top of page
Fireworks & Torches (SOLD)

Fireworks & Torches (SOLD)

By Steven Hubbard


Original artworks

Oil on canvas


Fireworks - £275:

Image size: H: 28 cm x W: 20cm

Framed size: H: 33cm  x W: 24.5cm

Torches - £295 - SOLD:

Image size: H: 21cm x W: 24cm

Framed size:: H: 26cm x W: 29cm


Back in post WWII Britain you could buy your fireworks for pennies from the village shop.


They came wrapped, in modest cardboard tubes with innocent names like Golden Rain, Roman Candle, Catherine Wheels and Jumping Jacks. Then there were Rockets, which simply fizzed up into the air and died quietly in a shower of sparks, penny Bangers and, of course, Sparklers. 


In a studio study, not intended originally for exhibition, Steven has recreated this charming, 1950s nostalgic world of playful pyrotechnics and Standard fireworks. The simple arrangement, in a green and blue muted palette, has his trademark drop shadow which suggests some of the magic of a cold and crisp Bonfire Night celebration.


Ever practical and resourceful, Steven recalls: "Fireworks was created after the print to get more use from the model fireworks I had created from labels printed from the internet to make the print."


From the same era, is this study of old-fashioned battery torches, including a pocket flashlight and a 'big beam' torch - familiar objects from the drawers and garages of our parents and grandparents: "Torches was created as part of a larger piece that originally included marquetry which I exhibited some years back. When it was returned, I kept the painting but reframed it as this smaller work."


    Steven is a highly accomplished and inventive painter, though it is rare to see his paintings exhibited in recent years - and we're privileged to have these small studio pieces on show and sale this year.


    With his typical candour, here's his own account of how the small painted works materialise and why: "The small paintings are done for various reasons: for the pleasure of painting; to keep me occupied when printing editions and waiting for colours to dry; occasionally as a trial for a print I am considering, or as an extra work after I have done the print.


    "Sometimes paintings are merely a challenge or experiment to occupy and stimulate me between prints. I choose objects purely for their visual interest. Some I have had a long while, others I buy specifically for a project.  Most paintings are of things I already have.


    "I cannot understand why some objects feel right for imagery and others do not. I have for some years thought an alarm clock could work as an image but, despite a number of attempts, I have not been able to get the right balance in the trials I have made and the idea is no nearer being used. I have no specific era that I lean towards, nor do I choose objects from any specific time, I just like subjects that feel as though they have had a life. I imagine they must reflect me in some way."


    Widening our perspective, Steven's career has encompassed a variety of disciplines. Initially, he created watercolour still lives, before developing a successful portrait career.


    He was born in London in 1954, growing up in the capital, and has been painting and printing since he was a child, winning a Puffin Club prize for a lino print book cover design. In 1989 he was shortlisted as 'best painter under 35' by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. He studied at Gloucestershire College of Art and Design and has taught Fine Art for over 30 years. 


    After being shortlisted for the National Portrait Gallery BP Award, and gaining an award from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters' annual exhibition, he completed many commissions, including a series of portraits for the eminent writer, NPG trustee and Cambridge don, Sir John Plumb (1911 - 2001). 


    With some of his portraits he began to create tabernacle frames, influenced by his love of 15th and 16th century Italian art, and these craft-based elements soon developed into a more personal and idiosyncratic aspect of his work. These new works - combining painting, carving, gilding and construction - led to Steven becoming a gallery artist at the Francis Kyle Gallery in Mayfair until its closure in 2014, with pieces going into private collections across the UK and Europe. 


    Always fascinated by technique, a long-standing interest in the ubiquitous prints of the Grosvenor School of printmakers, from the London of the 1930s, saw Steven begin to experiment with what has become his main focus of attention - the exciting possibilities of lino printing. Using multiple blocks, thin Japanese papers, extended inks and the flexibility of hand printing, these inventive lino prints use simple means to produce complex and varied surfaces and textures where, within an almost-uniform (or variable) edition, each print has very slight variations and subtleties which makes it unique. 


    His prints have been exhibited by the Royal Academy of Arts, the Society of Wood Engravers and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. His work is often used for illustrations and greetings cards and is held in public and private collections in both Europe and America. Public collections include The Royal Holloway, The National Extension College and The Museum in the Park, Stroud. 

bottom of page