Artwork of the Month: May

May's Artwork of the Month has been chosen by Mark Prescott RWA. He has picked Night Terrace by Henry Cliffe from the RWA Permanent Collection. Mark writes:

Henry Cliffe taught lithography in the 1950’s and 60’s at the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, a college recognised for its innovative approach to art education attracting some of the leading artists of the day.

I was a student there in the mid 60’s and remember how the texture, colour and structure of Henry Cliffe’s abstract prints caught my imagination. He also painted and his oil Night Terrace in the RWA collection hovers between abstract and figurative modes of expression. The use of a dominant colour ground is reminiscent of Matisse. In this case, an intense blue/green is punctuated by opaque and translucent shapes with hints of contrasting warm tones. The colour palette evokes a strong sense of a particular place. 

The composition appears limited to the picture plane but the small bright rectangle of light in the centre animates the scene creating a feeling of depth. The eye is lead from the foliage in the foreground across a wide open expanse, perhaps a river, to the area of light on the opposite bank where a faint silhouette of a person could be identified. Is there a party on a terrace or maybe someone enjoying the stillness of the evening? Perhaps the terrace is unseen in front of the foreground in the viewer’s space and the lights belong to a river boat making its way downstream.

The location of Night Terrace is not named but for me it evokes many vivid memories of a visit I made in the late 1970’s to the Ganges Delta.

Henry Cliffe's painting will be on display on our upstairs landing throughout the month of May.