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MEET HUMPHREY OCEAN
Long standing readers of the SANDWICH will already be familiar with the colourful personality and work of the painter and musician, Humphrey Ocean, who has been featured in these pages since the very first issue (see Gallery Corner: C.S. No. 1, 1977; Ocean's View: C.S. No. 12, 1978). A former member of the band Kilburn and the High Roads, Humphrey's connection with the McCartneys stems from his doing an inner sleeve drawing for the album 'Wings at the Speed of Sound', which led to his being invited to accompany Wings on their successful American tour in 1976 as an 'artist in residence'. Just published is the result of that experience, The Ocean View*, a book of drawings and paintings which captures vividly the atmosphere of Wings on the road in the U.S.A.
Humphrey moves easily between the worlds of art and music, gaining both stimulation and relaxation by flitting between them. After his tour with Wings, he returned to painting for a spell and did some drawings and a cover for the Radio Times, before finding a surprising success with his single, 'Woops a Daisy' on Stiff Records, which peaked at No. 187 in the charts!
Returning to his art again, Humphrey exhibited a painting entitled 'Triumph' at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1979 - later to be highly commended at the Imperial Tobacco Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery - which was featured in the magazine Over 21. That publicity resulted in his being offered a commission by the Artistic Records Committee to do a naval study for the Imperial War Museum in London. So Ocean took to the waves, spending a week at sea on H.M.S. Broad Sword. It was a most rewarding experience for him both personally and artistically. He later spent three weeks down at Plymouth docks finishing off his work. The result was one painting entitled 'Rescuing the Dan Buoy', which is at the Imperial War Museum, and five complementary drawings.
In December 1980 Humphrey's career revolved once again around music, as he went out on the road with the band Madness for their U.K. Christmas tour, acting as their master of ceremonies. It was lots of fun and zaniness, which also afforded Humphrey time for some pen and ink drawings during the moments of tedium while travelling and waiting around back stage.
Humphrey's concentration on portraiture continued with his little picture of the anthropologist and songwriter, Dr. Lew Oxbow, shown at the Royal academy in the summer of 1981. The Actor Sebastian shaw was the subject of another entry at the 2nd Imperial Tobacco show at the National Portrait Gallery.
Earlier this year Humphrey had an unfinished version of the picture 'Lord Volvo and His Estate' in the Whitechapel Open Exhibition, and also had his portrait of Ceri House entered in the South Bank Show at the South London Art Gallery. It came as no surprise to his many admirers when he secured first prize in the 3rd Imperial Tobacco Exhibition for 'Lord Volvo'. It's a self portrait, with an interesting perspective, which features his marvellous old Volvo. Part of the award is a commission to do a portrait of a 'well known sitter'.
He says his interest in painting people really stems from the work he did on the Wings tour, where he really concentrated on painting people for the first time. People, he feels are really the most interesting and worthwhile subjects, although he occasionally turns his hand to inanimate subject matters somewhat as a relief from the intensity of portraiture.
Recently Humphrey's life has reached another milestone, with the birth of his daughter Ruby, now four months old. As we congratulate him on this even! and his prestigious prize, we eagerly await the next developments in his careers.
*Published in the UK in December by PLEXUS at £9.95