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Julian Dyson (1936-2003)

The Falmouth Art Gallery describes Julian Dyson (1936 – 2003) as “a much loved and respected artist in Cornwall”. He brings images to life. His portraits and animal drawings fizz with vitality. His simple landscape line drawings reflect the weather. They tingle with a sense of a form not just seen but felt by the artist. His pencil drawings are somehow alert to the moment of being captured on paper, and this makes them good things to look at.

I like the idea of an artist being ‘much loved’ – it suggests a level of connectedness and engagement that is missing from ‘highly appreciated’ or ‘respected’. It gives a sense of Cornwall willing him on.

Dyson was born in St Mawes, a small village on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall opposite Falmouth. Trained as a dentist, Dyson was drawn to the arts and was a regular visitor to Falmouth Art Gallery. A perfect example of how important access to the arts is in inspiring dentists as well as the young, Dyson was increasingly drawn less to dentistry and more to describing through art the world around him. Dyson returned to St Mawes in 1983 and retired from dentistry in 1997.

His first solo show was in Southampton in 1972 at the Hansard Gallery (which, since 1979, has become part of the new John Hansard Gallery, a leading contemporary art gallery, funded by the University of Southampton). He subsequently exhibited at Salt House Gallery, St Ives (1988), Rainy Day Gallery, Penzance (1992) and had a solo exhibition at Falmouth Art Gallery in 2001 – where his work can be found in the permanent collection. More details about his exhibitions can be found on the Cornwall Artist Index.

He was elected an Associate of the Newlyn School of Artists in 1987, becoming a full member in 1991. His work evolved into his recognisable style of art, the drawing-paintings where he found his rhythm, and that of the landscape and people around him. The clumsiness that he described in his childhood drawing becoming beautiful as he learnt to work with his own style.