Winchester Art Club: Meet the artist - Stephen Harte

We spoke to some of the winning artists from this year’s Winchester Art Club exhibition  to find out a little more about their work.

This week we meet the winner of the club's Oil category - Stephen Harte.

Stephen Harte

Best in Category winner – Oil.

Congratulations Stephen on winning Best in Category for your oil painting ‘In the Garden’. Can you tell us more about the piece and your inspiration behind it?

Last summer the garden was a delight.

The meadow goes through dramatic changes and I wanted to capture it in an interesting light mid-summer with a grandchild exploring.

He is wearing an Uyghur’s hat we got 30 years ago when we went to Xinjiang in NW China. Recently we saw a photograph in The Guardian of these being worn which we showed him. The hat has special memories for us - being not long after we married.

Over years the garden has been a subject for painting. Someday we may not be there so painting is a way to enjoy the present and take the garden with us.

Tell us about your background, have you always been an artist?

I have lived in Winchester for over 40 years; my background is architecture and landscape architecture. Since I retired from Hampshire County Architects in 2007, I have developed my painting. Like any practice it is work in progress!

My areas of work include sea and landscapes which have caught my imagination - Pembrokeshire in particular. Over the year I have worked on some portraits and narratives both imagined and from photographs. As I am not commercially motivated I can follow my interests. I like doing work for charities and for friends which has included portraiture, landscapes, houses and illustrating their writing.

I think I joined Winchester Art Club almost 10 years ago.

Your winning piece was in oil, is this your usual medium?

I use most materials. I would probably use mud if that was all that was available!

I like oils. They can be used fluidly or in a more solid/opaque way. The subject helps determine the approach.

In the moment between eye and hand, possibilities appear and can take unexpected directions.

How have you found making work during a national lockdown, has this changed anything for you?

In regard to art, I miss social contact and the stimulus of art groups and I miss going to galleries, particularly in London.

I am now using digital viewing more than I would have, but there is nothing better than being up close to the real thing.

What are the most important things you need to have around you when working in your studio?

It is primarily about how I am in myself - what interests, what meaning there is and what may emerge in conversations.

Age and health play their part as does preparation, patience and starting again.

I have materials and anything further can be obtained.

I appreciate good materials if something of quality is to be attempted. However, it can be surprising what can be done with e.g. poster paints and lining paper.

The studio is warm and well lit and has a door to the garden which is useful when doing something messy.

You can see Stephen’s winning oil painting in our special Winchester Art Club feature here on Culture on Call.

The exhibition and online shop are now closed.

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