J. A. Swarbrick Banks


Jill Swarbrick Banks                                                           


professional since: 1992
born: London 1959
medium: Oils
studio: Cornwall. UK

lyrical abstraction

Definition of Agency by the Artist

I work exclusively with the best oil paints. There is simply no other medium like it - to my mind - for conveying atmosphere. I may add that its longevity is also well established.
The substrate is always extra fine linen.
Anything else has been won by hard work, practise and keeping an open mind.

My aim is simple and analogous to music or acting or poetry et cetera, I use oil paint in attempt to escort the viewer to reach a different realm of existence.
Titles of paintings are merely trigger points to help focus one onto the shelf of my original inspiration or and intention. Each painting should exist in its own right thereafter and feed a perpetual enjoyment.
It is not in any way, shape or form about the ghastly phrase "expressing myself" or the pompous "making of marks",  I tune into a vibration of sorts and the painting suggests its own path. I feel but a conduit within a process. I only know a painting is successful and ultimately concluded because suddenly, it somehow sings back to me...!

My late husband the musician and composer Dave Swarbrick was often asked how he produced his unique sound and seemingly effortless technique on the violin. His answer was beautiful and always the same "Practise ".
 I totally agree but I would also add something else;  "attitude".

I think big dangers in (all) the Arts are attitude, complacency and ego.
However, the truth is that attitude, ego and arrogance we all have and they are arguably necessary if one is serious about progress.
Ego is a driver. Especially in the early years when you taste a bit of interest in your work and success, but it shouldn't lead you astray careering forever in a single direction. It is very useful though for a necessary feeling of self-belief.
Complacency is a knock-on from ego and can, if left to run wild, lead to a stagnation. Most artists go through this stage and some of us repetitively!
Attitude is what sets one practitioner apart from another. I try to hold on to the thought that the next painting will be greater and take me up another level.  Always trying to look up and forwards.

Enjoy your moment when that last painting you create takes your breath away but try to hang on to the notion that your next  painting will be even greater, I think that's a very important mindset. This is not ego or complacency, it is purely wisdom because you know in your heart that the ultimate painting is in fact, totally unachievable!
Painting for me is making people happy. Without an audience where is the fun...?


B.A. Baccalaureate degree  fine art painting

Kunst Academie 'Minerva'. 
Ged.Zuiderdiep te Groningen. 
The Netherlands. 
1988 -1992

M.A. Master of Art  post graduate degree  fine art painting

School of Art, University of Aberystwyth.
2017 - 2019

Artist in Residence to Coventry Cathedral in their golden jubilee year 2012.
Commissioned to record the celebrations during the year of the 50th anniversary consecration of the new cathedral.

Also commissioned to paint the portrait of their leaving Dean the Very Reverend John Irvine.
Dean to Coventry Cathedral: 2002 - 2012
The portrait currently hangs in the provost's vestry alongside all former Deans who have served the new building. A portrait of the leaving Dean is a tradition to Coventry.

During a very happy year at Coventry, Jill accomplished several projects including several abstract paintings inspired by and in celebration of the 50th jubilee celebrations.

The breathtaking kaleidoscope of stained glass that lines the cathedral wings and the Baptistry Window by John Piper in particular deeply resonates with Jill; "they are pure hope personified". The magnetic draw of the Graham Sutherland tapestry of Christ profoundly humbling the moment one glimpses it entering from the West Screen clear engraved glass panels known as the 'angel' windows designed and engraved by the artist John Hutton, all these combined elements Jill will still affirm were the bedrock of opening the door to "running with the imagination" in her practice.


Jill's first steps into Art were to enrol on an elementary part-time art course run by a local artist Ms. Bobby Smith in Kew, Richmond upon Thames, Surrey. However the real spark to pick up brushes and paint came after reading the biography of the socialite painter "GLUCK" aka Hannah Gluckstein by Diana Souhami. "I was utterly transfixed at the power and subtle beauty of Gluck's painting. She was a complete maverick for her times, an odd-ball and her life and work became a bit of an obsession. I wanted to learn to paint more than anything!"

