James Hamilton

James Hamilton


8th - 25th May



What makes James Hamilton’s watercolours so immediately appealing? Clearly his bright optimistic colours applied with such competence have a lot to do with it. Then there is the subject matter. Places we might well be familiar with from our own travels in England, southern Europe and beyond. He has also an eye for the unexpected. The way a field of bulbs can look like strips of alternating colour, or the circle of light which contains the happy people on the Big Wheel, or the way moored yachts lie contentedly in a harbour.

But it is more than that. First it is his personal distillation of a place – notes may be taken on the spot or even plein air sketches, but it is James’s reaction to the characteristics of a particular moment that is so thrilling. The way the sky inter reacts with the coastline at Chesil Beach casting shadows that even Eric Ravilious would be jealous of across the shingle.

Then there is the nature of his style. For a man who has spent his life looking at paintings there are natural echoes of others – the colour beginnings of Turner or indeed the immediacy of sketches by Constable, but his art is very much his own. It has the delight one can find in early twentieth century painters such as Dufy. The works have an almost musical quality, the colours and lines springing up and jostling with one another like a piece of piano music by Erik Satie. The effervescence of his style bubbles up like champagne – has the town of Collioure ever looked so inviting?

As it is, in these characteristics lie their delight. The works give enduring pleasure. Whilst they have an immediacy that pulls one in, the outcome of such distillation and skill means that every time you return to James’s pictures they give you renewed enjoyment. They remind you of your own happiness on encountering a view or spending time in a particular place. They conjure up a moment – a moment you can continue to enjoy.

James Miller, 2024

James Hamilton