I first came across John Skinner when reading Emily Ball’s book Drawing and Painting People. From the commonality of their work it was clear that he was her tutor. He runs occasional master classes at Ball’s studio in Partridge Green.
I wanted to know more about the man. From his web site I knew he had worked in Dorset and now lived in France, but the details were factual and I wanted to understand what made him tick, what inspired him.
Switch off the Light and Let Me Try on Your Dress written by Sara Hudson, with illustrations by John, is a slim, limited edition book, published by Agre who specialise in quirky subject matter from the South West of England. The book takes it’s title from the painting on the front cover.
Skinner, who titles his work on completion, ‘to explore the quality of the work.’, believes that his title ‘breaks the ice’ and offers a way in given that ‘paintings convey ideas that cannot be rendered into words.’ 1
Reading about John Skinner reminded me of David Bomberg, a passionate voice, but not quite being heard. ‘The painter strives to communicate physical feelings that embody ideas…. It’s about investigating the nature of things through the process of painting.’ 2
His work is powerful, challenging and evocative. He is tough, passionate (painting daily from Nov to Feb one year in a tent on a Dorset beach) and uncompromising. I also get the impression that he is slightly bewildered that he is not part of the mainstream.
1/2 Hudson Sara, Skinner John (2002), Switch off the Light and Let Me Try on Your Dress. Agre, Dorset