Philip Hughes was born in London in 1936 and studied at Cambridge University. Self-taught as an artist, his vision has been shaped by extensive travel linked to a preoccupation with the structure of landscape and the archaeology of ancient cultures across six continents. In 1975 he spent a year in the Andean countries of South America and in Provence in Southern France. Over the past twenty years he has made working visits to Zanskar in the West Himalayas, the sites of importance in aboriginal cultures throughout Australia, pre-Columbian ceremonial sites from Cholula to Palenque and Monte Alban in Mexico and Tikal in Guatemala and a number of Anasazi sites in North America.
Philip Hughes has been represented by Francis Kyle Gallery since 1979 and has held twelve one-man exhibitions there, besides participating in the Gallery’s group projects from The Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (1991) to Lair of The Leopard: Twenty artists go in search of Lampedusa's Sicily (2005). In 1990 he was given a retrospective by the Museum and Art Gallery, Inverness. In 1998/9 a major retrospective of his work over some thirty years toured public galleries in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. In 2000 he showed The Tin Route at the Tate Gallery St. Ives, the exhibition subsequently travelling to The Musée du Châtillonais, Châtillon sur Seine and the University of Lecce (Galleria Memmo, Lecce, Apulia). The Elysian Garden: a cycle of lithographs with associated paintings was shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2001.
From 1988 until to 1992 Hughes served as a Council Member of the Royal College of Art and from 1990 to 1996 he sat on the Board of The Design Museum. From 1996 until 1999 he served as Chairman of the Trustees of the National Gallery, the first practising artist to hold this position.
1936aaaaaaaaBorn London, UK
1957aaaaaaaaHonours Degree, Cambridge University, UK
1969-91aaaaaCo-Founder of Logica plc
1975-76aaaaaSpent year travelling and painting in Andean countries
1979-89aaaaaFive exhibitions Francis Kyle Gallery, London
1981aaaaaaaaExtensive trek in Western Himalayas to visit Kingdom of Zanskar. Visit to Uluru and Olgas in Australia
1982aaaaaaaaVisit to pre-Columbian sites in Mexico
1987-92aaaaaMember of the Council of the Royal College of Art
1990aaaaaaaaRetrospective: Museum and Art Gallery, Inverness, Scotland
1990-96aaaaaMember of Board of Design Museum, London
1992aaaaaaaaFrancis Kyle Gallery, London
1994aaaaaaaaFrancis Kyle Gallery, London
1995aaaaaaaaExtensive visit to the north of Western Australia, Kimberley and the Bungle Bungles
aaaaaaaaaaaaaRetrospective: L’Ambassade d’Australie, Paris
1996-00aaaaaChairman, Board of Trustees of the National Gallery, London
1997aaaaaaaaFrancis Kyle Gallery, London
aaaaaaaaaaaaaMuseo de Arte Contemporaneo, MARCO, Monterrey, Mexico
1998aaaaaaaaPatterns in the Landscape: The Notebooks of PhilipHughes published by Thames & Hudson
aaaaaaaaaaaaaLesley Craze Gallery, London
aaaaaaaaaaaaaMuseo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico
aaaaaaaaaaaaaRetrospective: Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, Australia
1999aaaaaaaaRetrospective: Volvo Gallery, Sydney, Australia
aaaaaaaaaaaaaRetrospective: The George Adams Gallery, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, Australia
2000aaaaaaaaFrancis Kyle Gallery, London
aaaaaaaaaaaaaThe Tate Gallery, St Ives, Cornwall, UK
2000-02aaaaaTrustee of The National Gallery, London
2001aaaaaaaaThe Victoria and Albert Museum, London
aaaaaaaaaaaaaUniversity of Lecce, Memmo Gallery, Lecce, Italy
2001-02aaaaaVisiting Artist to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey
2002aaaaaaaaMusée du Châtillonais, Châtillon-sur-Seine, France
aaaaaaaaaaaaaDrill Hall Gallery, Canberra, Australia
2003aaaaaaaaFrancis Kyle Gallery, London
2007aaaaaaaaFrancis Kyle Gallery, London
2007-08aaaaaProject to do large drawings on site of the major stone circles of Scotland and England
2008aaaaaaaaDrill Hall Gallery, Canberra, Australia Charleston, near Lewes, East Sussex, UK
aaaaaaaaaaaaaThe Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney, Scotland
2009-10aaaaaWorking in collaboration with archaeologists researching in Orkney
2010aaaaaaaaFrancis Kyle Gallery, London
2012aaaaaaaaTracks: Walking the Ancient Landscapes of Britain published by Thames & Hudson
Philip Hughes’ work has long been rooted in his love of landscapes and this exhibition assembles painting and drawing from the three locations that have intrigued and haunted him most: Wiltshire and Orkney in Britain and Vaucluse in France. Like many British landscapists before him, Philip’s works first take form as drawings, and the spare, sinuous, ambling line remains always the essence of his images, even those to which he later adds colour.
If there is thread uniting these works it is the way man places his mark upon the landscape: both physically—by erecting great mounds of earth and lines of standing stones, by cultivating it, and by marking paths through it with coloured symbols; and conceptually—by drawing it, mapping it and, in recent times, by using scientific techniques to image the ancient remains still buried in the ground.
Philip’s antiquarian interests, particularly in the standing stones, ridgeways and barrows of Wiltshire and Orkney, take us back to the origins of the British landscape drawing, both picturesque and topographical. The monuments of Britain’s prehistoric past – “the installation art of 5,000 years ago,” as he says, weathered and melted over the ages to become itself part of nature’s domain—have much the same emotive magnetism to him that ancient Rome and Athens did to the romantics. Until the advent of photography, drawing was the only way to record their likenesses and positions on a map; and such drawing served a scientific as well as an artistic aim. Today new imaging techniques allow archaeologists to see into a barrow or under the ground, and works like Maes Howe and Brodgar Circle: Green create a new fusion of the analytical and the artistic by juxtaposing his drawings with maps and modern resistivity images. This time however the analytical elements serve an ultimately artistic purpose rather than vice versa.
The views of Mts Luberon and Ventoux, the world Philip has looked out on for over 30 years from his house, reflect the brighter light and dramatically coloured seasonality of France. Here again it is when man makes accidentally aesthetic interventions that his interest is drawn: the splashes of colour on tree trunks that mark the trails through the Luberon. These interventions, like those of ancient man in Britain, are of a kind that was still in balance with nature—a balance we have so spectacularly lost.
Timothy Potts, Director, The Fitzwilliam Museum,
© Francis Kyle Gallery. All Rights Reserved