John Ridgewell’s painting style changes significantly over his career and it is convenient to break this up into three main strands. The shifts in style were fluid and inconsistent, but as a framework to view his work it may help the newcomer to his art.
Student work aside, John Ridgewell’s early work is experimental in nature, using heavy colours and strong blocks of image. Much of this is inspired by his proximity to the dark mud cliffs of the Yorkshire coast, and the layering of houses as they tumble down ravines such as Robin Hood’s bay, Whitby or Staithes. The crowded buildings of industrial Yorkshire feature in many paintings from this period. A different often heavily surrealist strand was begun at this time with the red farmhouse pictures, based on a farmhouse on the Yorkshire Wolds.
1970’s and 1980’s
The rich green landscapes of Suffolk and Yorkshire feature in pictures from the 1970’s, his series of paintings featuring gates, doors and stairways in landscape being amongst his most remarkable paintings from the period. This was commercially amongst his most successful period, with multiple exhibitions and a growing audience of loyal patrons who would buy work directly from John’s
John Ridgewell’s style starts to shift again into a fine, delicate style, often using tones of blue on white to extraordinary effect. Attention to detail, something John always said he learnt at Colchester, is a constant in his paintings, each blade of grass carefully placed and executed. His paintings reward repeated viewing.
Images are also available on the government art website, https://artcollection.culture.gov.uk/person/ridgewell-john/
The images held here were bought from an exhibition in 1961 held to mark John’s graduation from Art College. Other organisations that have purchased his art include Rowntree Confectionery, now Nestle, for the offices in York, amongst others.