John Emanuel English, b. 1930


Although John Emanuel has received no formal art training, his background as a decorator has served as an excellent foundation. His natural creativity inspired by a love of his subject – the figure and the figure embraced by the landscape, has developed into a consistent style.

His drawings exhibit a clear, classical form and a simplicity of line which strengthens the relationship between the contours of the figure and the contours of the land. He loves the singular beauty of the Cornish coastline and the extraordinary light. The notion of forms sleeping beneath the earth are a recurring theme.

John works in a variety of media: charcoal, gouache, oils and, more recently mixed media and lino-types, a method he learned from John Wells. His preferred medium is oil paint using hand and mould made papers laid down on archive quality board.


John Emanuel was born in Bury, Lancashire in 1930. With the advent of World War 2 his parents decided to move back to Barrow in Furness where both sets of his grandparents lived. He was immediately evacuated to a farm on Shap Fell. After leaving school he served an apprenticeship in painting and decorating.

His introduction to art, in particular painting, was gained through a series of talks given by a lecturer from the Extra Mural Department of Manchester University and Harry Thrubron, Leeds University.

In 1964 his interest in art deepened and he moved to Cornwall where he worked full-time, allowing him to continue painting. It was ten years before he had his first exhibition. During this time John made close artist friends with Dick Gilbert and later John Wells, Denis Mitchell and Alexander Mackenzie.

Since the early 1980s John has lived in St Ives, working from a Porthmeor Studio overlooking Porthmeor Beach. The studio was previously used by the sculptor John Milne.

Over the years, John has visited the Scillies – in particular St Agnes and St Martins; the northern fells and lakes of Cumbria and the island of Mull.

1930 Born in Bury, Lancashire

1963 Started painting
1964 Moved to Cornwall
1968 Elected member of Penwith Society of Arts
1975 First solo exhibition, Wills Lane Gallery, St Ives
1978 Invited to show at the Artist Market Warehouse, Covent Garden, London
1979 Work selected for the Cleveland International Drawing Biennale
1979/80 Selected for TV Open Art Exhibition, The Brewhouse Theatre, Taunton and Newlyn Art Gallery
1982 Took tenancy of 2 Porthmeor Studios
1982 Work selected for Hayward Annual, London
1984/85 Work selected for TSW Open Touring Exhibition

1990 Included in ‘Ten Etchings’, a portfolio of etchings created to raise funds to build the proposed new Tate St Ives
1992 Founder member of Porthmeor Printmakers
1992 Work selected for TSW South West Open exhibition, Plymouth and Truro
1993 Commissioned by Tate St Ives to make an etching for the opening of the Gallery as one of the ‘Porthmeor Printmakers’
1994 Conducted two workshops at Tate St Ives to coincide with the study display ‘Peter Lanyon – Generation’
1995 Spring Exhibition, Newlyn Gallery, selected by Angela Flowers and Sandra Blow
1999 Spring Exhibition, Newlyn Gallery, selected by William Packer
2002 Invited artist at ‘The Discerning Eye’ exhibition, Mall Galleries, London
2003 ‘Curator’s Choice’ Castlegate House Gallery, Cockermouth Cumbria
2003 ‘Nudes’ Galerie Pelar, Greenport, New York


One-Person Exhibitions

1975 Wills Lane Gallery, St Ives
1976 Wills Lane Gallery, St Ives
1976 Newlyn Gallery
1979 Penwith Gallery (ten years work)
1979 Gilbert Parr Gallery, London
1979 Montpelier Studio, London (opening exhibition)
1982 Montpelier Studio, London
1984 Montpelier Studio, London
1986 Salthouse Gallery, St Ives
1987 Montpelier Studio, London
1988 Beaux Arts Gallery, Bath
1991 Montpelier Studio, London
1992 Beaux Arts Gallery, Bath
1993 Candover Gallery, Alresford, Hampshire
1994 Sims Gallery, St Ives
1997 Candover Gallery, Alresford, Hampshire
1998 Montpelier-Sandelson, London
2000 Candover Gallery, Alresford, Hampshire
2004 Maltby Art, Winchester