Friday 23 February 2018

William Crozier

Scottish-born artist with an affinity for Ireland, who was famous for his vivid landscapes, writes Bill Kelly of Kelly's Resort Hotel

THE art collection at Kelly's Resort Hotel includes contemporary and international artists, many who have become friends. The hotel enjoys one of the largest collections of William Crozier's art in the country and William, who died last Tuesday, better known as Bill among friends, became a wonderful friend.

Bill always said he had the good fortune of being Scottish-born but of Irish parents. When asked about his origins, he replied without hesitation "Ireland, where my heart is from".

He was born in Glasgow in 1930 and educated at the Glasgow School of Art. After college, he spent time in Paris and Ireland -- apart from his parents' connection with Co Antrim, he stayed in Dublin in 1954 when he worked as a set designer at the Olympia. He was friendly with Irish writers such as Patrick Kavanagh and Anthony Cronin.

He then settled in London, where he quickly gained a reputation as the Fifties' equivalent of a Young British Artist through the early success and notoriety of his exhibitions of assemblages and paintings. Early in his career he developed a highly personalised vision of nature.

From the Eighties, his painting of the landscape blossomed with an extraordinary radiance and confidence. His landscapes and still-lifes use sumptuous colour to engineer emotional intensity.

In 1983, Bill and his second wife, Katharine Crouan, bought a house at Kilcoe, near Skibbereen, Co Cork. From this point Ireland and the Irish landscape became a central feature of his work although he continued to travel widely and to keep a studio in London.

In 1990 and 1991, the largest retrospective exhibition of his work to date was shown at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) Gallery in Dublin and at the Crawford Gallery, Cork. In 1992 Crozier was made an Honorary Member of the RHA.

William Crozier, published in 2007, provides a detailed survey of Crozier's wide-ranging work over the last 50 years, placing it within wider European traditions as well as relating it to developments in Irish, Scottish and English art.

He was represented here by the Taylor Galleries in Dublin and his work features in many important collections.

Bill's visits to Kelly's Hotel led to him undertaking a number of commissions from us, including specially painted covers for various menus and the wine list for Beaches Restaurant. His designs and painting also grace the labels for our house red, white, and rose wines from the Rhone valley. This commission took him to Chateauneuf-du-Pape to investigate the vineyard landscapes. For years after he joked about the difficult task I had given him, tasting all the wines for every bottle that had an interesting label!

On the back of the wine list -- which he painted, -- he writes:

"I like to think that we are all

grand, all handsome or beautiful in

our own way. Fair at being virtuous

and attractive in our failings.

But my fellow artists who

Produce wine and 'the water of life',

I regard as a cut above the rest of us

Bacchus, after all, was a God."

Later Bill's shared passion with myself for French wine brought us on a trip together to Chateauneuf-du-Pape where he was elected into the Eschansonnerie (given the keys) for Chateauneuf-du-Pape, where my brother-in-law produces the award-winning Clos Des Papes wine.

When in 2005 we opened a new bedroom block we named one of the suites, the 'William Crozier Suite'.

That friendship and the sparkle in his eyes will be sadly missed by all the team here at Kelly's, but he will live on in his wonderful art and the hearts of all those who had the good fortune to know him.

Bill Kelly is the owner of Kelly's Resort Hotel, Rosslare, Co Wexford

Sunday Independent

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