West Sussex artist Clive McBain is celebrating 20 years of exhibitions at Chichester’s Oxmarket Gallery with a new show at the gallery running until September 9.
For Clive, the story really begins when he was five and the Second World War was coming to an end.
“I lived with my parents in a sad little house in Torquay, south Devon. Rather than play with the others I would sit myself at a table and spend hours copying pictures out of newspapers and magazines. When I was seven we moved to London and lived in a prefab. My father gave me lots of encouragement to continue drawing. My first taste of recognition as an artist was a pencil drawing I did of a robin. My father entered it in a competition for children’s art run by one of the tabloids. It won third prize and I won two and sixpence!”
By the age of 16, Clive had left school and had no idea what to do with his life: “A lucky meeting with an art student changed all that. She encouraged me to apply to the Willesden College of Art to study fine art, and I was accepted only to have my studies cut short by an illness which put me in a coma for six weeks. The doctors advised my parents to move to the coast where the air was cleaner. We moved to Sussex and my father landed a job as manager of a pub in Brighton. Once again, I applied and was accepted at Brighton College of Art to study fine art.
“It was during these early days as an art student that I met Sidonie who worked in an art shop in East Street, Brighton. I married Sidonie in 1962 and we have been inseparable ever since!
“Eventually I joined the graphic diploma department because I found fine art dull. I went on to win three national poster competitions and on graduating with an NDD made the natural transition into advertising as an art director in a leading London advertising agency.
“In 1972 I set up my own design consultancy based in London. In 1987 the company was taken over by AMV plc. In 1992 I took the major decision to devote myself entirely to painting. By this time Sidonie and I were living near Petworth. As a retirement present Sidonie gave me a presentation box of paints. The box remained unopened for two years as I feared that my dream of being a painter would be dashed if the paintings did not live up to my expectations.
“Between 1994 and 1998 I was commissioned to design and illustrate wine labels worldwide. These labels allowed me to indulge my passion for detail, a passion which that remains to this day
“In 1998, the Oxmarket Centre of Arts gave me the opportunity to show my work to the public. It was a successful exhibition with some lovely comments. I plucked up enough courage to approach The Observer newspaper in Chichester to show my work, and wow, what a reception they gave me!
“Over the past 20 years I have had several exhibitions at the Oxmarket and across the south. I’ve had six two-week solo exhibitions at Petworth House to great acclaim selling pictures worldwide.
“My representational work is well known and well documented. At this celebration I will be exhibiting over 40 representational paintings, work done over a period of five years.
“Joining me will be my daughter Tabitha exhibiting her beautiful and highly-decorative paintings in the foyer gallery. The other three galleries will be exhibiting my work.”