Inspired by Spanish musician
INTERNATIONAL contemporary artist Nicholas Eastwood has been awarded a rare and distinguished medal in recognition of his paintings celebrating the work of the late blind Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo.
Although Nicholas is based in Pinhoe, Exeter, his abstract paintings and ceramics are very much influenced by his travels abroad, and a love of classical and flamenco music.
Just over 10 years ago, he was commissioned to create a series of nine new major works for the Royal Festival Hall in London for a concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra depicting the ranging of styles of music by Rodrigo.
The event was attended by the composer's daughter, Countess Cecilia Rodrigo, and since then Nicholas has continued to produce paintings inspired by his music.
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In recognition of those works, Nicholas was recently invited to Spain to join the Rodrigo family for dinner, and much to his surprise he was presented with the Schott Medal from the Rodrigo Foundation.
"I was totally speechless," admits Nicholas. "The medal is awarded for services to Rodrigo's music and I think only 10 have been given so far. One of the recipients was the King of Spain so I am very proud to be among them.
"I have been very lucky at various turning points in my life. One of those was when I met my French wife in 1978 and she introduced me to the south of France.
"The second was when I worked at the University of Exeter and I met Raymond Calcraft, the head of the Spanish department who is also a world authority on the music of Rodrigo.
"I didn't know much about classical music then and he suggested I listen to Rodrigo's Aranjuez, one of his most well-known concertos, and it led from there.
"It was Raymond who asked if I could do the series of paintings for the Royal Festival Hall concert. While I listened to Rodrigo's music in my studio I conveyed what I heard through my paintings. For one called The Cantico of St Francis it shows how the music goes from almost nothing and then gradually into a crescendo."
Although Nicholas' work has now had a long association with Rodrigo, it is only a small part of the art he creates.
Each year Nicholas produces about 1,000 drawings in his studio and only the very best make it on to canvas.
"I paint all sorts of other subjects," explains Nicholas. "I'm an abstract painter whose work is very, very highly coloured, but I also paint representationally and I also work with ceramics.
"At the moment I'm working on a series of paintings from photographs I took in 1960 in Paris. I've done about 200 drawings already. It's very autobiographical because that's where I held my first exhibition in 1969, and it shows scenes such as markets which don't exist anymore."
Nicholas was the head and co-founder of the audio-visual section at Exeter University's library, in particular the history of fine art slide library.
He retired when he was 60 and has since dedicated his time to his love of art.
For more examples of Nicholas' work, visit www.nicholaseastwood.com