by Stanley Rose
Born in the rural SW of the UK, I was raised loving sport, all sport, football, cricket, athletics, motor racing and speedway. I also discovered I had a talent for drawing so one passion became the subject matter of the other. I spent hours as a child drawing Vanwalls driven by Stirling Moss, Nortons ridden by Geoff Duke, speedway bikes ridden by Barry Briggs of the Poole Pirates and sporting figures playing soccer and cricket.
The two passions ran parallel through my early childhood into my teens. Early on I had a pact with my dad that, at the age of ten or eleven, I would help him with winter maintenance at the cricket club if he would teach me to drive. So I learnt to drive a range of company vehicles all with non-synchromesh gear boxes…I was in heaven. At the same time it became clear that I was not going to be able to make a career from any of these sports so I set my sights on becoming an ‘Artist’, whatever that meant.
I won a place at Art School on a Foundation Course where I discovered a whole new world of different disciplines and ways of thinking about ‘art’. Above all I learnt that I was only on the first rung of the ladder in terms of becoming an artist. I graduated to a Degree Course in Fine Art and spent three years trying to work out what it was I wanted to paint, followed by a postgraduate course in Art Education which gave me a teaching qualification.
I spent a number of years dabbling at painting whilst teaching Art and Design to 17 and 18 year olds. It was very frustrating because I knew that unless I broke the dependence of a regular salary, I would never achieve that which I’d dreamt of becoming all those years ago. Cutting a long story short, I handed in my notice and Avril and I moved to France to a new life and launch my career as a full time artist. We bought a 1957 Renault Juva Quatre as our daily run-around and it became my inspiration for my first paintings. It led to the discovery of Retromobile, the prestigious classic car show in Paris, where I took a stand and sold my first collection of paintings, motivated by my Juva Quatre and various other French popular cars of the fifties.
But, as is always the way, when you think that you have ‘arrived’, other obstacles appear. In my case it was the dissatisfaction of painting “pictures of automobiles”. It was not what I’d given up my life in the U.K. for. I decided to liberate myself from this constraint and concentrate on paintings that reflected my interests more generally, albeit very closely connected to the automobile. And so I made my first paintings of individual figures in period dress associating them with cars, motorbikes and trucks. The figures were headless because I wanted them to be anonymous except where a known personality such as a racing driver or musician was involved. This departure allowed me to introduce all sorts of imagery that otherwise would not have been possible. I included racehorses, greyhounds, blues legends and so on, into my paintings and this has given me the scope to express myself to the maximum.
I spend every day in my studio in rural France and count myself lucky to have been able to make a career from something that I’d always had a passion for. I’ve traveled the world exhibiting my work and meeting wonderful people, some of whom have been gracious enough to support me during this 35 year period, without them I would not be writing this abbreviated version of my life….thank you all.