Gerard Stamp (born 1955) lives and works in Norfolk. He went to school under the shadow of Norwich Cathedral, where he developed a passion for drawing and painting architecture. After Art College Gerard followed a career in London’s Design and Advertising industry before focusing full time on painting in 2002.
Using light, atmosphere and detail Gerard strives to convey the feeling of a place, and what Ruskin called the “golden stain of time”. He has had multiple exhibitions in Norfolk and London including Spirits in Stone (a series of architectural portraits), Twelve Churches (celebrating the Churches Conservation Trust’s 40th anniversary), and Conquest at Norwich Castle (alongside paintings by his artist hero, John Sell Cotman). He has also staged exhibitions in several English Cathedrals including York Minster, Norwich, Exeter, and most recently, Ely. He is represented in public collections at Norwich Castle Art Gallery and East Contemporary Art (UCS). His work is in private collections around the World include those of Dame Judi Dench, the Duke of Bedford, HRH The Prince of Wales and HM The Queen.
"I am often asked why I paint churches, and I have never found it an easy question to answer. I have certainly been fascinated by architecture - particularly medieval architecture – for as long as I remember. It started in my schooldays where a talent for drawing was nurtured and developed by an inspirational art master in a classroom overlooking one of Europe’s greatest Norman cathedrals, Norwich. I was surrounded by magnificent medieval architecture, and was also increasingly obsessed by one of our finest architectural draughtsmen, the Norwich artist John Sell Cotman.
What I try to paint is the atmosphere, the feeling of a place. Above all, it is light which fascinates me, and how light can affect mood and can lead the eye around a painting. I am also attracted by the melancholy, the timelessness, the tranquillity of a simple country church, or the solemn ruins of a once great abbey. These are hardly new or ‘original’ subjects for an artist’s attention but that is no reason not to interpret them anew, with fresh eyes.
But there is something else. John Ruskin wrote: The greatest glory of a building is not in its stones, nor in its gold. Its glory is in its Age, and in that deep sense of voicefulness, of stern watching, of mysterious sympathy… even of approval or condemnation, which
we feel in walls that have long been washed by the passing waves of humanity... it is in that golden stain of time, that we are to look for the real light, and colour, and preciousness of architecture.
The idea that a structure made out of brick and stone can somehow impart ‘approval’ or ‘condemnation’ may be to the modern cynic at best unduly romantic and at worst utterly ridiculous. But it is this anthropomorphism, and the feeling of being able to touch the “passing waves of humanity”, which give spirit to these places and draws me to them.
One art collector, quoting T.S Eliot, described my work as being ‘at the still point of the turning world’. I like that. We are living in an angry and uncertain world, and often a very frightening one. It is also a crowded world where, though there are wonderful exceptions, we endure much ugliness in art, in architecture, in urban planning, and in the relentless industrialisation of our rural landscape and seascape. Beauty is well overdue a revival.
In a time of great change these buildings provide constancy for the soul and sanctuaries for the eyes: I paint them because they are beautiful."
Ethelbert Gateway, Norwich, etched by John Sell Cotman in 1817. Gerard's school art room was above the arch