Painter David Graham has spent the past 70 years searching for colour and light. It has led him to exotic places such as Spain, Prague, Cordoba, Marrakech, Israel, Venice and Paris and now visitors can see the results of his explorations in Retrospective Exhibition, Part IV, at to Lauderdale House.
Born in 1926, David went to Hammersmith School of Art at the age of 13 in 1939 and then on to Central St Martins. Then, after four years of National Service in the Grenadier Guards, he attended the Royal College of Art and graduated with a first class diploma. He has worked as a professional artist and teacher ever since. Accolades include the Spirit of London Competition, two Lord Mayors Art Awards and membership of the renowned Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
At Lauderdale House he is something of a national treasure and this latest exhibition, his fourth at the venue, highlights his collection of paintings of waterlillies, which he has been studying for the past 30 years.
"When you look into water, as well as getting the reflection of plants and trees you get little glimpses of sky as well, so that every time you paint it, it's different."
Some of David's waterlillies demonstrate a cool palette and were painted at Wisley, while others capture the heat and vibrancy of gardens he has visited in Malaga. He has spent the past ten years living in both London and Spain.
"Even with landscapes and portraiture I'm interested in colour, which is why Spain appeals. I've also done around 100 paintings of Israel. 15 years ago I travelled from the north to Bethlehem, Jericho, Jerusalem and down to Eilat. Historically it's interesting to see all these places you've read about and when you're there painting you think this is 2,000 years old. It gives an extra emphasis."
When you look into water, as well as getting the reflection of plants and trees you get little glimpses of sky as well, so that every time you paint it, it's differentDavid Graham
David tells me he paints direct onto the canvas and enjoys working out in the field.
"Fortunately my wife helps me carry my box of paints, easel and brushes. I don't like acrylic paint, it's like plastic so I work mainly in oil. the only drawback is it takes almost a week to dry."
His work is included in private collections by Guinness, The Earl Haig and Sir Michael Caine bought one of David's waterlillies.
Looking back over his illustrious career I ask the 85-year-old which of his works he prefers?
"I submit portraits to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters every year but also enjoy painting figures and landscapes. The most recent work is always what you think is your best, but after a year or two your taste changes slightly."
Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill, Waterlow Park, Highgate until Sunday, September 4. Open: Tue to Fri, 11am to 4pm, Sun, midday to 5pm.
Details: 020 8348 8716, http://lauderdalehouse.co.uk/