Biography for Anthony Atkinson RCA (1929)

Anthony Atkinson is a landscape painter, influential art teacher and exhibition organiser. Educated at Wimbledon School of Art (1951-1954), Atkinson continued his painting training at the Royal College of Art, London (1954-1955). From 1956-66 Atkinson's paintings were reproduced as posters for London Transport which included adverts for the annual London Boat Race in 1956 and posters depicting the countryside around Runnymede promoting day trips 'beyond the city'. In 1964 Atkinson was appointed Head of Colchester School of Art and in 1976 Head of the Faculty of Art and Music, Colchester Institute of Higher Education. In the 1990s he organised group exhibitions at Ernst & Young that introduced and promoted young painters to a new audience. Since 2000, Atkinson has been the elected President of Colchester Art Society.


Statement

Anthony Atkinson is well known for his landscapes of Essex and the East Anglian countryside, in particular of the Boxted region and Mersey Island. He makes preparatory sketches and studies en plein air, and returns to his studio to make final paintings. The Norfolk countryside and coastline was a popular subject in the past for artists such as J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, John Sell Cotman and Thomas Kerrich, and was explored by Atkinson in a group of early oil paintings from the 1960s. Norfolk Coast, a gift bequeathed to The Minories by Mrs Bevan, depicts an estuary flowing to sea alongside a rough bank supported by a fence of wooden-plank reinforcements. The contrast between the flat sand planes with the gestural brush marks of the tactile grasses and sharp rocks express a daring and playful command of the medium in this painting, which is a prime example of his more impasto early style. The subtle, almost cold, palette deployed for the sky, sea, sand and earth creates a quiet, contemplative mood to the painting. More recent paintings of Provence and the South of France demonstrate Atkinson's adeptness also for gouache; a medium for which he has championed and written.

 Selected exhibitions

1962, 1967, 1970 The Minories, Colchester 
1966 Leighton House Gallery, London 
1973 Gainsborough's House, Sudbury
1974 Mercury Gallery, Colchester
1976 British Council, Kuwait
1977 Cambridge University
1991 A Survey of Influential East Anglican Artists, Chappel Galleries, Colchester (group)
1996 Colchester Art Society Fifty Years Anniversary, Chappel Galleries, Colchester (group)
2006 John Russell Gallery, Ipswich

Anthony Atkinson painted commissions for many organisations, including Shell, London Transport, Post Office, British Rail and Barclays Bank and his work is held in national collections such as Essex Museum, Transport for London Museum, London, Ernst & Young, Colchester General Hospital, Essex County Council,

Biography researched and written by Melissa Blanchflower