Paul Waplington

Paul Waplington trained in Nottingham as a lace designer - a highly sophisticated trade – but he soon became inhibited by flat patterning, and wanted to work on three-dimensional subjects.  He began drawing and painting his neighbourhood, the redbrick terraced streets and high-windowed factories and the people who lived and worked in them.  Uninterested in the aspirations of modern artists, just as they showed no interest in him, he evolved a beautifully rhythmic, gutsy style to capture the liveliness of the scenes around him. His art has a political dimension in that, unusually in visual art, it is in praise of ordinary working life, but it doesn’t have an agenda beyond that and never stoops to the  demeaning formalism of social realism, which he abhors.

When the lace business in Nottingham collapsed, Paul, still designing for the trade in Italy and Spain, moved to northern Portugal.  He bought and restored a ruined smallholding, learnt Portuguese, married and settled down.  Then, gradually, he started to draw and paint again, not streets but terraced fields, and the farmers who lived and worked on them. All his former, beautiful sense of rhythm came back to express his admiration for peasant architecture, his love of the ancient Barrosã breed of cattle and, above all, his feeling for the people who have for centuries eked out a tough existence in these granite hills.  His art is not a sentimental return to nature, but an unblinkered, realistic, heartfelt response to a hard but rich way of life that is rapidly being lost.

Viuva de Panque – Sra Torres (Widow from Panque) 
acrylic on canvas  60 x 40 cm
Private Collection

Alfreton Road  1979
acrylic on canvas  120 x 120 cm
South Bank Centre (Previously Arts Council Collection) London

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