BILL HUDSON: A MOMENT IN TIME
Time will tell if Bill Hudson is one of the most innovative artists working in the country today.
Art Gallery owner Vernon Holt firmly believes he is. The Partridge Green resident, who runs the Lovat Barnes Gallery in London, believes that in the art world Bill is a ‘Ferrari or Maserati’ compared to the hundreds of ‘Vauxhalls or Fords’ selling paintings.
He is so unwavering in his view, that AAH couldn’t help wondering if we were looking at two completely different set of drawings when we were first presented with Bill’s art. In front of us were a series of sketchbooks full of scribbles or simplistic doodles, sometimes simply just a bird’s tail or the vague outline of a person. In front of Vernon was something that has never been seen before - an artist capturing movement in one single moment in time.
Later, we were shown abstract paintings by Bill. It was as though they had been created by an entirely different artist, full of colour, vibrancy and life. Yet still, it was difficult for an untrained eye to understand quite what Vernon– a man who has devoted his life to art – was seeing in Bill’s work.
Only when we met Bill at Horsham Park pond did we begin to grasp exactly what he is trying to do, which is no mean feat as he finds it difficult to explain himself! Bill said: “I have done life drawing, landscapes and portraits in the past, but have moved towards abstract as you move on with your art into different areas. But I can’t talk much about the area I’m in now as it’s an area I don’t know anything about!
“I’m into Time and the search for the fourth dimension. It’s all about movement. If I was, for instance, going to draw these people feeding the ducks, you would only have a couple of seconds to capture the moment. Life isn’t static, so you have to capture the angles quickly. If I look at Toby now as he takes a photo I can capture the movement and that exact moment - the very last thing that he has done in his life. That is all about time and that is what I am looking for – the fourth dimension – not recording the past.
“That is where I want to be working on and when I’m in that mood I never know what I am going to do. It’s not a Freudian thing about recording the subconscious or anything, it’s just time. I don’t want to be making marks that I’ve already made. I don’t even like looking at the work of other painters now as I don’t want to be caught up in things that they have done so I stick mainly to nature and fast drawing.
“You may walk away thinking I’m a raving nutcase but that is not so. It’s recording something that you don’t know, which is why you can’t talk about it. It’s like Einstein talking about the theory of relativity before he discovered it – you cannot do it. I think anyone working at a certain level can understand it.”
You may be forgiven, having read the Einstein comment, that Bill has an inflated opinion of his work. That is not the case – he is a humble man who declines the opportunity to pick a favourite piece of work or talk at length about any individual painting he has created. His only focus seems to be on capturing the fourth dimension, a concept that he finds difficult to explain.
He said: “There are no rules in Art, but I don’t get the idea of copying from a photo. Why should I spend months doing that when you can do better in a second with a photograph? So I want to do my own thing. When I see Leonardo, or any of the masters, I think ‘You did it your way and I’m doing it my way’. Most art you see now you look at and think ‘this is studio work’ but I am trying to capture time as it happens.
“Some pieces are very immediate and you can finish them very quickly while others draw you back like a magnet. There are times when you can’t get away as a painting will tie you down. I was reading an article about Rembrandt and it said he would shut himself down and you couldn’t get near him. I experience that too – you can hear people calling you but you are locked in – it’s like self-hypnosis.”
Art has not been kind to Bill Hudson. He has sold paintings throughout his life, having started drawing whilst at infant school. He lives in Saxon Weald accommodation in Horsham, and painting even contributed to the breakdown of his marriage.
“I went through a divorce six years ago after I was with my wife for 40 years. She used to say to me ‘what do you love most Bill, me or painting?’ and I could never answer. I used to say ‘well I love painting but I love you too Margaret! I was in the studio 18-20 hours a day and you don’t realise. Margaret would say ‘I have got some friends coming over’, but I’d be so engrossed in painting that I wouldn’t be able to stop. I wanted to be with them but couldn’t.”
NowBill Hudson hopes that his paintings, with the support of Vernon and the Lovat Barnes Gallery, may give something back. He said: “I’ve always been wary of fine lines. For instance if Vernon says that I should come down to the gallery, meet some people, then I have to be wary. If you think you have ‘arrived’ that can destroy you. I guess I’d like to arrive, but for me not to know about it.
“I can only do my own thing. I could have made some money and made a name for myself. All the landscapes and portraits I drew back home (Bill moved to Horsham from Norfolk and although he has great fondness for the town he longs to return) always sold well. I used to get many requests, especially for my portraits of Admiral Nelson, and I wouldn’t mind.
“But I moved on and I can’t escape what I am so I’ll just carry on being me. I don’t draw or paint for people to say ‘that’s nice’ as I’m not a pretty picture painter. I’m always ready to draw. I don’t plan anything but anything can happen at any time.”
William 'Bill' Hudson is having a solo show at the Lovat Barnes Gallery in London on 9th – 14th January. Visit http://www.londongallery.org.uk/ for more details.