Why Ann Block­ley was al­ways destined to fol­low in the foot­steps of her fa­mous fa­ther

Cotswold Life - - EDITOR’S COMMENT - WORDS: Ann Block­ley SWA

De­spite her best ef­forts, Ann Block­ley was al­ways destined to fol­low in the foot­steps of her fa­ther, the cel­e­brated artist G John Block­ley RI PPPS, RWA

Itried re­ally hard not to fol­low in my fa­ther’s foot­steps – it was the last thing I wanted as I was de­ter­mined to make my own mark. He was an in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned land­scape artist in water­colours and pas­tels, liv­ing in the Cotswolds. How­ever, when my head­mas­ter in­structed me to go to uni­ver­sity rather than art col­lege if I wanted to ever have a ‘proper’ job, I nat­u­rally opted for art col­lege!

I started at Chel­tenham, then fo­cussed on il­lus­tra­tion at Brighton in or­der to es­cape the fam­ily in­flu­ence. Ray­mond Briggs (The Snow­man) was one of my tu­tors but my in­ter­est was in nat­u­ral his­tory and I al­ways in­cor­po­rated botan­i­cal de­tail and na­ture in my il­lus­tra­tions. When I re­turned home to the Cotswolds in the hol­i­days I ex­plored the lo­cal mead­ows and hedgerows to gather in­spi­ra­tion and one day felt drawn to try paint­ing a water­colour. I had never watched my fa­ther paint but some­how - I seemed to be able to do it in­stinc­tively and, like a lem­ming, I soon found my­self ex­hibit­ing in his Stow-on-the-wold gallery.

Over 30 years later the gallery has changed hands, my fa­ther has died, there has been a lot of ‘water­colour un­der the bridge’, and I now I am also an ‘in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned artist’. My dad wrote nine books about paint­ing and I have just fin­ished my ninth book so against my bet­ter judge­ment, a pat­tern is form­ing. In fact, my list is ‘I am a mem­ber of a group called the Ar­bo­re­al­ists whose di­verse work is cen­tred around the uni­fy­ing sub­ject of the tree’ about to grow to ten ti­tles be­cause I have also just com­pleted a ret­ro­spec­tive book about my fa­ther’s work.

The two books are be­ing pub­lished by Pav­il­ion books (Bats­ford). One of them is called ‘Ann Block­ley’s water­colour work­shop’. The pub­lish­ers de­cided to in­clude my name within the ti­tle as I have some quite un­usual idio­syn­cratic tech­niques but the book en­cour­ages peo­ple to look at the world of na­ture with fresh eyes and de­velop an ex­per­i­men­tal style of their own. The se­cond book, ‘G John Block­ley: A Ret­ro­spec­tive’ is about my fa­ther’s story as well as his paint­ings. His par­ents made him leave school at 13 to be­come an en­gi­neer­ing draughts­man ap­pren­tice. Al­though he wanted to do some­thing more creative they felt he needed to do some­thing that would lead to ‘a proper job’. He hated it and even­tu­ally be­came a full time painter at the age of 52. In spite of hav­ing no for­mal art train­ing his early water­colours were ground break­ing. He was one of the first water­colour artists to chal­lenge the bound­aries of this medium in the 1960s. How­ever, by 2002, his land­scape paint­ings had pro­gressed even fur­ther into a dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent style us­ing mixed medi­ums in a vi­brant con­tem­po­rary way.

My paint­ings have also evolved and changed over the years- mov­ing away from de­tail to an in­creas­ingly im­pres­sion­is­tic ap­proach but still fo­cussing on the de­tails within my lo­cal Glouces­ter­shire land­scape- the trees, wild­flow­ers, birds, bees and hedgerows . My stu­dio is in a 16th-cen­tury Cotswold barn ad­ja­cent to our house which is the old­est in the vil­lage of To­den­ham. It over­looks a mag­i­cal gar­den where I gather most of my ideas and my hus­band keeps his bees.

I am a mem­ber of a group called the Ar­bo­re­al­ists whose di­verse work is cen­tred around the uni­fy­ing sub­ject of the tree. This group of pro­fes­sional artists have ex­hib­ited through­out UK in­clud­ing the Royal West of Eng­land Academy in Bris­tol and next year at the John Davies gallery in More­tonin-marsh. I am also a mem­ber of the So­ci­ety of Women Artists who show at the Mall gal­leries in Lon­don. My fa­ther was a mem­ber of the Royal In­sti­tute of Water­colour Painters (RI) and was also pres­i­dent of the Pas­tel So­ci­ety (PS) who also have their an­nual ex­hi­bi­tions at the Mall.

So it ap­pears that I ended up ‘be­ing un­der the in­flu­ence’ af­ter all.

Teasels by the Pond, by Ann Block­ley

Welsh Cot­tage, by G John Block­ley

Stow-on-the-wold, by G John Block­ley

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