Fine Art Collector | Autumn 2018

JEFF ROWLAND sessions Studio Packed with nautical curiosities, Jeff’s home boasts views of a castle and the mouth of the River Tyne. The house of a former sea captain, it features a stargazer roof, complete with telescope. And it is here, under the stars, that Jeff creates his heart-warming oil paintings. “His taste in décor would put an interior designer to shame,” reveals our artist programme manager Demelza Morrow, after visiting him at his studio in Tynemouth. “ There are beautiful high ceilings, and the array of antiques – including pistols, antlers and oil lamps – just adds to the original Victorian feel.” It’s a long way from his humble beginnings, when Jeff sold his paintings on a local market to raise £35 per week for a studio in an ex-council office. Eating bacon sandwiches and drinking hot coffee to stay warm, he developed a love of people-watching that would last a lifetime. For his new collection, Jeff mixed his observation skills with carefully-selected song lyrics to illustrate that we are all part of a collective story. He has taken two classic songs – ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by the Kinks and ‘Piano Man’ by Billy Joel – and woven them between the drops of rain that awaken his art. “I select songs with a rich narrative,” he explains. “A whole life can culminate in one single, brief interaction. Listening to music as I paint, I see the song as a ‘brief’. Just a few lines can bring life to a character.” Jeff researched thoroughly for the project, preparing notes and sketches. In each artwork, there are tiny clues about the song it’s based on. ‘Waterloo Sunset’ features crowds outside the station in reference to the ‘millions of people swarming like flies round Waterloo underground’, while ‘The Piano Man’ shows a clock set to 9pm, when the ‘regular crowd shuffles in’. Along with his rain motif, created using a dry emulsion brush, the paintings depict his signature anonymous couple. “I want to capture their ‘togetherness’ in a way that feels real,” Jeff says. “By covering their faces with hats or umbrellas, they become generic figures that are more relatable. We’ve all been caught in the rain.”


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