A 40 year history of working directly with John Piper, Patricia Jordan Evans, director of Bohun Gallery, is well-placed to throw light on one of the most highly regarded artists of the 20th Century. Her new show draws together a variety of subjects and media reflecting and celebrating a career of working with this most important of English artists.
Bohun Gallery’s 2016 exhibition focusses sharply on the diversity achieved during the artist’s lifetime from the earliest picturesque paintings of derelict architectural ruins circa 1940 to the later paintings of stately homes and English Churches and his final works focussing on floral still lifes. These are thrown in to sharp contrast with his ‘Eye & Camera’ collage series of the 1960s reflecting his interest in the developing genre of pop art. Patricia recalls “I had become interested in the Eye and Camera series which even now is not as widely known as it might be. Our exhibition in 1975 was the first time John had ever shown his Eye & Camera series and it was something of a shock to many people who so loved his English architecture and landscape subjects!”
Bohun Gallery also staged a first in 1992 with a show devoted entirely to Piper’s Foliate Head designs. Derived from the Medieval imagery of the Green Man, the Foliate Heads are amongst Piper's most distinctive motifs and recur in a variety of media including stained glass and ceramics, as well as drawings, paintings and prints. One of the highlights in the current show is a 6ft tapestry of a Foliate Head in Yellow and Blue. As with all Piper’s collaborative projects, the tapestry relied on fine craftsmen to translate his designs and visions into three-dimensional reality and this particular tapestry was woven in Dordabis, Namibia. Another successful creative relationship celebrated in Bohun Gallery’s exhibition is that of Piper and the late potter Geoffrey Eastop and the exhibition includes a number of their highly decorated ceramics.
John Piper’s importance in the field of textile designs will be highlighted in 2016 with a major show on the subject at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester. During the 1950s, John was commissioned by a number of notable textile manufacturers to translate his work into designs and he extracted imagery from his Foliate Head series, the cubist design ‘Stones of Bath’, the ‘Northern Cathedral’ and a Venetian scene ‘Chiesa de la Salute’, among others. This magnificent group of designs will be displayed at Bohun Gallery.
Having curated the 2012 exhibition ‘John Piper and the Church’ at Dorchester Abbey, Patricia Jordan Evans’ has been able to amass a fine and varied selection of church paintings which are, perhaps, what visitors will most look forward to seeing. Many of them featured in the Dorchester Abbey exhibition, which gives collectors an opportunity to view and acquire particularly noteworthy paintings by the artist. Highlights include a magnificent painting of a Welsh church near Llangoflen; the ruins of Beauvale Priory and a 1970 painting of Clamecy Cathedral, Burgundy.
After his death in 1992, Bohun Gallery continued to work with John’s widow Myfanwy Piper and, subsequently, his Estate. “Nowadays his presence continues at Bohun Gallery through my relationship with his family and supporters and we continue to enjoy curating biennial exhibitions. Selecting John’s work is as exciting as it ever was to me. I continue to wonder at the huge amount and variety of work he undertook during his long life and still reflect on our great good fortune to have been taken seriously by him”.