ABOUT THE ARTIST
“I was born into a British working-class family in Scarborough, Yorkshire. I have an elder brother and sister. We were brought up in what is now called a single-parent family. Our mother was a waitress. When she died, we kids went off in different directions. Not choice, it just happened. After something of a chaotic period I ended up with foster parents living in Darwen, Lancashire, aged eleven. They took me with them when they moved to Manchester.
At the age of twelve I was offered an interview for a place in the Manchester High School of Art, a specialist junior art school in the normal secondary system. A place had become available because a pupil had climbed into the building next door for a bet with his mates. It was Strangeways Prison. So he was kicked out of the school, poor kid. I was lucky enough to get his place. (I found out about these circumstances later, through the child-care system, and many years later I met the expellee who confirmed it!)
A few of us from the High School went to St. Martins College of Art in London, England. At the time it was renowned as the best undergraduate art school in Britain. I'm not sure I learnt a lot at St. Martins. It had and has a terrific reputation, upon which many of the Fine Art staff rested very comfortably.
I remember at least a couple of staff who said that artists were born and it, art, could not be taught. Which begged the question in my mind, 'then why are you drawing a salary?'
For a few years after leaving college I worked in various occupations; painter, muralist, carpenter, songwriter, music producer, to name a few. Throughout this time I was painting, and finding my way. Whilst working in education, I eventually became the Head of School in a large Creative Arts Department, in a London College. Subsequently I left to paint full-time, which is what I do now.
To my best knowledge I am only a quarter Welsh. Yet I now think of myself as a Welsh painter. I suppose this is the case because my wife Mari is 100% Welsh; because we have been coming to Wales to paint since we were both students; because I think the Welsh landscape is the most moving that I have seen; because I'm a member of the Royal Cambrian Academy; and because when I settled down to full-time painting, I came here to North Wales with Mari to work here in our chosen environment.
Of course all current painters have the inspiration, and the occasionally daunting example, of the great artists who form the Welsh landscape tradition.
So it's no surprise, given the stunning subject matter, that there exists such a strong tradition of landscape painting here. Not only by the many excellent local artists but also by artists from 'abroad', particularly from England.” www.harryrobertsonpainter.com
ABOUT THE AREA
The Ogmore Valley is situated to the north-east of Bridgend which contains the villages of Ogmore Vale and Nantymoel. There are two actual valleys; the Ogwr Fawr and Ogwr Fach. At the north of Ogwr Fawr is Bwlch-y-clawdd, a hill the road over which connects links the valley to the Rhondda Fawr valley.
The area has excellent walking and mountain biking with stunning views across the valleys and south across the Bristol Channel to England.
ABOUT THE WORK
“The title of the painting is 'Late Afternoon, Ogmore Vale' and I attempted to capture the warm feel in the vale as the sun began to move towards the west before twilight.
After a few days working intensively in the area, I chose the long view down the vale, looking southwards, simply because for me it was the best visual explanation of the unique 'feel' of the vale.
I was looking particularly at the early morning light or the late afternoon light as probably providing the most striking image.
In fact, one morning, driving to the Vale from Cardiff where I was staying, I anxiously felt that the sun was coming up too quickly and that I may miss the best of it, so I unfortunately put my foot down a little too much, and on returning to North Wales received a speeding ticket - who says artists don't suffer for their art?”
Harry Robertson, September 2013
Image copyright - Bridgend Bites