BIOGRAPHY :   Austen Pinkerton

 

 



   Austen Pinkerton was born in 1951 in North Harrow, north-west London, and educated locally at Pinner County Grammar School, leaving with nine 'O' (Ordinary) level, and four 'A' (Advanced) level passes.

   During his *early years his drawing 'The Ruined Temple at Chiswick house' (age 12) was published in The Daily Telegraph, (national newspaper) and his large oil painting 'Self Portrait in a Field of Daffodils' (age 18) was awarded first prize in oil painting at the Harrow Show with a personal note by judge Ken Howard.

  On leaving **Pinner County he began study at the Oxford School of Architecture, Oxford Polytechnic, where he spent the first two years. While at Oxford he had a one-man show at the Oxford Playhouse, described by the university magazine 'Isis', as :

'A delightful breath of fresh air in the gallery'.*** 
   At the end of the second year it was suggested that he should consider transferring to Art College, as a result of pictures he included in a second year final exhibition.


   After a year spent as a hospital porter in Harrow, he began study at Goldsmiths College, London University, School of Art, graduating in 1976 with a Batchelor of Arts: Fine Art (Painting).
   At Goldsmiths School of Art the Principal was ****Jon Thompson, later mentor to Damian Hirst amongst others, and his tutors included the artists Albert Irvin O.B.E.,  Basil Beatty, and Andrew Brighton, later to be curator of public events at Tate Modern.  The painting school was in the old Surrey Docks Office building, Rotherhithe, at which there was a break-in, and six of his paintings were stolen. None have ever been recovered.

 
    After leaving Goldsmiths he returned to architecture in order to earn a living. He subsequently worked for about 30 years part-time for a  variety of Architectural and Interior Design firms, whilst continuing to Paint, Draw, and make Sculptures. For a while he was illustrating and designing the interiors of English traditional pubs in this country*****, and also, later, abroad,... notably Italy, France and Spain. He has also worked on interior refurbishments of the Law Society, and the Royal College Of Surgeons.


     Meanwhile he exhibited his work at many galleries in London,…in particular The Blackheath Gallery, Krane arts, the contemporary arts wing of Krane Kalman, also The Talent Store, Graffitti Gallery, Gagliardi Gallery, and, sculpture only, repeatedly at ****** The Horniman Museum, South London. Also repeatedly at the Gloucester Gallery, Kensington, run by Joan Catlin, former Registrar of The Royal College Of Art, and to one of which exhibitions Sir Eduardo Paolozzi visited by Joan's invitation to see his work.
      ( I assume Joan must have known Paolozzi from her time at the Royal College).


      Between 1990 and 1996 he opened and ran a gallery in East Dulwich, south London, ..'The Austen Pinkerton Gallery' , showing only his own work. At this time he was commissioned to produce a series of illustrations for the Times Higher Educational Supplement.
     He has had numerous private commissions, most notably three very large installed paintings at No 36 Wharton Street, Islington, which began initially with a picture (one of a pair) for *******Major Sir Hamish Forbes, Secretary of the Order of St. John, serial prison camp escapee, and former resident of Colditz. When this picture was moved to a new house another was commissioned by the new owner. and the same again when that moved with it's owner.
      Up until August 2007 he worked part time as assistant to the architect Richard Lincoln and also the Interior Designer Chester Jones on refurbishments of 'High End Residential' properties in central London. 
     Included among these was Sir Ridley Scotts house, 'Old Grove House', in Hampstead.


       Meanwhile he continued to paint, draw, and make sculptures.
  From August 2007 to October 2008 he worked part-time for Chistopher Smallwood Architects, Fulham, London, as a Senior Architectural Technician on High-End Residential projects in London .
       As a result of the collapse in the construction industry in 2008 he set up his own business in partnership with the photographer Stephen Street as a general builder, whilst continuing to work as an artist on average two days a week.
Due to a presence on the American website: ‘Absolutearts’, and the British website: ‘Londonart’, he has to date been offered three exhibitions in the United States, three in the U.K., and exhibitions in Poland and Hong Kong. All the above were offers to participate in large group shows. One exhibition in the USA in North Carolina has so far taken place. He has also  contributed to a group exhibition at the Arkhangel gallery in Listowel, Eire.
  In 2011 he was offered a two year contract with the Corporate Art branch of the GX fine art Gallery in Camberwell, South London, (Since closed).


      From late 2011 he began to enter for public competitions, e.g.: John Moores, BP Portrait award, Whitechapel Open, R. I. of British Watercolour Artists, Pastel Society, R. I. of British Artists, Cork Street Open, Threadneedle competition, Painter Stainers competition, National Art Open….. and has been shortlisted seven times to date.
      In October 2012 his picture ‘The Bay’ was chosen for the Threadneedle Prize competition at the Mall Galleries, Central London.
      In February 2013 his large drawing ‘Pentre Ifan’ was chosen for the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize competition, The Mall Galleries, Central 
 London.
     In 2011 his biography was included in the Goldmark Gallery two volume publication of artist biographies:'British Artists Since 1945' by David Buckman. Curiously his, (as far as he was aware, entirely unknown) large painting 'Hangliders' ( a commission for Mike Nightingale and second wife Cath) was listed by Buckman as a 'Major Work'. How Buckman knew about this picture, or more importantly that it was a major work,  remains a mystery.


