William Pullen, After Pontormo, Christ Meeting St Veronica On The Road To Calvary, watercolour, 2019

John Kinross Scholar in 1984

Having received the Scholarship in 1984, following my graduation from the Fine Art MA Degree at Edinburgh University & College of Art, I travelled to Florence in July, returning in September.

I have always regarded the time in Italy (my first trip there) as one of the defining experiences of my life, professionally and personally. I was at something of a crossroads as an artist, having graduated without any further specific plans in place, but wishing to continue creatively in a committed way. The only work I felt I could submit to the Scholarship administrators, as evidence of my activities, was a full sketch book and a long list of all the many museums, churches and monuments I explored across the city, and central Italy (mainly Tuscany and Umbria). Having specialised, for a year, in the study of Renaissance Art with the Art History department at the University, seeing all the artworks first hand was a particularly important and enlightening focus of my Scholarship months.

On my return to live and work in Cornwall, I immediately began to make egg tempera paintings based on the many black and white photographs I’d taken during the scholarship. These began with paintings based on the architecture of the Ducal Palace in Urbino, which had been recommended to me by my student friend and contemporary Joseph Sharples (also a Kinross Scholar in 1981). After becoming a professional artist in 1985, these tempera paintings formed the main body of my exhibiting work. Subjects drawn from central Italy subsequently became the main focus of my work. I have returned many times to travel in central Italy to continue developing new paintings.

My most recent trip, in October 2019, was centred on a long held ambition to make watercolour studies from the frescoes by Jacopo Pontormo in the Certosa del Galluzzo, just south of Florence. I was granted permission by the current custodians of the Certosa, and made a watercolour of sections of each of the five fresco lunettes there. These were made simply to explore new avenues as a painter,
but were directly descended from the scholarship experience, when I stayed in the
south area of the city.