Peter Austin grew up in Dorset and studied painting at Bournemouth Municipal College of Art. In 1962, following the award of a travelling scholarship, he went to live in Sweden where he was able to paint and to exhibit. In 1965 he returned to Bournemouth to complete an art education course. Since 2006,following retirement from his career as art teacher, schools inspector and senior examiner, he has concentrated on advancing his own work.
The coast of Dorset provided the subjects for his earliest paintings. At that time he was interested in Lanyon’s “flight” paintings of Cornwall and the use of a high skyline. This seemed to be an approach that was particularly appropriate for paintings of cliff top views at Portland and Lulworth. But North Buckinghamshire, where he has lived since 1972, presented different challenges and he has spent much time working with ways of responding to its big skies and the sometimes melancholic silence of a relatively flat and open landscape. This has led to a series of paintings which perhaps refer back to other early works inspired by the not dissimilar landscape of southern Sweden.
A more recent series of paintings, however, some of which are exhibited here, mark a return to the landscape of Dorset and especially that area between Puddletown Forest and Winfrith, which Thomas Hardy referred to as “Egdon Heath” - an “untameable place” with “an antique brown dress”.
In an interview for Art of England magazine, Peter Austin said “my work has always seemed to hover on the boundaries of abstraction and figuration . . . sometimes moving one way and then sometimes the other. For me, the visual starting point is important, but I like to suggest rather than to describe in the literal sense. I am not interested in illustration.”
Egdon Heath Series No.8 80 x 100 cms.
Low Tide, West Fleet 30 x 30 cms.
Egdon Heath Series No.4 30 x 30 cms.