Shaun Byatt is a member of Artwey, a not-for-profit arts community which has been supporting local artists since 2008. He lives in Weymouth.
I studied art at Wolverhampton Art College, and enjoyed my time there. It was a very good college with an excellent Fine Arts department. This was the late ‘60s, but there were no sit-ins during my time at college, most of the student demos were around London as I recall.
My painting style has changed over the years. As I’ve grown older I have concentrated more on colour and atmosphere rather than accurate representation of subjects — I like Gaugin’s quotation, “Don’t copy nature too closely. Art is an abstraction.” I have always been impressed with Gauguin and Van Gogh’s use of colour and latterly, Hockney.
I love Hockney’s choice and use of colour. He did a series of landscapes on his return to his home county of Yorkshire — I like all of them. A contemporary artist who has influenced me is Hashim Akib.
My inspiration comes from my observations of light and colour and it’s often a fleeting moment that captures my imagination. I like to draw outdoors using sketches as references — I use an ink pen for sketching — but most of my work is completed in the studio, where I have a large collection of paint, brushes and canvas. I use the top room in my house as my studio; I used to listen to music as I paint, but these days I become so engrossed in my painting that I don’t really want distractions.
Today there is a very active art scene in Weymouth, and Artwey recently had a very successful exhibition at Bridport Arts Centre, which was praised for the quality of work and the presentation. Many Artwey members live on Portland. In fact, I used to live there myself, in Wakeham. We were drawn to Wakeham because it had the authentic feel about it and property was relative cheap compared to Weymouth, and many of our friends also settled there for that very same reason. I was painting back then but because of work my time was limited.
My surname Byatt is a Portland name: there’s a Byatt gravestone with a carved skull and crossbones in the abandoned St. Andrews Church below the Pennsylvania Castle — but the last time I visited it, it was overgrown. I have many favourite views of Portland to paint, but above all I love views of Chesil Beach and the Bill.