Roland Collins (1918-2015)
Born on 17th September 1918 in Kensal Rise, London, Roland Collins (1918 - 2015) showed a strong artistic aptitude from an early age. While attending Kilburn Grammar School his talent was noted by his school master, Robert Whitmore, who encouraged Collins to attend art school. With the help of the London county council, he attended St. Martins School of Art in the Charing Cross Road and was taught by the likes of Leon Underwood and Vivian Pitchfoth. Collins was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1937, however for years he worked in relative obscurity until the mid-nineties when he was at last given a taste of the recognition he had long deserved.
A born and bred Londoner, Collins was a modest man with a ferocious talent for appreciating and recording the obscurities and particularities of England's cities, seaside, rivers and canals. His works display a joy in the veneration of the everyday, as he delighted in the aesthetic power a street sign, picket fence, anchor or fish cart could afford.
Working predominately in gouache on a format of 15 x 21 inches, his work records landscapes and cityscapes that have since disappeared. In 1964, Collins, and his wife Connie, purchased Ocean Cottage in Whitstable on the Kent coast. This was to provide an endless source of inspiration for Collins and arguably resulted in some of his finest work. Additionally, his forty years spent living and working in Fitzrovia, five years in the Cornish fishing town of Padstow and his and Connie's many visits to Dieppe all feature predominately throughout his oeuvre.
When not painting, Collins enjoyed working as a designer, photographer and writer. He designed his and Connie's Christmas cards each year and, in 1954, created a series of lithographs to illustrate Noel Carrington's book Colour and Pattern in the Home. His work can now be found in The Museum of London and Camden Borough.
Collins died in 2015 at the age of 97, leaving behind his romantic vision, executed in bold colour harnessed with daring compositional dexterity, which contributes a significant statement to 20th century British Art that is both distinct and yet in keeping with the work of his contemporaries Eric Ravilious, John Piper and Edward Bawden.