relationship between Bryan Pearce and Beaux Arts predates the opening in
1980 of the gallery in Bath, as Reg and Patricia Singh first exhibited his
work in their Wills Lane Gallery in St. Ives in 1974, with his first solo
show there in 1977. A regular in group displays, there have been three
one-man exhibitions of Bryan’s work at Beaux Arts since 1989. Though
St. Ives and the Penwith peninsula have undergone the radical and inexorable
development typical of a coastal area so blessed by natural beauty,
Bryan’s familiar ochre lines, Smeaton’s pier with the arches, the tiled
studio window sill, the unmistakable harbour and church scenes, the trawlers
and seagulls; all are part of the artistic bricks and mortar of this charmed
and magical place.
Bryan Pearce’s work is in part a
testament to those who have nurtured and encouraged him over the years, in
particular his mother Mary, who in bringing home a Woolworths colouring book
set in motion an incredible 50 years of painting and drawing.
It was Mary who, in the same year, 1953, first took Bryan along to
Leonard Fuller’s class at the St. Ives School of Painting, so that he
could be ‘kept occupied’. It
was also Mary who, in converting the attic for her own painting,
inadvertently provided Bryan with his first studio.
In giving so readily of herself, Mary
Pearce allowed Brian to express his singular account of the world, oblivious
and uninterested in the work of others, uninfluenced and undisturbed by the
ripples of forerunners and contemporaries.
Bryan’s unique brick by brick visions of St. Ives, rendered with
such careful attention, owe much to the peace of mind he gained from
painting. His gentle mixing and
application of paint is something we would now call ‘therapy’, though
Mary had a more succinct way of putting it: ‘Colours do you so much
Keats described ‘the sweet converse of an innocent mind’ as ‘almost
the highest bliss of human-kind’. The work of Bryan Pearce is the
most glittering of silver linings. It is incredible to think that we
could so easily have been deprived of this sweet converse. A
mother’s devotion, the serendipitous discovery of his talent, the
subsequent nurturing and appreciation of his ability, the dedication of
Janet Axten on behalf of the Bryan Pearce Trustees; all are matters worthy
of celebration in this exhibition, in his seventy-fifth year, his fiftieth
as an artist. Long may it last.