallery* 1989 and 1990; Art London at Olympia and Portobello Festival 1991 Harmony Hall, Ocho Rios, Jamaica.* 1991 UNHCR Auction Selfridges 1992 Art in the Workplace . BBC White City “Looking Back” Rainmaker Gallery, Didsbury Manchester * 1998 Mutual Gallery Hammershith “Out of Many One Vision”* 2002 Cromwell Hospital Gallery 2006 Sheldon Square Gallery, Paddington ( ceramics) 2008 Willesden Green Gallery 2011 Brixton pop up exhibition at The Effra Hall Tavern “ Visions of Colour “ * 2013 Artisan Gallery , Willesden. Advent Show
Rudi was a proud and patriotic Jamaican and Briton, with dual citizenship. He was active in the Caribbean Crafts Circle, the Georgian Society of Jamaica and an early supporter of Black Cultural Archives. His son Orville `Junior’ Patterson, helped nurse him through his final illness and lives in South London.
Wesley Kerr Wesley Kerr is a freelance broadcaster, writer and commentator. He is also a keen historian and horticulturalist. He is a Board Member of The Royal Parks Agency and
from 2007 until March 2014 has chaired the London Committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, involved him in thousands of projects across the metropolis. He has written numerous articles, made thousands of broadcasts and worked in 40 countries. At the BBC among his many positions he was Newsnight’s Arts and Media Correspondent in the Eighties, Royal Correspondent in the Nineties and a BBC1 consumer show presenter and horticultural and travel correspondent in the Noughties. He was conceived in Middlesex, Jamaica and born in Middlesex, England. He was educated at Andover Grammar School, and Winchester College. He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge with a BA Hons (History) and an MA.
Novelette-Aldoni Stewart Novelette-Aldoni Stewart came to the UK in 1991. She was born in Jamaica and raised in New York . She has an MSc in Conservation, a MALD (Law and Diplomacy), an MA in Arts Administration , a BA in Liberal Arts and has worked at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, the Horniman Museum and Gardens, the Black Cultural Archives, and the British Museum, amongst other institutions.
Leighton House Museum Leighton House Museum is the former home of the Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). The only purpose-built studio-house open to the public in the United Kingdom, it is one of the most remarkable buildings of the nineteenth century, containing a fascinating collection of paintings and sculpture by Leighton and his contemporaries. The house is owned and operated by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Built to Leighton’s precise requirements, the house was extended and embellished over the 30 years that he lived in it. From modest beginnings it grew into a ‘private palace of art’ featuring the extraordinary Arab Hall with its golden dome, intricate mosaics and walls lined with beautiful Islamic tiles. Upstairs, Leighton’s vast painting studio was one of the sights of London, filled with paintings in different stages of completion, the walls hung with examples of his work and lit by a great north window. Many of the most prominent figures of the Victorian age were entertained in this room; including Queen Victoria herself who called on Leighton in 1859. But Leighton lived alone in his palace, occupying the house’s only bedroom on the first floor.
Black Cultural Archives BCA founded in 1981, is a national institution dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of diverse people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain. We will lead the heritage and cultural sectors and the general public towards a greater understanding and enjoyment of Black heritage. Our growing collection of original archives includes rare documents, photographs, oral history testimonies and objects dating from the second century to the present day. Through our public programmes and partnership work with other organisations we enable a variety of communities to learn and connect with this often hidden history. It will constitute a permanent record of the richness of the Black experience in Britain and be accessible to all. Black Cultural Archives is completing a major building project to open the Black Heritage Centre at the centre of Brixton, London - on Windrush Square - this summer. www.bcaheritage .org.uk
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