At the beginning of each month we post articles profiling great artists. This month’s choice ties in with the upcoming COS 2013 in June…
Cheltenham has a rich seam of artists who have made their mark on the world art stage, none more so than the painter and sculptor PJ Crook. Pamela June Crook was born in Cheltenham in 1945 and remains a resident to this day. P J is represented by Alpha Gallery London and Galerie Alain Blondel Paris. She is patron of the Cheltenham Open Studios and with the COS13 Visual Arts Festival starting on 8th June and running until 16th June, we felt sure art lovers of all types would welcome a chance to learn more about this fascinating local artist of worldwide renown.
PJ Crook lives with her partner, artist Richard Parker and a good deal of her childhood was spent nearby her present home. Community is important to her and she supports a number of local causes. Her local church St Michael and All Angels at Bishops Cleeve was the recipient of a moving depiction of the crucifixion of Christ.
PJ works from a studio opposite her home where she creates and manages monumental paintings, which often measure 2m x 4.5m. At the other end of the spectrum, her paintings can be tiny some only 10cm square. Her media include acrylic, tinted gesso, and oil on canvas.
She is known for her crowd scenes, which draw you in, inviting you to become part of the scene. Subject matter includes traditionally male domains such as racetracks, casinos, snooker halls, and card games.
Her work is in considerable demand from global art collectors. Her paintings mix distinctive style with superb technical skill. She is gifted in depicting depth of field and perspective whether showing a crowd at the races, a busy street, or swimming pool.
PJ Crook has used her work to respond to diverse current events from the devastating Asian tsunami to the first Gulf War. The works offer a menacing distortion on the seemingly calm surfaces of the pictures. PJ is fascinated by groups of people and uses her observations from crowded railway carriages, the circus, pavements, bars, and stations to inspire her art.
From time to time, the pictures take a more intimate nature offering a more private and protected view such as children playing in a room or a glimpse of figures down a dimly lit passageway. An intuitive painter, Crook does not use drawings or photographs rather to painting directly, from imagination and remembered observations.
At deepspacegallery, we are proud to have been associated with the artist in conjunction with Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum during the Centenary of the Gold Cup Racing Festival in which we faithfully recreated artwork from 100 primary school children and students of deepspaceclasses. Our sculpture, one of ten 7-foot high fibreglass horses designed by PJ, was entitled “100” and took pride of place in Pittville Park during the centenary celebrations. The horse featured here in our article is one of the three painted by PJ for the celebrations.
PJ sees no conflict between family and artistic expression and her children have been a great inspiration to her. Inviting the imagination to flow and discover the mystery at the heart of each painting, each picture is a voyage of discovery for the viewers who can lose themselves in the essence and ponder what the anticipated event is or if it has already happened! The colour and detail is a joy to look at with the different expressions of the artist’s subjects steeped in reality and authenticity.
Art galleries and private collections worldwide exhibit the paintings of PJ Crook and some of the world’s most prestigious collectors and galleries are proud to hang her work. There is a series of work that has been used for the album covers for the band King Crimson and many from the music world namely Robert Fripp, Toyah Wilcox, Peter Gabriel, Billy Joel, and Holly Johnson collect her work. Institutional collectors include King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum (3), Cheltenham Racecourse (2), City Museum and Art Gallery, Gloucester, El Mundo, Madrid, Imperial War Museum, London (2), Morohashi Museum of Modern Art, Japan (26), Ville de Paris, Direction de l’Amengement Urbain, Presidential Palace, Tallinn, Estonia to name but a few.
During the exhibition, why not get to know your local artist. We can advise you where to view examples of her work locally and stock plenty of art books and prints in the gallery if you wish to find out further information. There is no doubt that PJ Crook is a contemporary artist who is well deserving of her honour of an MBE for services to Art. We look forward to welcoming you to Cheltenham and deepspaceworks.