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Arts Show profiles John Knapp-Fisher

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Laura Chamberlain Laura Chamberlain | 09:58 UK time, Wednesday, 3 August 2011

This week's Radio Wales Arts Show talks to John Knapp-Fisher, an artist loved and admired for his paintings of the dramatic Welsh coastline.

Knapp-Fisher celebrates his 80th birthday this week and to mark this milestone a new exhibition of his work opens tomorrow at the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff.

Radio Wales Arts Show presenter Nicola Heywood Thomas visited Knapp-Fisher at his studio in Croesgoch, Pembrokeshire for this week's programme.

John Knapp-Fisher with Nicola Heywood Thomas at his at his studio in Croesgoch

John Knapp-Fisher with Nicola Heywood Thomas at his at his studio

Born in London in 1931, Knapp-Fisher studied graphic design and typography at Maidstone College of Art. Following his spell of National Service he worked as an exhibition designer in London and it was during this period, around 1958, that he began to concentrate on drawing and painting.

He later worked as a theatre set designer at the Theatre Royal Margate and the Castle Theatre Farnham before taking up painting full time. He moved to Pembrokeshire in 1965 and opened his studio gallery in Croesgoch two years later.

His name has since been synonymous with paintings of the Pembrokeshire coast and landscape.

John Knapp-Fisher in his studio

John Knapp-Fisher in his Croesgoch studio

In the programme his modesty comes across strongly. He talks to Nicola about his childhood, suggesting that he was far from a child genius at school:  "I think my parents were despairing of my lack of ability in most of the other subjects.

"I was quite good at English and I suppose the only two things that I've pursued all my life are writing and painting. In childhood I wasn't particularly aware of art or painting or drawing, I don't think I was better at it when I went to school."

He also notes that his father " was a brilliant draughtsman, much better than me", talks about Pembrokeshire and his love of boats, something that often strongly comes across in his paintings.

His practicality also comes across in the show, as Nicola questions him about his atypical studio that is an old converted cowshed.

He says, "People always say that you've got to have a good north light... I've never had a good north light in my life. You've got to be practical as an artist. There's no point in being airy fairy and artistic, putting a beret on and standing at a rickety easel; you've got to be very hands on."

Listen to the interview on the Radio Wales Arts Show this evening at 7pm on BBC Radio Wales. The programme will also be available on the BBC iPlayer for the following seven days.

Plus, take a look at some preview images of Knapp-Fisher's work on show at the exhibition on the Martin Tinney Gallery website.

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