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Kitchen Art: could this be the best we have ever seen? Our art specialist Matthew talks to the creator, Giles Ward

Bright, bold and contemporary. These are just a few of the sought after qualities of kitchen art designed to lift the cook’s abode from a place born out of necessity to a hub of excitement, experience and celebration. Kitchen art is increasing in popularity with the rise of combined kitchen dining rooms and with it, shifts in how we use the space to socialise.

In this post we look at the work of Giles Ward and ask the artist about his take on kitchen art and how he came to paint his appropriately foodie subjects.

Kitchen Art: Seafood’s ‘Plaice’ on the Canvas

Choosing a subject matter to paint doesn’t always come naturally to artists, and anyone who has sought a painting for their wall at home will testify it is not always as simple as it might seem to choose one either. In interview with artist Giles Ward we find out what attracts him to marine life and why he loves to paint it.

What is it that draws you to marine life?

I find marine life, and the natural world in general, a great source of inspiration. I am drawn to looking at nature in minute detail – the complexity of pattern, colour and shape. I think it may be a childhood thing; peering very closely at tiny crabs at the bottom of a rock-pool! There are big worlds in small things.

Do you have a favourite seafood to paint…and to eat?

I love eating seafood – but that is not necessarily the inspiration. It is all about the look. Some of the tastiest fish might not be the best to illustrate. Having said that, anything with pincers, claws and legs are a constant source of wonder both to paint and to eat.

crab sketch by artist giles ward
From market to canvas: Giles Ward paints one of his favourite subjects, the Spider Crab, before enjoying its delicate flavour in the kitchen

Building Collaborations Through Kitchen Art

Giles does a fantastic job building collaborations with his artwork. Working with the NHS as well as the Fisherman’s Mission to help raise funds, he is also currently involved with a chef, consolidating the relationship between his artistic expressions and the kitchen:

I am working with one of the country’s foremost seafood chefs at the moment and it’s been wonderful having conversations about how we bring what he is preparing on the plate and what I am doing on canvas together.

Are you the cook in the house?

No! But my wife is a fantastic cook, so I’m very spoilt. Although I don’t mind dressing crab or lobster – part of the fun of eating shellfish.

Giles Ward in the Creative Setting

Artists treasure their studios as a place of expression, though the inspiration for their work often comes from outside the studio. Giles sources his subject fresh from the market to ensure they are as near to life as possible for study and representation.

Giles sources his marine subjects fresh from Brixham Fish Market so he can be sure the fish will be at their most vibrant and lifelike.

Do you feel the need to observe your subjects in their natural habitat?

Not necessarily, but I do like to work with them from life where I can. Some fish, and marine life are less easy to source, but any that I can I will buy and photograph myself. That helps me really explore and ‘look’ at the colours and shapes. And then eat afterwards!

three fish used as a still life painting by giles ward
The inspiration and compositional layout (left) for Giles Ward’s painting titled, ‘Mackerel Scad’ (right). Giles is able to arrange the composition as desired with his fresh subjects and study all their wonderful details. By setting the mackerel on a slate sheet the colours of the mackerel are enhanced whilst providing a natural material and neutral background from which to observe the fish on.

Displaying Kitchen Art

Art is rarely imagined in a finished setting as it is being curated. Rather it is the product of a creative process born by the artist and represents a personal expression. Having said this, there are elements of an artistic piece that can influence where it may hang within the home setting. The inherently edible subject matter of Giles’ paintings, in addition to the glorious detail of colour and form, mean the artworks lend themselves to the kitchen setting.

Where do clients tend to hang your paintings?

I’m delighted if they hang them anywhere! Certainly, kitchens seem to be a popular space for my pictures, but then a lot of homes are now about open kitchen, dining, entertainment space and that seems to work well. Studies and home offices are popular too. Maybe my subjects help bring a little bit of nature into the home and remind people of the sea and childhood. Back to the simple things.

How is your work received in restaurants?

My subjects seem to naturally lend themselves to a restaurant environment. I hope they also bring colour to the walls, and maybe even a little humour.

kitchen art painting
One of Gile’s large original paintings hanging proudly in a client’s kitchen

It is easy to see how Giles has fallen in love with painting his fishy friends with all the variation of colour and texture they offer as a still life subject. The inherent association of the artist’s work with food render the paintings ideal as kitchen art, and clients and customers alike are boldly seeking out the vibrant lifelike seafood to adorn their walls.

To find out more about Giles Ward visit his page by clicking below.


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