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Artist Spotlight: Fred Cuming RA


In December 2018, Bridgeman Studio Artist Manager Aretha Campbell met Royal Academician Fred Cuming in his studio. We have shared some of the pictures of the event on this page, as well as a selection of highlights from the artist's oeuvre.

Fred has devoted his life to expressing the fleeting impressions of his surroundings, often painting the South Coast of England around Hastings and Rye where he lives. He also continues to paint regularly in Italy.


Left: A portion of Fred's studio. Right: Fred at work in his studio.


1. What is your earliest memory of an artwork and who was it by?
JMW Turner - 'Fighting Temeraire'.

2. Where did you study?
Sidcup School of Art, Royal College of Art & Abbey Minor to Rome.

Fred Cuming was born in 1930 in London and trained at the Sidcup School of Art between 1945 and 1949. After National Service he studied at the Royal College of Art for four years and was awarded the Abbey Travel Scholarship to visit Rome. In 1969 he was elected an Associate Member of the Royal Academy, becoming a full member in 1974. At that time, he was the youngest member ever elected.


Left: Untitled, Fred Cuming (b.1930) / Private Collection / Courtesy of the late Manya Igel. Right: Pansies (oil on board), Fred Cuming (b.1930) / Private Collection / Courtesy of the late Manya Igel.


3. What is your favourite time of day to be in your studio?
Late Afternoon, early evening.

4. Tell us about your new exhibition, what was the inspiration behind this?
The same themes that have interested me since I was young - clouds, studies of landscape & sea.

In writing about his work, Cuming has said, "I am not interested in pure representation, my work is about responses to the moods and atmospheres generated by landscape, still life or interior. 


Left: Winter Robin (oil on board), Fred Cuming (b.1930) / Private Collection / Courtesy of the late Manya Igel.
Right: Untitled, Fred Cuming (b.1930) / Private Collection / Courtesy of the late Manya Igel


5. You often put hidden symbols such as CND's in your  paintings - when did you start doing this and why?
When I was at the Royal College of Art in the 60's, when we were threatened by atomic war - still a threat.

In 2001 Fred was given the honour of being the 'Featured Artist' in the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition, with an entire gallery of his own. In 2004, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the Arts at the University of Kent in Canterbury.


Left: Self Portrait, 1959 (oil on canvas), Fred Cuming (b.1930) / Private Collection / Photo © Piano Nobile Fine Paintings, London. Right: Umbrella (oil on board), Fred Cuming (b.1930) / Private Collection / Courtesy of the late Manya Igel.


7. If you could pick 5 artists, dead or alive, to have dinner with who would they be and why?
Turner, Constable, Palmer, Pinkam Ryder & De Chirico. It would be interesting to see how they wined & dined, their methods of working, who their influences were, why they decided to become artists, their favourite books, poets, plays, actors, jokes (very important!). As a little extra I would include Hokusai as I love Japanese food!

''I am interested in the developments of 20th Century painting, in abstraction, that has been present in all movements, and in new ideas and art forms. My philosophy is that the more I work the more I discover.''


Left: Fred works surrounded by some of his old pieces. Right: A new piece currently being worked on.


Click here to see all of Fred Cuming RA's work in the archive.

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