Brian Rice

Painter and Printmaker

Brian Rice
(L to R 'Red Square' 2015; 'Wilbur' 2016; 'Zipway' 2015)

Open Studio Dorset Artweeks May 28th - June 12th Venue 168
Every day 10.30 - 4.30 except Thursdays.

Redhaus by Brian Rice
('Redhaus' 2015)

The distinguished West Country artist Brian Rice, as well as opening his studio for Dorset Artweeks (May 28 - June 12), will this year be celebrating his 80th birthday in August with the publication of the first complete catalogue of his paintings. Brian Rice: Paintings 1952-2016 covers his work over the last 64 years.

Born in Yeovil, Rice grew up in Tintinhull and Montacute. He attended Yeovil School of Art and became friends with fellow artist Derek Boshier. In the 1960s, Rice was at the heart of the London art scene, producing some of the era's most groundbreaking paintings and prints. As part of the crowd around the Royal College of Art that included David Hockney, Peter Blake, Joe Tilson, Allen Jones and Boshier, he mingled with fashion designers, rock musicians and models. Film director Michelangelo Antonioni interviewed him when researching the background for Blow Up. His works were part of the fabric of the times and appeared in many TV commercials, fashion shoots and set designs.

In the mid-1970s, Rice left the pressures of London and retreated to his roots in the West Country, more or less giving up painting for a while. He bought a 50-acre sheep farm on the flanks of Eggardon Hill near Bridport and taught part-time at Brighton College of Art (now University of Brighton). Working the land he discovered Bronze Age archaeological remains and an 18th-century Donyatt pottery dish painted with the face of a Green Man, a symbol of rebirth. His finds inspired a new artistic direction, focused on the landscape and ancient traces of habitation.

Rice's life and art merged in the early 1980s when he sold the farm and bought a dilapidated 15th-century house at Hewood on the Dorset/Devon/Somerset borders. He was to spend the next 35 years restoring New House, uncovering fascinating traces of its past including inscriptions and items of folk magic. His commitment nurtured his artistic resurgence, producing mature artworks imbued with a sense of place and deep connection to nature.

In 1995 he held his first exhibition for 20 years. The solo show at The Meeting House in Ilminster was followed in 1998 by his 'Art and Archaeology' solo exhibition at Somerset County Museum in Taunton, where he displayed his works alongside his numerous finds from the New House restoration, including around 20,000 shards of pottery. Exhibitions in London, St Ives and Dorset ensued, including a highly successful retrospective of his 1960s work at the Redfern Gallery in Cork Street in 2014.

In 2013, Rice published a catalogue raisonné of prints, the companion piece to the forthcoming paintings catalogue, which is out on his birthday, 12 August.