The ROI, The Mall Galleries, London, SW1

Tel : 020 7930 6844

El Calvario The Dream The Way It Is

Olwen Tarrant

The Paintings of Olwen Tarrant, the former President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, are instantly recognisable, whether they are landscapes, still life subjects, figures or work from the imagination. She has a strong feeling for colour and her work has been featured in many recent editions of the prestige magazines.

Olwen is the only woman to be elected President of the ROI in its 125-year history and served five years in the post from 1999 to 2004.

She won her first prize while still at the Sir John Cass Art College in East London - a painting of the 7.32am commuter train into Liverpool Street station. The judge was Sir Charles Wheeler, former President of the Royal Academy, who prophesied a successful career for Olwen and bought her painting for his own collection.

It was the first of several prizes and awards for Olwen at both painting and sculpture, including the Alan Gourley, Cornelissen, and Llewellyn Alexander awards.

She has been on radio and television, has written many articles for magazines, and her paintings and drawings have appeared in numerous art text books. She has lectured and demonstrated on painting and sculpture in many parts of the country.

Her studio and home overlook the famous Malvern Hills, in Worcestershire, less than a mile from where Elgar lived for much of his life. "I love Elgar's music and it is wonderful to listen to it at home looking at the scene which inspired him; I think, in a very modest way, that it inspires me, too" she says.

Olwen lived in Essex for many years and she always missed the mountains of her native South Wales. It is perhaps no coincidence that many of her award-winning paintings have had hills and mountains in the background. For much of the summer she lives in Puerto Pollensa in the north of Mallorca and here again her studio looks onto a mountain range which reminds her of Wales without the rain. She loves the sun, light and colours in the picturesque Mallorcan villages and relaxes (a term used very loosely, she says) by sailing in the Mediterranean.

Olwen has exhibited her paintings in London Galleries, including :

  • The Mall Galleries
  • The Frank Sabin Gallery
  • Alexander Llewellyn Gallery

and throughout the country at :

  • The Fosse Gallery, Stow-on-the-Wold
  • The Century Gallery, Datchet
  • The Shell Gallery, Ledbury
  • The Hawker Gallery, Amersham
  • Alexander Clayton Art at Stratford-on-Avon
  • The Whittington Gallery, Henley on Thames and others

Asked about her work, Olwen says "Like all artists I am always striving to show how I perceive the world around me; endeavouring to do this to my own satisfaction and never quite reaching the goals I set for myself. In my Mediterranean paintings I try to convey the excitement of the sunlight dancing over the landscape. Still life subjects are always a challenge to me. I want to capture on my canvas the feeling of pleasure it gives me to catch a glimpse of a group of objects, showing quite unexpectedly, an arrangement of colours, shapes and textures. I like to do figures from memory in my paintings. We all have a wealth of information tucked away in our heads if we can just put it on to the canvas".