by Alicia Clegg – November 2007
Painting the town
As an aspiring painter it might have been logical for Francis Hamel (Francis Hamel – Cooke, Magdalen 1982) to have gone to art school where he could have counted on the company of fellow artists. Instead, he chose to study at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, the University’s department of fine art. ‘I didn’t respond well to the idea of being pigeon-holed. I wanted to be surrounded by a wider community of people doing different things. Also, I wanted to learn how to draw, which was a particular strength of the Ruskin.’
Today, as a professional artist, Hamel exhibits publicly and is collected internationally by clients ranging from Goldman Sachs to Sir Trevor Nunn and Sir Cameron Mackintosh. He works in a loose, expressive representational style, which is underpinned by close observation and the drawing skills that he mastered as a student.
A lifelong admirer of the painters of the Italian Renaissance, whom he studied first hand on a travel grant from Magdalen, Hamel has a particular love for mural work. Recently, he had the opportunity to indulge this passion on a grand scale, when Fortnum & Mason asked him to produce a series of large paintings to crown the refurbishment of their shop in Piccadilly. The installation, consisting of English and Italian landscapes, food-related themes and streetscapes, has now been hung and is available for anyone visiting the store mto enjoy. ‘All the ideas came from me’ says Hamel. ‘The joy was being able to paint what I wanted, but on a much larger scale and with a bigger visual effect than normal.’
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