About the artist

Dorset Magazine Dorset Photographs (c) Hattie Miles
Stephen Bishop is a professional contemporary artist who has been living and painting in Dorset since 1989.  The cliff top, woodland, sand dunes and lakes of the Isle of Purbeck, as well as the remnants of Hardy's Egdon Heath, are his daily muse. Stephen Bishop's work is held in collections worldwide and is attracting the attentions of many art lovers.
Sandbanks Ferry
Studland beach

Stephen is the youngest of four brothers and was always destined to become an artist.  His mother, had the strongest of premonitions that Stephen would be an artist.  She fixed on his name Stephen and it’s spelling with “ph” rather than a “v” as looking more pleasing as an artist’s signature. Following his art college training in Design at the Berksire College of Art & Design,  Stephen took away a love of painting and life drawing. He had a burning desire to live as a fine artist. He lived and worked as an artist in Hackney, Seven Sisters and Muswell Hill in the 1980's.
A spell in Andulucia mountain village 1987 proved to be a turning point for his artistic direction. In 1988 he was inexorably drawn to live in Dorset. His work mixes a poetic painterly representation and an abstract aesthetic together with a profound love for colour.

Lady Digby invited the artist to paint her stunning garden at Minterne in Dorset. The painting "Lady Digby's Garden" was a finalist in the Winsor & Newton Young Artist Award at the Royal Society of Oil Painters Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.

His full scale portrait painting of his grandparents, "Mr & Mrs Roberts" made it through to the finals of the prestigious BP Portrait Award at the NPG in 1994. The work had a favourable review in the Telegraph newspaper. 

Statement by the artist

Whilst staying in an artist’s studio in Andalucia in 1988 I made the life changing decision to live and work in Dorset. Taking my cue from the Impressionists I have sought my inspiration directly from nature. Dorset with its rich coastline, heath and woods has sustained my art since 1989.
In my work I am always searching, yearning even for a connection which I can’t fully grasp. I hope that my paintings are “the song of the hearts desire” to quote from Van Morrison.

My satisfaction in painting comes from many hours of hard work and exploration. Sometimes there are intense intuitive moments that I can only describe as an “otherness”. Music and poetry have strong influence on my work. I am actively involved in Flamenco, dancing with the group Luna Flamenca.

Time, memory and place are central to my paintings. I have been drawn for many years to explore abstract qualities. In some way I feel that I am between two waves, one figurative and the other abstract. The push and pull of these two forces continues. The results can be seen in this exhibition. It may well be that in the future I move further into a new kind of abstraction combining physicality and spirituality. I have always strived to make my paintings strong and to communicate emotions. A loosening of the ties to the figurative motif and transition into deeper abstraction may provide the key to achieving this.

The following lines taken from Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot have particular resonance for me.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.