Francis Plummer – Garden Valley
Francis Plummer worked in an unusual way for an artist of the post war period. Instead of embracing new affordable materials enabling him to produce relatively inexpensive work, the still young artist opted for a method steeped in history; Egg Tempera. Interestingly this renaissance preference was mainly reserved for the artists distinct figure paintings, which noticeably retain the aesthetic of that time as well as expressing the artists experience as a medical illustrator. However his landscapes were predominately carried out in watercolour revealing compositions of juxtaposed patches of greenery and ambiguous specimens of horticulture creating timeless vistas of the countryside. Yet the flatness of these stylized designs do not find their heritage in the rolling Tuscan hills but can be assimilated with the two dimensional qualities of oriental and more specifically Japanese landscapes. In the Garden Valley it is not only the composition of these patches of grassland and foliage but the colours of the entire painting that evoke the mysterious world of the orient. In particular the haziness and split tonality of the sky is not only an effective backdrop but is extremely reminiscent of the paintings by Ando Hiroshige who so inspired Van Gogh a hundred years earlier.
Francis Plummer was born on the 27th of March 1930 in London. He went on to study art and design at the Woolwich Polytechnic School of Art where he graduated with the National Diploma in Design and Art. With an obvious flare for the creative Plummer was then enrolled at The Royal Academy Schools between 1949-1954. His success there not only earned him a RA Diploma but also the coveted Leverhulme scholarship for £100. He began work as a medical illustrator for Guys Hospital designing graphics, which is something he continued to do at Bowater Design and Impala Marine Design as an illustrator. Plummer continued to be a jobbing artist and began to teach for the National Trust Teaching Practice following onto the Working Men’s College, the South Thames College of Technology, the London Adult Community College and then for the Colchester Painting Practice. However throughout this period of design and teaching work the artist was establishing himself for his artwork alone and was commissioned by the National Trust as well as appearing in collaborative exhibitions at the Grafton Engineering Private exhibitions, Leighton House Galleries, London Royal Academy Diploma Galleries and the London Leicester Galleries. In 1975 a one man show of his landscape and figure paintings entitled To be Born Again was moved from a gallery in Middlesbrough to the Alywn Gallery in Mayfair and was followed some years later by an exhibition at The Minories in Colchester.
Robert Weale, ‘To be born again: Francis Plummer’, in the New Scientist, Vol. 65, No. 933 (Jan, 1975), pg. 228.