Painter Terry Searle was born in London’s East End and spent the war years away from home, as did many children. He was sent to the countryside, away from the blitz. These years were influential in his love of nature, something that came to dominate his work in later times.
Terry first visited West Cork when travelling with a group of friends in the 1970s. A number of visits followed and he found himself ‘enchanted’ by the natural beauty of the place, and the civilised pace of life. Terry settled permanently in West Cork during the 1980s, and soon became a moving force in the artists’ community, helping to set up the West Cork Arts Centre – which thrives today.
Terry and his wife, fellow artist Penny Dixey, established themselves close to Ballydehob – and painted. Terry’s influences were many – particularly the large, colour-full abstracts of Rothko and Joan Mitchell – but his life-long hero was JMW Turner. London’s Tate Britain has the world’s largest collection of Turner on exhibition, so Terry had the opportunity to study his hero at first hand while he was training at St Martin’s School of Art and Goldsmith’s College. Turner challenged the art traditions of his time (first half of the 19th century) and his techniques appear very ‘modern’ to our eyes.
Terry Searle was closely involved in the running of the West Cork Arts Centre. He contributed to the Irland ’85 exhibition of West Cork artists in Zurich, and in 1987 was part of the important Living Landscape ‘87 Exhibition, which showed in the Crawford Gallery, Cork, as well as in the West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen.
Detail from a Terry Searle landscape