J.A.Swarbrick-Banks BA.MA.


About imageAbout image
Professional Fine Art Painter since 1992
 Lyrical Abstraction

Medium:  Oils (traditional practice)

Studio:  South West England

August 1959 London


Baccalaureate Degree    Fine Art Painting
Academie Minerva. Groningen. The Netherlands. Graduated 1992

Master of Art    Post Graduate Degree     Fine Art Painting
School of Art, University of Aberystwyth, Wales.  Graduated 2019

Artist in Residence to Coventry Cathedral 2012, the 50th Jubilee Year of the new cathedral
Commissioned directlky to paint the portrait of The Very Reverend John Irvine.
2002 - 2012
This painting hangs in the provost's vestry in the cathedral.

During my year at Coventry, I accomplished several projects including abstract oil paintings inspired by and in celebration of the 50th Jubilee consecration of the new Cathedral designed by (Sir) Basil Spence.
The stained glass especially the Baptistry Window by John Piper, the magnificent and affecting tapestry of Christ by Graham Sutherland and the bombed out ruins adjacent will always remain within me.
A most enriching and enjoyable experience.

Inspiration and Methodology

Since graduating in 1992, I have concentrated on 21st century Lyrical Abstraction. Combining my own quirks alongside traditional techniques working from dark to light. Originally trained as a portrait painter, during my Masters I felt I needed to open up to convey a more spiritual level. A breakthrough came by studying Claude Lorrain, Richard Wilson and J.M.W. Turner but also living rurally in the Dyfi valley in Mid Wales.

Breaking free from the urge to produce accurate reproductions, I began to explore painting mood and memory of landscape. This change of direction was greatly enhanced by a friendship with a classical musician who introduced me to Stravinsky, Messiaen and Pärt, more recently the work of Philip Glass and British folk music is very inspiring. "Minimal" music is used to create an atmosphere in the studio, from sound a painting gradually emerges and evolves analogous to a movement in music...

After the initial preparation of the substrate, I focus on blank white canvas, on silence and stillness. Within this mediative state, a memory of place might come to mind: a comment, a photograph, poem, book, a bird's song or indeed a piece of music. Rich ideas choose colour-ways and suggest a direction.

I rarely approach the canvas with a preconceived plan preferring atmospheric residue from the "root-source" to start forming the embryonic painting. The senses also play an important role, aroma; especially of turpentine and linseed oil . The careful ritual of laying out my palette offers a sense of security, a base.

Over the years, painting has gradually become a transcendental state, almost a compulsion. I often feel as if I am channeling something... in control but wide open to notions and accidents.
I take painting very seriously, I use only oils. I feel that oil paint has an integrity that other mediums cannot replicate. I feel a conduit for something that exists beyond death. I have no conclusion or narrative (usually) in mind: the painting dictates its own path and there is much stopping and observing in silence as there is in actual painting time. At a given point I instinctively understand it is time to stop. It then exists on its own without my involvement and I can break free. Only then do I attempt to understand the work. A title will come to mind and it has its own identity at last.

I consider paintings to be visual seeds of suggestion, aids to open channels via colour and form in paint that might lead and irrigate a more lateral comprehension of existence.


I am usually contacted for painting portraits and buildings although I am open to work on all sorts of projects. I enjoy discussing all sorts of projects with clients specially free ranging commissions. This might be a person, a poem, a memory, book, event or a piece of music...
I work in oils but I am very happy to offer work in other materials if required.

Back Catalogue

Although most of my work is privately commissioned and collected, I have publicly exhibited in the Netherlands and the UK since 1992 most notably Galerie Pictura in Groningen - the oldest gallery in the Netherlands and most recently Clare Hall, Cambridge University where the Head of the Art Committee is Professor Frances Spalding CBE, FRSL.

Private Tutor 
Fine Art Painting and Drawing: Portraiture, Landscape, Genre, Abstraction.
All levels.
One to one tuition online or private lessons in Devon and Cornwall.

If you would like a non-committal quote regarding commissioning a drawing or a painting or just more information about future projects, feel free to drop me a line. I consider commissions in all subjects.

2023  exhibitions:  Clare Hall, Cambridge University.
9th March - 27th April 2023
Transcendental Landscapes
A series of oils inspired by the Dyfi River and surrounding landscape of Mid-Wales.
Clare Hall
Herschel Road

The Causley Festival 2023, Launceston

I will be involved with a workshop, talks and unveiling a recent commission based on poetry at this year's festival. Please support the festival in any shape or form to keep Charles Causley's heritage and beautiful poetry at the fore!
Thank you

Photograph of Jill Swarbrick-Banks in the studio taken by Dave Swarbrick 2010

Exhibition at Clare Hall, Cambridge 10/3/23 - 27/4/23 Herschel Road. Cambridge CB3 9AL Tel: 01223 332360 porters@clarehall.cam.ac.ukj

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Ten years after... My oil portrait of the (then) leaving Dean of Coventry Cathedral, the Very Reverend John Irvine in their jubilee year 2012. The portrait is in the Provost's Vestry and I hadn't seen it framed and in situ until this Christmas Eve when I revisited the Cathedral. Very many thanks indeed to the kindness and time of Michelle, Tim and priest Carolyn for enabling me to visit my painting once more!

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portrait of Lisa Cunningham-Allsop 2018 oils on canvas 70cm x 70cm (approx)

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A magical feature, the old Mill Race at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire. The growth of very mature trees such as Oak and Ash with hawthorn and blackthorn crowding around has immense beauty... The real scene is one of gentle gradual decay and inevitable disintegration, this Mill Race is a remarkable remnant of Kenilworth Castle's medieval history. It is situated above what was once the Great Meer (Lake) which snaked around the castle and out over what is now pasture for cattle and a pleasant countryside walk. Indeed, cattle wander up to use the Race as shelter from inclement weather. Queen Elizabeth I, as guest of Robert Dudley in the 1500s was rowed across the Great Meer on a prestigious royal visit to Kenilworth. On dog walks, I regularly walked the Race on early frosty winter mornings. I later drew my memory of the Race in pen and ink over three days. Thank you.

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The Fairport Coven, Deddington, Oxon.

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