Richard Spare

Richard was born in 1951 in Chelmsford, Essex and studied painting at Maidstone College of Art from 1971 - 1974. He has continued to produce his own work ever since and has become intensely involved in etching and drypoint printmaking.


An experienced printer, Richard has editioned work for contemporary artists such as David Hockney, Jim Dine, Richard Hamilton and Howard Hodgkin as well as working from original plates from masters like Hogarth, Cruikshank and Rowlandson. In 1977 he worked with David Hockney as his assistant, building an etching studio for him in the basement of Hockney’s then home in Powis Terrace, Notting Hill. 


In the early 1980’s, Richard was involved in printing the ‘Banks Florilegium’. The plates for the 743 engravings of plants, from watercolours by Sydney Parkinson created during Cook’s voyage to Australia, were stored in the British Museum for 200 years wrapped in a paper containing acid which was destroying them. Meticulous restoration ended with a plant expert checking them for botanical correctness before they could be published.


In 1988 Richard spent several months in New York working with Jasper Johns, proofing and editioning complex carborundum prints. 1989 saw him working on ‘The Valley’, a collaboration between artist Keith Haring and writer William Burrows, with etched images illustrating an etched, hand-written text. Richard has also printed large projects for Donald Sultan (‘Dominoes’ 1990 and ‘Playing Cards’ 1990/1) and Francesco Clemente (Figures and Salamanders 1992 and the bookplate ‘Dante’s Inferno’ 1993). In 1994 he worked on the ‘Resume Suite’ and the bookplates for Robert Ryman and in 1995 he editioned the ‘Couples Portfolio’ which included work by Mel Bochner and Robert Ryman.


Richard now concentrates solely on his own work, which derives from nature and travel. The garden he has designed at his studio is a rich source of inspiration. Filled with hollyhocks, foxgloves, poppies and wisteria, it is a small haven for wildlife and has been a starting point for many of his prints. Each year he visits Cornwall from where many of his boating images derive. Trips further afield usually involve several visits to gardens and florists where he revels in the unfamiliar flora.


Richard’s studio is homage to the art of printmaking, with its lovingly restored antique etching presses, housed in a converted Victorian coach house. "I enjoy the almost sculptural quality involved in working a plate and particularly like the rich, velvety quality of line produced by drypoint, which, in combination with vibrant colour, I use for my prints." Studio projects also include sculpture in glass, which combine Richard’s images with handcrafted stained glass and hand polished chunky glass alongside hand decorated ceramic works including platters, vases and tiles.


Richard has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad. He is a regular at the Royal Academy Summer Show and has exhibited in Australia, Spain, Canada, Poland and Japan. He has also shown at the Mall Gallery's Discerning Eye exhibition, The Contemporary Print Show at the Barbican, Chelsea Art Fair and The Hunting Art Prize Exhibition. His work has also been included in the Printmakers Council National Print Exhibition, The Bradford Print Biennale, The Royal Society of Painter Etchers exhibition and art fairs in Atlanta, San Francisco and Las Vegas to name but a few.



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