After a two year art and design course in East London, Jill's practice began in earnest studying for her Baccalaureate degree (Fine Art Painting) in the Netherlands in the late 1980s studying fine art painting and artists at the Academie Minerva Kunst Academie. She graduated in 1992. It was here in Groningen that she discovered the work of Czech painter Franz Kupka. Spurred on to survive long periods of homesickness for the British countryside went on to a dedicated period studying Samuel Palmer but also abstracted landscapes by Graham Sutherland, in particular, his work based on the welsh countryside became a major fascination during Jill's decade in the Netherlands. However after concentrating on portraiture and genre, upon her repatriation to England in 1998 her last years have been focused on discovering "possible" techniques of Turner.

In 2019 saw Jill graduate with a Masters Degree (distinction) at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University, Cymru ( Wales).
This period gave Jill the opportunity to stretch her painting from a more genre and portrait-centred practice
into a more lyrical abstraction of landscape and ephemeral themes.

A frequent comment attached to Jill's "lyrical abstraction and transcendental landscape" work produced since the mid 2010s, which leading biographer and art historian professor Frances Spalding CBE, FRSL has described as "formidable”. Her paintings seem to take on remarkably subliminal qualities.
Jill herself would affirm that she is very much "my own painter and no copyist” and ploughs her own furrow with a deep seated love for oil paint and its potential to create atmosphere.


A polymath and at home in all genres of painting Jill is also known for achieving stunning portraits as well as her lyrically abstracted landscapes, however she especially enjoys discussing challenging projects face to face with clients particularly appreciating free ranging open-ended ideas and commissions.

Back Catalogue

Although most of her work is privately commissioned and collected, she has publicly exhibited in the Netherlands and the UK since 1992 most notably Galerie Pictura in Groningen - one of the oldest galleries 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 
NVQ Level 7 
fine art painting

Tuition in advanced (oils) painting, covering portraiture, landscape, genre, abstraction.
One to one tuition in Devon and Cornwall.

Lecturer and Speaker
A unique and very personal approach to fine art painting with oils. Philosophy, Inspiration and Technique.

If you would like a non-committal quote regarding commissioning a painting or just curious and looking for more information about her future projects, do drop Jill a message via the contact page.

Curriculum Vitae
Contact us at FOXER Fine Art

Recent 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.
Curated by Professor Frances Spalding. FRSL, CBE.Clare Hall
Herschel Road

The Charles Causley Festival 
Launceston, Cornwall.

Southgate Arch
Exhibition of work by five professional artists, inspired by the poetry and prose of Charles Causley CBE, FRSL.
Dr. June Forster, Wayne Summers MA , Rachel Ricketts RBSA, Emma-Jayne Holmes BA, MA, Jill Swarbrick-Banks BA, MA

June 29th - July 2nd 2023, Launceston, Cornwall.

On Friday 30th June in the Town hall a commissioned painting : "Where Stone Runs Like Honey" inspired partly by the poem "Launceston Castle" by poet Anthony Vahni Capildeo ( the painting's title is actually a line from their poem ) was unveiled, during the Charles Causley Festival 2023.
Please support the festival in any shape or form to keep Charles Causley's heritage and beautiful poetry to the fore!

Cropredy Festival
Oxfordshire August 2023

FOXER FINE ART staged an exhibition of Jill's large oils at the festival.
Merchandise also offered were signed fine art giclée prints and greeting cards of her most recent work.

Personal life

Born in London in 1959
Raised in Oxshott, Surrey.

Parents: Wyn & Arthur Banks
Military cartographer & author

Partner: Alie Blok.

Civil partnership ( samen levings kontract)
Together from 1984 - until Alie's death in 1997
Born: Katwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands
Died: Groningen, The Netherlands
12/03/1961 - 02/10/1997

Last partner: Dave Swarbrick.

Musician and Composer.
Married in Coventry Register Office 6th February 1999 until Dave's death in 2016.
Born: Ewell, Surrey, England
Died: Aberystwyth, Cymru
5/4/1941 - 3/6/2016

With immense gratitude to ...

Stu Vincent, photographer
Black & white portrait photograph of Jill Swarbrick-Banks © Stu Vincent 2023

Jeremy Peters, photographer
Colour photographs from exhibition @ Clare Hall, Cambridge University © Jeremy Peters 2023

Ceunant / Gorge Hanging at last in its new home in Winchester as of yesterday 3/5/2024. Inspired by the slate moning industry of mid wales. Great to see it blazing away again!!

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