Art | Richard Platt’s Ordinary Extraordinary Prints

Washing Fish

Richard Platt
Works on Paper Fair
Royal Geographical Society
London | UK
1 > 4 February 2018

The Octopus


Richard Platt would be pleased. The forthcoming selling exhibition of his lithographs will help further his dream of helping raise Falmouth School of Art, where he taught from the early 1960s, to national status. Having lain undisturbed at his Cornish home for many decades, these extraordinary prints were produced in the mid-1950s when a furious battle between realism and abstraction in British art was raging and barriers separating high and low culture were being torn apart.

In the early 1920s his father, J G Platt – from Lancashire – had attended the Royal College of Art, studying alongside Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Evidently better off than his fellow RCA students, when Richard was also accepted at the College in the early 50s, he bought works from his peers, including Peter Blake, Joe Tilson, and John Bratby – who was best man at his first wedding. According to his second wife, the artist Diane Ibbotson, in one timely transaction, when Platt was keen to acquire a colourful picture from Peter Blake that, at £15, he couldn’t afford, he settled for the monochrome Three Young Bathers – which Blake was about to discard – for £5.

Boiling Crabs

Pearly King
and Queen for
the Coronation


George & Vulture
Chop House


Meanwhile, Platt used his own adept pen and ink drawing skills to create compositions based on commonplace situations involving ordinary people at work or leisure that he transposed into strikingly original colour lithographs and paintings. When he left college he was commissioned to paint a mural of a livestock market on the canteen wall of the Working Men’s College, Camden. From 1949 to 58, he exhibited at the Royal Academy, and between 1950 and 1959 at the New English Art Club. His work was shown with The London Group and at The Wilton Gallery. He also had a one-man show at The Leicester Galleries in 1956. Throughout this period, Platt lived in north London (Highgate, then Hampstead) and often found his subjects in the city or on England’s east coast.

Richard Platt (1928 > 2013), became an etcher, woodcutter and engraver and was the principal of Hornsey School of Art before leaving London for Cornwall in 1965. From the late 40s through to the early 60s his approach developed from social realism in the direction of abstraction. His work is held in important public collections, including the Government Art Collection, The British Council, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Bradford Museums & Galleries.

Richard Platt’s lithographs will be shown by Emma Mason Prints at next month’s Works on Paper Fair at The Royal Geographical Society.

All prints by Richard Platt (1928 – 2013), courtesy Works on Paper Fair, to be exhibited by Emma Mason Prints

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