A new walk of life

Abandoning a successful career as a City lawyer for an artist's life, Richard Davidson enjoys painting everyday objects taken out of context. He seeks to convey the life and personality they acquire through their owners, as he explains to ...

Sussex Life

THE transition from commercial lawyer to painter is not the usual route into the profession, but at the age of 48, Richard Davidson left a top City law firm for a foundation art course, where he found himself surrounded by teenagers. This was not a cold leap into the unknown as he had always been attracted to art, though he knew early on he would pursue a legal career. Attending regular painting and sculpture classes after long days in the City proved impossible, however, and he spent years planning the escape. He developed his style while at the Wimbledon School of Art, where despite the emphasis on conceptual work, he wanted above all to learn to paint. Though he moved to Sussex from London six years ago, after 27 years as a commercial lawyer, his old life, or more precisely, its accessories, still provide much of his inspiration. His paintings, unusually, centre primarily on the clothes that formed the uniform of his City life, familiar mundane objects treated in a somewhat nostalgic way. Not that he misses it as such, other than the camaraderie and exchange of ideas. He enjoys "drawing attention to the things we often take for granted", and is intrigued by the way clothing, shoes in particular, take on the personality of their owners. Taking ordinary objects - shoes, suits, shirts - and placing them completely outside of any context, encourages the viewer to see them in a new light. By exposing these objects to a scrutiny they would never normally receive, the viewer can imagine their story. The painting Nine Pairs of City Shoes (pictured) for instance, focuses on the shoes that completed his uniform for many years. The shoes, "a type not often seen these days, have been worn in uniquely," making a kind of personal statement and "hinting at the personality of their wearer". Whether in a shoe, a briefcase or a suit, every scratch and wrinkle contains a potential story. He has even had a commission to paint a briefcase of great sentimental value to its owner, in a portrait-like fashion, invested with life and personality. Such attention lavished on everyday things imbues them with a ghostly life of their own and the Blue Shirt (right) is typical of this treatment and his style. Additionally, it is painted on pin-stripe fabric rather than canvas, integrating the subject with its medium...

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