A group of ex-art students of Somerset College of Art in the 1960’s, decided to hold an exhibition of their work and titled it the ‘Then & Now’ at the CICCIC Gallery. Whilst organising the exhibition, the students were told of the untimely death of Geoff Rigden, an abstract artist and a much admired past student from the 60’s who had died in January 2016.
All of those involved decided to celebrate his life in some way as part of the exhibition. Fortunately, one of Geoff’s paintings from his time at Somerset College of Art was donated as a gift to the group and to be auctioned via paper bids posted in a Bid Box at the gallery during the period of the exhibition.
The opening night at CICCIC Memorial Hall, was well attended and along with the excellent exhibition of artists’ work, Geoff’s painting was displayed as part of the exhibition. The Bid Box was opened two weeks after the exhibition and a bid of £800 was made by a local art collector and supporter. This was accepted and Saving Faces was listed by Geoff to benefit from his wonderful collections. The exhibitors and those who visited the exhibition have expressed their support for this donation.
After leaving the Royal College of Art, Geoff lectured at a number of art colleges, particularly Canterbury College of Art. His abstract paintings became popular and he won the prestigious John Moore’s Painting Prize, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, in the late 60’s. Geoff was an amazing talent and all the fellow 60’s students miss him greatly.
The Painting: Antwerp by Geoff Rigden, 1963.
This oil painting on ply-wood was painted by Geoff Rigden during his final academic year at Somerset College of Art in 1962/3. During the year, the college entered him for a place at the Royal College of Art, South Kensington, London and he was accepted. He married his girlfriend, Pam, and they moved to a flat in Earls Court.
During his final year at Taunton, Geoff became infatuated with the work of James Ensor, the Flemish artist. This was probably because his wife, Pam, was part Flemish and bi-lingual. Geoff’s Punch and Judy drawings, from sketches made on the beach at Weston-super-Mare with their mask-like faces are pure James Ensor.
This large urban landscape painting is probably leading to something akin to the James Ensor’s masterpiece ‘Christ’s Entrance into Brussels’. It was made at a time when he was experimenting with both subject matter and style, unlike his Punch and Judy works this one is unpopulated!
Everyone at Saving Faces are very grateful to all the ex-students and those who visited the exhibition, and for this wonderful donation.
Click the images below to view the photos from the event, courtesy of Pete Sellwood, Geoff’s friend and fellow 60s art student.