During Oxfordshire Artweeks 2019, Cecily's Fund will host a special exhibition for the first time. Acclaimed painter Raymond Martinez will exhibit some of his works at Warwick Hall, Burford, on May 25th and 26th. Ahead of this exciting event, we spoke to Raymond about how he became an artist, and the inspiration for his unique work.
How and why did you become a painter?
I was born in Barry, South Wales . As a child I loved to draw and paint the beauty of my local area. The headmaster of my grammar school forced me to take the exam in one year instead of two as he disliked my independent nature. My art teacher was brilliant. As my father was killed in the war my art teacher became my mentor. He sent all my work to the Vale of Glamorgan Art Scholarship committee. The awarded me a four year bursary enabling me to take my degree at Cardiff College of Art. Without this I would have been unable to continue to study art.
You studied at the Slade School of Fine Art. What was it like to be there at that time?
London and the Slade were very different to living in Wales. It was very stimulating being in London with all the museums and galleries at hand. Being able to meet professional artists who visited the Slade was also very rewarding,, including Ceri Richards, Keith Vaughan, Philip Sutton, and Stanley Spencer.
How would you describe your experience of entering the art world after graduation?
After graduation I was awarded a post-graduate year and then I won an Italian scholarship enabling me to paint full time in Italy. The work I produced was reviewed by the directors of The Lefebvre Gallery, in Bruton Street, W1. They offered me a one-man show to take place every two years. This allowed me to paint full time independently.
How would you describe the work you will be showing at Oxfordshire Art Weeks?
The work to be shown will include paintings from my time in Italy and the seascapes I have produced since returning to the UK. These works will include a variety of media, oil on canvas, acrylic, and oil pastels.
In recent years you have returned to Wales, after working for years in Italy. Do you have a favourite place you’ve painted?
In Italy the Tuscan landscape dominated my work. In Wales the sea has once again become the focus of my interest. Recently I was fortunate enough to be invited to exhibit in Barry’s Town Hall Gallery. The work shown covered a long period from my childhood to my most recent sea works, many of which are oil pastels of the Welsh coastline.
Your work has been shown round the world. Is there a particular exhibition that has meant a lot to you?
My first exhibition at The Lefebvre Gallery was the one I remember most vividly, since I met a number of famous people from all backgrounds. This included such well known individuals as the painter L.S. Lowry, the actor Robert Morley, and the writer Francis Durbridge. At this point in time I realised I had progressed from being a student to a professional artist.
Do you ever find it difficult to part with your paintings when they are sold?
Over the years I have kept a number of works from the different periods of my production. These I will not sell. Others sold, I hope will help the buyers to see the world in a different way.
We look forward to welcoming you at the exhibition on May 25th and 26th. We're very grateful to Raymond Martinez for exhibiting and for taking part in this interview. 85% of the proceeds from all sales at the exhibition will go to Cecily's Fund, to support our work helping Zambians build better futures for themselves.