Heath Hearn - It Could be Italy, oil on panel, 40x70cm
Framed size, 59x89cm
Heath was born in Chesterfield, near Sheffield, and grew up amongst the red brick houses of an urbanised post-industrial environment nestled amid the rolling and iconic landscape of Yorkshire, a dichotomy that has been apparent in his work ever since he started painting.
As an artist he is largely self-taught, having dropped out of Australia’s Perth College of Art and Design where he studied between 1983-1984. When he first started painting full time he was part of a loose group of artists working in Plymouth’s historic Barbican waterfront, among who were Robert Lenkiewicz, Louise Courtnell and Diane Nevitt. In 1998 he moved to Jersey where, inspired by his new surroundings, his work soon came to the attention of the island’s art collectors.
He returned to the UK in 2006 and since then has lived and worked on the beautiful grounds of the Edgcumbe Country Estate on the Rame Peninsula in south east Cornwall where his studio is a building converted from a 1930s tea house. Despite the bucolic setting, the Devonport dockyard and the sprawl of Plymouth are just across the water and the mix of the industrial and rural continue to be reflected in his work.
Heath professes himself as fascinated with the craft of abstraction but it is the bold use of colour and vigorous use of paint that first strike the observer and hold the attention. Heath’s work has been likened to the St Ives School, notably Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon and Ivon Hitchins. Other art historical threads that the viewer can glean include Fauvism and the Scottish Colourists, naïve primitivism and the more experimental Expressionists.
Heath says, "For many years I have lived and worked in Cornwall and like a lot of Cornish-based painters, I am an outsider looking in. All Celtic communities retain a certain character of independence and after living here for a while, you realise that Kernow really does belong to the Cornish. Living as an outsider can give rise to a type of solitary diffidence, not only from being alien to Cornwall’s traditions and way of life but also from its dark and rugged landscape. It is a landscape that evokes timelessness and takes the mind from itself, leaving only the moment. It is little wonder that for nearly a hundred years artists have relocated here."
Heath Hearn exhibits both nationally and internationally, his work is also held as part of the UK’s national art collection through the Jersey Museum.