England’s artists are renowned for their unique interpretations of the fabulous and the absurd. Deep rooted in a love of both the wilderness and our ancient man-made landscape this particular brand of ‘Englishness’ surfaces in the buffooneries of mediaeval book illustration, in the hallucinatory outpourings of Richard Dadd, right through to the 20th century in the eccentric religiosity of Stanley Spencer.
Sean Jefferson’s work continues in this singularly British pastoral visionary tradition. His creations are portals into different worlds, unencumbered by pre-occupation with paint surface or ‘the process’. The work on display draws on magic, mysticism and English literature, with atmospheric landscape and fairy paintings derived from imagined drawings and memories. Perhaps one of the purest manifestations of this Anglo-Celtic surrealism is Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and this has been a constant inspiration to Jefferson since his earliest exposure at the Portal Gallery in the 1980s.
After moving to Cornwall in 2001, Jefferson befriended his mentor and guide Graham Ovenden, an artist now widely considered Britain’s greatest living pastoralist painter. A founding member of the Brotherhood of Ruralists, a group of seven artists including Peter Blake who, in the footsteps of the Pre-Raphaelites, moved from the city to the countryside a reaction against the sub-urban mindset. Ovenden and his brothers encouraged a close re-examination of Victorian art and photography, particularly Julia Margaret Cameron, the Pre-Raphaelites and fairy painters. They also brought the profound spirituality of William Blake, Samuel Palmer and the Ancients into sharp focus. Jefferson has become increasingly influenced by these principles and his vision is at one with Ruralism. A recent move for Jefferson from the country back to the city has brought a sharper focus to his appreciation of the pastoral.
Jefferson has had solo exhibitions at the renowned A3 Gallery in Moscow, the Jester Gallery Amsterdam, in London with Talisman Fine Art and in mixed exhibitions at the Portal Gallery & Piccadilly Gallery London, and at the Cyril Gerber/Compass Gallery Glasgow. His fantastical murals can also be enjoyed at the Hotel Filosoof in Amsterdam.
Dimbola Lodge was the Isle of Wight home of the pioneer photographer Julia Margaret Cameron where she entertained an artistic circle including Watts, Millais, Lewis Carroll and near neighbour Tennyson.