John Knapp-Fisher’s painting is recognised around the world, and has become synonymous with the landscape of Pembrokeshire. With a highly distinct style, and an eye for capturing atmosphere, his paintings are mini monuments to a place and time.
John was born in London in 1931 and spent his early years in the countryside of Kent. His father was professor of architecture at the Royal College of Art, and founded the architectural practice of Knapp Fisher, Powell and Russell. His skills as a watercolourist and draughtsmen were imparted to John at an early age, making the imagining and shaping of space a formative part of his childhood.
Following studies in Graphic Design and typography at Maidstone College of Art from 1949, he spent two years working as an exhibition designer in London, and later a set designer for the Theatre Royal in Margate and the Castle Theatre in Farnham.
Around 1958, he began to focus his energies on painting and exhibiting, and when he married fellow artist Sheila Bassett in 1960, they decided to live on a boat, spending five years sailing around south-East England and dedicating his time to painting. Subsequently, the couple followed their friend and pioneer of self-sufficiency, John Seymour, to Pembrokeshire, making a pair of single-storey labourer’s cottages on the road from St. Davids their home. Two of the old cottage rooms became his gallery and his studio was made in the cow-house.
His lifelong love of boats and the sea is reflected in much of his work, and the Pembrokeshire landscape became his chief subject. Although he was vocally not a fan of abstract art, he became interested in the simplification of form, and this was evident in his images of stark-lined cottages, layered headlands and harbour walls. Dark and light became a fascination for him, its juxtaposition informing many of his popular works. In describing the inspiration for the style of these pieces, John said, “I am seeking what I call ‘the edge of colour.’”
His paintings, which were produced in watercolour, oil, ink and mixed media, have been exhibited widely in Britain and abroad, and are represented in both public and private collections. Knapp-fisher has a large and loyal following, recognised as one of Wales’ most popular and respected artists, and at auction his works are in high demand.