Streets anew for artist Pete

Peter Brown, The Circus, Bath early summer morning 2022

Artist ‘Pete the Street’ is back at the Victoria Art Gallery in October with a new show of work featuring over 100 oil paintings.

Peter Brown may be Bath-based – and got his nickname for being a familiar figure setting up his easel on our streets – but he’s been spreading his artistic net to places beyond this city.

He’s widely acclaimed as one of Britain’s best plein air painters and his atmospheric views are captured in all weathers, even during snowstorms when he works outside wearing fingerless mittens. Most of the works in this new exhibition were painted during the Covid-19 pandemic, and visitors will see the impact of restrictions on the places where Brown set up his easel – quiet during the lockdown and then bustling again when restrictions were relaxed.

The exhibition – which opens on October 22nd – will follow the artist’s footsteps through the streets and green spaces of Bath and Bristol, as well as places further afield and domestic scenes from his home. Among the Bath locations featured will be Bath Abbey, The Circus, Pulteney Bridge, Milsom Street, Kingsmead Square, Bear Flat, Chelsea Road and Victoria Park. Lesser-known spots include the multi-storey car park in Avon Street and the Paragon Steps.

Despite being in demand globally, Brown never tires of painting his home city. He came to Bath in 1986 to study and, after continuing his training in Manchester and Greenwich, returned to Bath in 1993 and has lived in the city ever since. He is perfectly suited to recording life in Bath through his artworks – a long tradition that is well represented in the Victoria Art Gallery’s permanent collection, from Turner to Sickert.

Peter Brown said: “It intrigues me how I manage to remain inspired by the city which I have been painting for nearly 30 years now. I remember after lockdown I could not wait to paint people on the grass in front of the Royal Crescent and the city centre again. My efforts to keep it fresh involve a mixture of ignoring the city for long spells, then returning to find new pockets to paint within Bath – Locksbrook Cemetery, Bear Flat or the back of the train station at night.

“I have sporadically popped over the hill to paint the odd view of Bristol but bizarrely never really got hooked until recently. Bristol is a wonderful city. An antidote to Bath, it has huge variety in its culture, landscape and architecture. From the grand terraces of Clifton to the subversive Turbo Island of Stokes Croft, it is full of energy and ever surprising.

“Further afield I always find it a treat to hit the coast. In two or three hours I can be standing barefoot in the sand watching people enjoying the seaside. Seeing people relaxing and happy infects me as I paint. It was one of the first things I did after the first lockdown – and I did it again as all restrictions were being lifted in the summer of 2021 – escape to the sea!”

Kevin Guy, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Peter Brown again, having hosted several popular exhibitions of his work at the Victoria Art Gallery in the past. If you’re a local resident, you can enjoy free admission with a Discovery Card.”

Brown is president of the New English Art Club, a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Pastel Society and Bath Society of Artists, and an honorary member of the Royal Society of British Artists.

A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition, with an illuminating introduction by the artist, together with on-the-spot diary entries providing a fascinating insight into his working processes.

Most works in the exhibition will be for sale, both in the Gallery and online at www.victoriagal.org.uk/peterbrown. As well as oils, a series of limited edition prints will be available.

Artist’s talk by Peter Brown
Saturday 22 October, 11am-12pm
In the exhibition gallery. Free to exhibition ticket holders. Please book in advance to be sure of a place.

Peter Brown: Bath, Bristol and Beyond will run from 22 October 2022 until 15 January 2023.