Stewart Geddes British, b. 1961
Stewart Geddes is a painterly, colourist, abstract artist. He studied at Bristol Polytechnic (UWE); City University, London; and the Royal College of Art. Whilst at Bristol he was introduced to the post-war St Ives abstract school by artists Paul Feiler and Michael Canney, both of whom had close links with West Penwith and taught in the
Fine Art department at Bristol. During this time Geddes visited Patrick Heron at his house ‘Eagles’ Nest’, and saw the Peter Lanyon paintings and drawings in the house of Lanyon’s widow Sheila in Newlyn; both became deeply affecting experiences. Lanyon’s painterliness, and Heron’s colourist instincts, along with his celebration of Matisse and Bonnard became central to Geddes’ own concerns. This was augmented when Geddes moved to London and met painter Bert Irvin, and, despite their 40 years age difference, they became close friends.
At the Royal College of Art Geddes became interested in Decollage – particularly the torn poster work of Jacques de la Villegle and Raymond Hains. The billboard scale of their work led to Geddes to consider working much larger. The visual opulence of the ripped poster remains a central motif for Geddes.
Geddes became an Academician of the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol (RWA) in 1996, and in 2016 its President. It was during his presidency that he curated the first retrospective of Bert Irvin’s work in conjunction with the Albert Irvin Estate and Tate Gallery. ‘Albert Irvin and Abstract Expressionism’ looked at the pivotal moments
in Irvin’s development toward abstraction, particularly through his encounter with American painting at the Tate Gallery during the late 1950s. The Irvin retrospective included works from throughout his career alongside those by Pollock, De Kooning, Motherwell and Barnet Newman, as well as Lanyon, John Hoyland and Irvin’s great friend and fellow Goldsmiths’ tutor, Basil Beattie. Geddes has since been appointed an Honorary Academician of the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh.
Geddes has taught in numerous Fine Art departments around the country. After the Royal College of Art, Geddes left London to take up the post of Head of Painting at Cardiff School of Art and Design, between 2007 and 2010. He ran the department from the magnificent top floor studios in the famous 1960s Howard Gardens art school building (now demolished) in the centre of the city. In order to re-balance his working week in favour of his own painting, Geddes returned to studio teaching, firstly on the Fine Art course at Plymouth University and then as head of the final year Fine Art programme at Cheltenham College of Art. Since 2019 he has stood down from all regular teaching to exclusively focus on his own practice from his studio in Bristol.
Most recently Geddes has collaborated with Radiohead’s drummer Philip Selway, in developing paintings that explore the character of Selway’s music in his third solo album ‘Strange Dance’. The project grew out of regular Zoom conversations between them during the pandemic. Selway was keen that Geddes’ artwork grew out of a discourse between their different processes, so instead of producing paintings for an already completed album, the two worked together from the outset of the album’s development. The project led to a number of technical developments in Geddes’ work, including use of the square format and painting onto raw canvas, with no size or primer preparation. Four paintings are selected for the various versions of the album.