Allenheads Artists Profile


ARTIST & PHOTOGRAPHER ROBERT MADDISON was born in 1946 in Newcastle Upon Tyne. He studied at both Newcastle and Manchester Colleges of Art. Bob then went to Northern Counties College of Education prior to teaching art and photography at Blaydon Comprehensive School for twelve years, followed by a part time post at Dame Allan's School. Bob lives with his wife Elizabeth in an 18 century cottage at the head of the Allen Valley, in the Northern Pennines. He has a studio attached to his cottage in which he produces and exhibits his work. Most artists evolve towards their mature style in stages, with many false starts along the way. Bob Maddison is a rarity who in the seventies made a quantum leap from minimilist abstraction to finely detailed realism with no intermediate steps. He began painting watercolours that were often the size of traditional easel paintings and beyond, with the degree of development and detail pushed to extremes. Because of this and the depth of colour and range of tone his paintings give the impression of being painted in a more substantial medium. He seems fascinated by the shifting poles of abstraction and realism - two paths which he says 'lead to the same goal.' He uses the techniques of the realist to make pictures that 'feel very abstract.' In fact he calls his work 'abstract-realism.' His subject matter is usually still life or floral, although he says that he is not interested in the subject matter which he only considers to be an armature for ideas.

Bob is one of the few professional artists worldwide that specializes in the ancient art of metalpoint drawing. This is a technique that was once used by the Renaissance artists. Bob draws with 24ct gold and 99.9%siolver on a specially prepared ground.

Robert Maddisons' metalpoint drawings work on two planes. The subject matter and the idea behind them. The subject matter is usually a masterful intimate look at the landscape or the human form. The idea is one that has interested him on and off for over fifty years - using the subject matter to explore his ideas about overall composition using the subject as abstract shapes. He uses close up views of the subject and develops commpositions that extend up to the edges of the rectangle. Selecting a small part of the subject and intimate close up views cancels out the perspective and flattens out the picture plane. The use of metalpoint is unusual among contemporary artists. There are only a few professional artists worldwide that concentrate on this technique. Metalpoint produces a velvety, soft,smooth surface that emphasizes the shapes while eliminating any sign of the artists touch. The limited tonal range that metalpoint produces also helps to flatten the picture plane. Although metalpoint drawings are soft and delicate the shapes are well defined with lots of information when viewed close up. From a distance the pictures are very abstract, the gold and silver sparkling, depending on the angle of the light. As the viewer approaches the drawings the extreme complexities of natures forms begin to stand out.

He has written and illustrated a booklet about the Northern Pennines, and produced a chapter for the drawing book "Different Strokes." He has work in many collections worldwide and was asked to produce two watercolour paintings to be presented to HRH Prince Charles.

He is a member of MENSA and is mentioned in "Who's Who In Art"