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Cyril Croucher

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Grandparents usually have a crucial role in painting vivid pictures of a bygone era in the hearts and minds of the young, when they’re not plying them with fizzy pop and an unhealthy smorgasbord of calorific cake delights invented by Mr Kipling. And acclaimed contemporary landscape artist, Cyril Croucher’s grandmother was no exception it seems. Verbally weaving spellbinding tales a plenty that – as any good tales do – morphed reality with fantasy, some of Croucher’s earliest memories proved to be inspirational several years down the line, when he set about fusing his trademark pastel saturations and hues with his recurrent shadowy figures and darkened passageways and Cornwall-esque architectural entrances. Muted greens, pinks, greys and blue tones of granite feature prominently, as you look out upon his acrylic-on-board compositions. From granite fishermen’s cottages to tiny alleyways that permeate this otherwise safe haven of traditional harbours, Croucher illustratively instils a sense of history and mythology in equal measure as he recreates what he sees in collaboration with his grandmother’s tall tales.

Born in 1951 in Shoeburyness (which admittedly sounds like a made up place found in the pages of a children’s novel), it is in fact an actual location discovered on England’s south-east coast in the shire of Essex. After graduating from the nearby Southend-on-Sea Art College during the swinging sixties, Croucher went about the business of establishing a name for himself as a professional artist. Two things stopped Croucher in his artistic tracks though, one of considerably less importance than the other, yet both colluding to shape his immediate future. Those events were the passing of his father and a general empathy with his (then) creative output. So, in Croucher’s own disheartened words, he stopped painting then and there and; “re-joined the real world and got a proper job”.

A proper job materialised as obtaining a traditional trade, and for the following two decades Croucher worked in various industries, including boat building and gardening, before finally settling on a career as a property surveyor. As for his painting, well, Croucher only returned to that when in recent history he relocated to Cornwall with his own family, where he happened to find himself in a better place, eventually; both geographically and emotionally it’s fair to say. But then, it was always written in the stars, given the volume of inspirational material he could effortlessly recount and mine from his youth. Croucher’s new and immediate environ did its bit in inspiring him to pick up the paint brushes once more though too. Yet what potential painter wouldn’t be influenced by such ready vistas of picture postcard cottages, boats and generally quaint harbour panoramas left, right and centre-stage. Thus Croucher’spresent style was born and began to evolve.

Together with his wife, Croucher purchased Mousehole’s (we know, another possible made-up name that of course clearly isn’t) Millpool Art Gallery and extended it for studio purposes, whilst when the time came using it as the perfect shop window for his becoming new art. From that moment forward, Croucher’s not looked back; with his work growing in popularity at an amazing rate, whilst what’s more, Croucher’s held numerous successful exhibitions across the South West of England. Now when asked as to what he feels he gets out of his painting, Croucher doesn’t hesitate to respond with the one, simple word; “happiness”.

Looking to Croucher’s creative process and how it pans out, and the artist admits to creating a body of sketches initially, mulling over how they’ll eventually merge into the finished composition. Croucher suggests that he’s definitely not a literal painter, and seeks to proffer a different perspective on the world, very much affording us a visual interpretation of the way in which he sees it. Once he’s settled on where he wants to take the imagined piece, Croucher starts to lay down the ideas and concepts in his studio, preferring to apply his acrylics to board as hinted earlier, believing that the quick drying quality suits his style of painting. He may just have a point, as Croucher continues to construct layers of colour by perpetually administering a thin layer of paint, and then rubbing back until the colour is almost transparent to the eye; bringing this muted and understated depth to the final colouration.

Imparting the thoughts as well as the illustrative deeds behind his signature studies, Croucher concludes; “My new work grew out of a fascination with the height of harbour walls and the buildings which are often built on the harbours and quays. The sense of height one feels when looking up at the walls from inside the harbour gave me the feeling of looking upwards inside the immense space of a cathedral”. Going on, he adds; “I have tried to capture this feeling in my work together with other elements and memories from my past. I hope to create a sense of timelessness, calm and intrigue”.