The Paintings of Ronald William Webb

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Ronald William Webb on his own works:

"Music is one of my greatest loves and I listen constantly while painting. I have very catholic tastes from medieval music to the latest works by living composers. I also have a real passion for particular performers. The conductors Wilhelm Furtwangfer and John Barbirolli, the cellist Jaqueline Du Pre for example and, above all others, the singer Kathleen Ferrier. I first got to seriously appreciate her life and music when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis over 20 years ago. By reading her biography, I learned of her wonderful humour in the face of adversity and her truly amazing courage. Then, of course, there was the voice. As Elisabeth Schwarzkopf has said, this wasn't merely a 'great' voice but a genius whose voice you recognise after only one note.

While painting my 'Composers' I realised that some day I would have to paint my tribute to Kathleen. Life plays strange games and, through friends, I was put into contact with the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery who hold the Ferrier archive. Kathleen was born near and grew up in Blackburn. To cut an involved story short, Blackburn offered me a three month exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery from September 6th. to November 29th. 2008.

Each painting will be my abstracted 'impression' of a piece of music that she recorded. Mostly I have an instinctive reaction to the music that enables me to choose the colours I need. Much of the painting process is also instinctive and very much relies on 'happy accidents': the way colours mix on the brush and canvas, the different ways of moving the paint, the multi-layering and so on.

I strive to create paintings that, through beauty of colour and form, provoke both an emotional and thoughtful response from the viewer. The creation of beauty has taken a long journey of learning and, to an increasing degree, courage. I am still on that journey and it will be for others to decide if and when I ever succeed in my quest. As artists we should always search for our individual 'voice' while realising there can be no such thing as complete originality.One is forever trying to convert one's inspiration, be it music, poetry or the landscape around one, into a work that is undeniably and recognisably your own.

Recent years have seen a re-emergence of 'painting' as a valued art form. There have been and are wonderful examples of 'conceptual' art. Recently I was thrilled and deeply moved by a beautiful installation in the Contemporary Art Museum in Palma, Mallorca. The problem has been that much 'art' of recent decades, has been concerned with ugliness, shockability and, yes, money in very large amounts. The emptiness of much conceptual art is revealed by how much explanation works seem to need, much of it pretentious in the extreme. I am not against art making political or social statements but the art should speak for itself. The 'Guernica' of Pablo Picasso tells you all about the horrors of modern warfare without needing a huge pamphlet to describe what you are seeing."

In the meantime, why not browse the work of on of his exhibitions - Music, Art and English, which is based on music by 8 composers. Ronald William Webb comments on these paintings in the video on this site.