Simon Pierse

S i m o n   P i e r s e

Honorary Member (Wales)

Passing Night, Aberystwyth

My painting practice is mainly focussed towards landscape, although my actual subject is really light — the way that mutable effects of light and shadow transform our world. I’m also interested in memory, in distilling the essence of something remembered into a significant image. I trained as an oil painter and I still do work in oils – especially outside – although watercolour is my main medium these days. It was once suggested to me (not entirely as a compliment, I think) that the pigments I use in watercolour are all the opaque ones – the ones that oil painters use. Actually, I think the watercolour process informs my oil painting and vice versa. It’s all about colour and tonal values really.

Simon Pierse was born in London in 1956. His interest in art began early, when he attended Saturday classes at Camberwell School of Art and evening life-drawing classes at Goldsmiths College of Art while still at secondary school. Leaving school in 1975, he studied painting at the Slade School of Art for four years when he was taught by Jeffery Camp, Patrick George and Euan Uglow and came into contact with Lucian Freud and Leon Kossoff. Upon graduation from the Slade, he won the Melville Nettleship Prize and a Boise Travelling Scholarship to Italy. The following year, he was awarded an Italian Government Scholarship to live and work in Tuscany for a year.

He holds a B.A. (hons) Fine Art, Slade School of Art, University College, London, a Master of Arts in Renaissance Art History and Theory, University of Essex, and a PhD in Art History, Aberstwyth University, Wales.

An artist, teacher and academic, Pierse taught at Aberystwyth University’s School of Art for 24 years before retiring in 2016 to paint and write full time.

Pierse has had a long association with Australia, visiting regularly since 1992-93 when he was artist-in-residence at Melbourne Grammar School. He had two further artist residencies at Dunmoochin (former home of Clifton Pugh) and was an Artist Fellow at La Trobe University in 2006. He is the author of Australian Art and Artists in London: An Antipodean Summer, a book about Australian expatriate artists in London during the period 1950-1965, which was published by Ashgate in 2012.   

He has had numerous solo exhibitions in the UK, Australia and United States. Among his awards are an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant (2007), and a Terra Incognita exhibition touring grant, Arts Council of Wales (2000).

His work is represented in public, corporate and private collections internationally, including the Alpine Club, London; Dunmoochin Foundation, Victoria, Australia; Heritage Malta; La Trobe University, Melbourne; MOMA Wales; Museo della Carta e della Filigrano, Fabriano, Italy; National Library of Wales; Qingdao Art Museum, China; Royal Collection, UK; RWS Diploma Collection, London; School of Art Collection, Aberystwyth, Wales, and University College, London.

Elected an Honorary Member of the Australian Watercolour Institute in 2018, Simon Pierse is a member and former Vice President of the Royal Watercolour Society, London, and an Artist Associate Member of the Alpine Club, London.

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