      In 2013 he moved with his wife Hilary to Narberth, Pembrokeshire, South-West Wales, 
     In 2014 he was asked to exhibit two sculptures at the Ceri Richards Gallery, Taliesin Center, Swansea University.
    In November 2015 he was asked to enter work for the Winter Show at the Ceri Richards Gallery.
     From March 2016 he has been participating in shows at the Waterfront Gallery, Milford Haven, where he is a gallery artist.
     In May 2017 a detailed 1300 word critical review (author unknown) of three of his works along with introduction, conclusion, and references was published on the 'Studentshare' website, used by university students, as an example (he  presumes) of a Masters Degree essay in Contemporary Art criticism, entitled: 
'Contemporary Artist, Designer or Filmmaker- Austen Pinkerton Essay'
( This has since appeared on two other student essay websites ).

 
     In June 2017 he was asked to participate in the 'Art On The Faith Trail' group exhibition at primarily St Davids Cathedral, and also at Mathry Church, Pembrokeshire.
The Art on the Faith Trail show at St Davids was repeated for 2018 (it is an annual event), and he was offered and accepted membership status of the group that year. Also in 2018 he was invited to show at the Queens Hall Gallery Narberth Summer Open. Also at the Fishguard Arts Society Summer Open. 
     From August 2018 he has been exhibiting at the PureArt Gallery, Milford Haven Marina.
     In spring 2019  he became acting secretary for the 2019 'Art On The Faith Trail' group exhibition at St Davids Cathedral and associated Pembrokeshire churches.

 

 

 

 

      Notes:

( I have tried to the best of my ability to record only what I remember of these events and to be as factual as possible)

 

     * In addition to these and many other works, at the age of 13 he drew a life size three quarter length self portrait in charcoal: 'Self portrait at Thirteen and a half' ( see 'Gallery' this website...'Early Work' section).

     Also, at the age of sixteen, while recovering from a serious attack of scarlet fever, he painted in oils on his bedroom wall at 444 Pinner Road, N. Harrow, a landscape taken from a drawing of the village of Helford, south Cornwall: 'Helford Passage', size: 6ft 8” x 12ft.

    This may by now have been destroyed,  painted  or wallpapered over, however photographs were taken, which are intended to be added to the gallery page of this website in due course.

 

     **  Pinner County Grammar was also Elton John's school. Pinkerton's brother Roger ( who also went to Pinner County) knew him as 'fatty Dwight' from the class above, who always had a lot of of records. It was also Simon Le Bon, Lead singer of the 1980's pop music group 'Duran Duran''s secondary school.

 

*** He was assisted in mounting this show by Mike Nightingale and his then wife Angela. Mike went on to be director of Nightingale Associates, Hospital Architects, and is currently director of the Nightingale Foundation.

 

**** There is a Wikipedia page devoted to Jon Thompson.

     In my last few days at Goldsmiths, I remember Jon Thompson took me for a tour round the college, and bought me a meal. He told me that day :  'We've treated you very badly Austen.'

      Andrew Brighton, I remember, told me I was 'unteachable', and that 'you came, you saw, you conquered', and that he 'didn't think they would show my work at the Tate at the present given the current  climate in the art world'.  (How right he was).

    By rights after leaving Goldsmiths I should have gone on to take a Masters degree at the Royal College of Art, but after two years at architecture college, and three years at Goldsmiths, I had had enough of college life. This was exacerbated by the strain I personally felt due to the isolation of the painting department from the main college buildings, and the depressing environment they were in. I realise now that by the third year there I was suffering a mild nervous breakdown as a result.               Perhaps if I'd gone to the Royal College things might have turned out differently. However I must also add that I felt much more 'at home' amongst architects than with artists. I made lasting friends at Oxford , which I did not at Goldsmiths.

 

***** Shortly after leaving Goldsmiths he was taken on by Authentic Interiors, a public house interior design firm connected to H. Bradford, a building firm dating back to the late 1700's

      At Authentic Interiors he was sole assistant to designer Laurie Kirkland, who had been in partnership in the 1930's with one of the foremost cinema interior designers of that 
time and had worked on many cinema projects. I  remember Laurie showing me some of his drawings....splendid things like complete interiors on an 'Islamic Architecture or Alhambra' 
theme. As far as I know these drawings were all destroyed when the firm was taken over. 
     Laurie had also worked for Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh on refurbishing their house. 
     I asked him what his impression had been of Olivier and Leigh. He replied that : ' They were very nice '. 

 

****** I kept a record that the  exhibitions organiser at the Hornimans had desribed my sculpture as 'Etching in Three Dimensions', which I thought was interesting.

 

*******There is a Wikipedia page devoted to Major Forbes. Search for 'Hamish Forbes'. I have not given him his full title which was : 

 

 Major Sir Hamish Stewart Forbes, 7th Baronet, MBE, MC, KStJ 

        I remember the Major telling me, (on more than one occasion), that he was a friend of  Lord Louis Mountbatten.    

    The Major was also a very good artist in his own right. I remember him showing me a sculpture he'd done, and thinking how good it was. 

    Once he sent me through the post, a propos of nothing, a cartoon he'd found, in Punch or Private Eye perhaps, of a wife saying to her husband, who is standing looking rather lost, : 

'You look restless Forbes, why don't you go to an all-night Disco?'

     I completed two large commissions for Major Forbes. The first 'Archway with view of Castle Courtyard', 72" x 48", Acrylic on Aluminium, was  based on a photograph he gave me of  the English Tower at Bodrum Castle, Turkey, which was built by the Knights of the Order of St John in the Middle Ages.

     With the second 'A Greek Tragedy', 81" x 48", Acrylic on Ply, I was asked to paint a sliding wardrobe panel in any subject I wanted. 

     I believe both pictures were eventually moved to Scotland.