Patrick Heron

22 July: 1995: 1

Gouache: 12.2(h) x 15.9(w) in /

31.1(h) x 40.3(w) cm

Signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse: Patrick Heron / 22 JULY : 1995 : I

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SP 3692



Headingly 1920 – 1999 Zennor


22 July : 1995 : I


Signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse: Patrick Heron / 22 JULY : 1995 : I

Gouache: 12 ¼ x 15 7/8 in / 31.1 x 40.3 cm

Frame size: 18 ¾ x 22 5/8 in / 47.6 x 57.5 cm



Waddington Galleries, London

Private collection, UK



London, Richard Green, Heron: The Shape of Colour, May 2006, no.29, pp.84-85



In his late work of the 1980s and 90s, Heron embraced a ‘freer, increasingly open and intuitive approach’[1] to painting, distinguished by the return of visible drawing and flashes of unpainted white ground. This new phase occurred in part as a result of the death of the artist’s wife Delia in 1979, immediately after which he barely painted. Heron’s third visit to Australia in 1989-90, as Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, also had a dramatic impact, resulting in a fertile sequence of Sydney Garden Paintings. Characterised by a greater sense of openness as a result of increased areas of white and an emphasis on line, the series captures the sensations of light, colour and rhythm Heron found walking to his studio through the Botanic Gardens in Sydney every morning, as well as ‘frequent visits to the Bush at West Head.’[2] Heron later revealed his passion for the flora of Australia predated this visit, through his own garden at Eagle’s Nest, with its Australian and New Zealand shrubs.[3] In conversation with the artist on the occasion of his Tate retrospective in 1998, Martin Gayford noted that the late paintings ‘are often permeated with a sense of the garden – an outdoor feel.’ Heron confirmed ‘You’re taking the elements with which you are building, to some extent, from a direct visual experience of rocks and trees. And not only visual. I mean, the rhythmic realities of a landscape where you live permeate your awareness and your mind, and your consciousness through the soles of your feet, upwards. The garden dictates the rhythmic outlines which one deploys; but the way one deploys them springs from the paintings one has done in the past. Without representing given rocks or given trees, you have invented a vocabulary out of the rhythms of these outlines.’[4]


Recalling the calligraphic complexity of his figurative paintings of the 1950s, 22 July : 1995 : I[5] demonstrates the reinvigoration of Heron’s visual language, composed almost entirely of loose, brilliantly coloured lines scribbled in loops, swirls and areas of hatching, punctuated by impasted dots across the luminous white ground. Plant forms and patterns of foliage and flower emerge, the formal equivalence of his beloved garden, their vibrating colour-forms expressing the joyful sensation of flowering shrubs bursting forth in summer.




Headingly 1920 – 1999 Zennor


Although Heron was born at Headingly, Leeds, much of his childhood was spent in West Cornwall. His father was a blouse manufacturer and founder of Cresta Silks, commissioning artists including Paul Nash and Cedric Morris. Heron studied part-time at the Slade School of Art between 1937-39. During the Second World War, he registered as a conscientious objector, working as an agricultural labourer and later as an assistant at the Bernard Leach Pottery, St Ives from 1944-45, during which time he met Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. In 1945, Heron married Delia Reiss and moved to London, making annual summer trips to Cornwall. He held his first solo exhibition at the Redfern Gallery in 1947 (and continued to exhibit with the gallery until 1958), visiting Paris for the first time the same year. During this period Heron was also an influential art critic, writing for the New English Weekly from 1945-47, New Statesman and Nation from 1947-50, the London correspondent for Arts, New York, from 1955-58, and published an anthology of his critical writing, Changing Forms of Art in 1955.


Heron painted his first purely abstract paintings in 1952 and after a brief return to figuration, executed works in a tachiste style from 1955, prior to the exhibition Modern Art in the United States at the Tate Gallery in 1956. This change to abstraction coincided with his move to Eagles Nest, Zennor, and the following year he exhibited his first stripe paintings in a group exhibition entitled Metavisual, Tachiste, Abstract. In 1958, he moved to Ben Nicholson’s former studio at Porthmeor and began to introduce the shapes that were to characterise his paintings of the 1960s and 1970s. He also joined Waddington Galleries, where he would exhibit for the rest of his career. Heron visited Australia in 1967, 1973 and in 1989-90, as Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.



Heron won the Grand Prize at the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition in 1959 and a silver medal at the São Paolo Bienal in 1965. He had several retrospective exhibitions throughout his career including at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1972, at the Barbican Art Gallery in 1985 and at the Tate Gallery in 1998. He was created CBE in 1977 and became a Trustee of the Tate Gallery in 1980 until 1987. He died peacefully at his home in Zennor, Cornwall, in March 1999 at the age of 79.






[1] Sarah Martin, ‘Heron’s Paintings of the 1980s and 1990s’, Patrick Heron, exh. cat., Tate Publishing, 2018, p.123.

[2] Heron wrote in 1991,‘I like to think that these Sydney paintings and gouaches have new spatial configurations, new images and constructions, and new colours (paler? sharper?), which owe their origin to my daily walks through Sydney’s great Botanic Gardens – but also to my frequent visits to the Bush at West Head.’ Patrick Heron, ‘A Note on the Sydney Paintings’, in Patrick Heron Sydney Paintings and Gouaches 1989–1990, exhibition guide, Waddington Galleries, London, April 1991.

[3] ‘An Interview with Patrick Heron by Martin Gayford’, Patrick Heron, exh. cat., Tate Publishing, 1998, pp.44-45.

[4] Ibid., pp.44-45.

[5] By early 1992, Heron had ‘stripped his titles of any allusion, limiting them to the date of production’ Sarah Martin, op.cit., p.126.

Post War BritishPatrick Heron