Latest Exhibition from Mountain Artist John Colton Set to Open at the Alpine Club
For our first exhibition of 2023, John Colton brings a collection of alpine memories to Charlotte Road. In this new show, playfully titled ‘Over the Hill,’ he shares a series of scenes captured during his most active years in the Alps and revisited during 2022.
'Aiguilles' - John Colton
Working from his old A5 sketchbooks, filled with scenes of mountain days from the latter half of the 20th Century, John takes us back to the moments when alpine landscapes filled his vision, immersing us in the adventures of his youth.
Each of the chosen sketches has been lovingly recreated and is accompanied by a written piece that situates the work in John’s own remarkable life. Many of the scenes show the view of or from classic alpine routes, with John’s words helping to convey the history and mythos of these climbs.
“Drawing the hills has added another dimension to my mountaineering life, enriching it considerably by extending dialogue, contact and friendship with a diverse collection of people.” – John Colton
For this exhibition, John has worked in watercolour on grey paper, using white gouache rather than the paper itself to evoke the play of alpine light. Now, many years removed from the original sketches, he takes the opportunity for artistic license, focussing on the elements of greatest import in his renewed compositions.
'From the Walker Spur' - John Colton
With an exhibition that reproduces earlier works, there is a clear sense of an artist looking back on their career. But there is more than simple nostalgia at play here. As a mountain artist who is keenly aware of the history of the form, John is also reappraising, renewing and looking at his own place in the mountain art firmament with fresh eyes.
When discussing his early artistic life, John gives the impression of a beatnik-adjacent milieu, his art adorning the walls of restaurant gardens and temporary street stalls in the French Alps that lasted as long as the gendarmerie allowed. Through the friends he made in this time, not least the Simonds of “The Nash”, his works found their way into the hands of Desmaisons and Herzogs. But when he showed his paintings to the proprietors of the upscale art galleries of Old Geneva they turned him down, reassuring him that he would be famous when he died. His reply? “I can’t wait.”