My Life in Three Artworks: Humphrey Ocean

This month we talk to contemporary British painter and long-standing Hurtwood friend, Humphrey Ocean RA. For over fifty years Humphrey Ocean has continued to delight and surprise the art world with his paintings, prints and sculptures that depict the simplicity of life with British charm. Working closely with Humphrey, we were proud to produce his first artist’s monograph.

Humphrey Ocean in his studio (left) with Hurtwood MD Francis Atterbury

Who was the very first artist that ignited your passion for art – whose work took your breath away and left the greatest impression?

The discovery of Edward Hopper, who I thought might be a teenage fling, but he gets better and better.

Edward Hopper Manhatten Bridge Loop Artepics / Alamy Stock Photo

Can you remember the very first artwork that made you consider a career in the art world?

By the way, this is not a career. I can’t do anything else, I’m pathologically unemployable, art is all I can do so there was no choice in the matter. But the very first artwork I can remember is the Van Gogh self-portrait in the John Hay Whitney Collection exhibition 1960-1 at the Tate Gallery. The face surrounded by a radiating lapis blue said “Come on in the water’s fine” to this nine-year-old.

Van Gogh - Self Portrait / Alamy Stock Photo

If you were gifted any piece of artwork in the world to keep and put in your home, what would you pick and why?

‘Camille Pissarro: Lordship Lane Station’, 1871 (in the Courtauld Gallery). I have not chosen it because my house is behind the chimneys on the left of the railway line, which it is. I love that a whole quarter of the painting in the bottom right-hand corner is a newly created fenced-in piece of non-territory, a railway embankment, and is pure JG Ballard. Pissarro in his deadpan way is recording the modern world and its future. This is the painting that invented suburbia.

Camille Pissarro - Lordship Lane Station Dulwich 1871 Artefact / Alamy Stock Photo

Words: Humphrey Ocean RA

View Humphrey Ocean, the artist’s first monograph