British artist wins National Print Award

The artist at work.
The artist at work. / Josele-Lanza / SUR
  • Roderic Stokes, who has been living in Spain for many years, is the 2018 winner of the Pilar Banús Foundation Prize

The National Print Awards ceremony has just taken place at the Marbella Print Museum (MGEC), where the winning works are now on display, and there was especially enthusiastic praise from the judges for British artist Roderic Stokes. His creative genius won him the Pilar Banús Foundation award for his work 'Viendo James Turrell en la tele' (Watching James Turrell on TV).

Roderic impressed the panel with a digital print combined with a relief produced in a manual press. The unusual and colourful image not only won him the 4,000-euro prize, but is also being used as the image for this year's edition of the National Awards.

This is not the first time Roderic Stokes has won one of these awards, but then he can boast a long and successful career, which has taken him from the UK to Germany and, many years ago, brought him to Spain.

He now lives and works in a converted mill house by the Hozgarganta river in Jimena de la Frontera, Cadiz province, which is where I went to visit him. The property is in the Alcornocales Natural Park, a vast area of unspoiled, protected countryside. His light and airy studio has large windows looking out upon leafy trees. It seems an idyllic place to work. Is nature and greenery important to him?

"Nature is very important. I have spent hours and hours at a time in the natural park, drawing, and some of my work is a reflection of what is around me. My transparent works, for example, can be associated with the water in rivers," he says.

The immediate impact of Roderic Stokes' work, though, is its precision. There is nothing slapdash about it. Perhaps this is something inherited or handed down from his father, who owned a small pattern-making company in the Midlands. He had hoped that Roderic would take the company over but instead he left school early, at the age of 15, and went to Coventry College of Art, where he studied Painting and Sculpture.

"We were taught to observe," he says. "Nudes, plants, we were sent out to the market in freezing weather to hone our powers of observation. We had to do 12-hour studies, looking at things with an analytical perspective." That is another factor which could have influenced the precision in his works.

Roderic moved to London when he left art school, and worked in commercial design, theatre costume, book illustration and fairground art, while continuing to experiment with painting and sculpture. In 1969, he co-founded the Electric Colour Company with three fellow artists, Andrew Greaves , Jeffrey Pine and David Smith. The company worked on the border of fine art and contemporary three-dimensional design, and won the Italian Grand Prix for Design in 1971 for work on Piper aircraft customising. In 1974 Roderic began travelling in Spain and Morocco, and eventually settled in Andalucía, where he taught until 1990. He spent most of the next decade working in Cologne, Germany, and in 1994 he was commissioned to create a large-scale architectural illustration for the permanent collection of the Romisch Germanisches Museum.

He still works every day, "a bit less now that I'm older". He focuses on individual projects for a few months at a time: drawing, painting, prints and sculpture.

He says the subjects have to stimulate him, and indeed, the results certainly stimulate all those lucky enough to see them.