Martin Bradshaw

Martin Bradshaw

Martin Bradshaw created many of the paintings for this website. He is the co-creator of A Pocketful of Rye travel guides which we have now made into this blog.

Martin will be well known to many in Rye, as he was once actively engaged in its cultural life as coordinator of visual arts for the Rye Arts Festival, and subsequently designed the festival brochure for several years.

He is known for his vibrant paintings and exciting use of colour.  When I worked with him on designs for the festival brochure, he tugged me away from my neutral Farrow and Ball tones and gave me the courage to use bright oranges, blues and purples.  I heard similar praise from students on his art workshops where he encouraged them to be bold and experimental.  Until quite recently, he worked almost entirely in watercolour, but then chose to migrate to painting in acrylics on canvas in order to explore picture making on a larger scale.

Martin moved to St Leonards-on-Sea a few years ago where he divides his time between painting, exhibiting and working at Hastings Arts Forum as gallery coordinator. “There is a vicarious pleasure derived from seeing other artists’ work in the gallery. Exhibitions change every two weeks, so there is a constant flow of art work which is wonderful and often inspiring” he says.

From music to art

Originally trained as a professional cellist Martin came to live in Rye to concentrate on his other passion: painting. He says “Architectural subjects: buildings, structures and even plants, have been a source of inspiration for my work for as long as I can remember, which I think developed from the many cathedrals, churches and theatres I worked in as a musician.”

He left his job as a cellist in the BBC to study art for two years. “I had been with the orchestra for ten years, and I remember sitting in a rehearsal and thinking: I don’t want to get to retirement having done nothing else” So, one Monday morning in 1991 he found himself sitting in his first life class at Camden School of Art having done his last concert, and leaving a salaried job, the night before.

Working mostly from drawings and sketches, and imagination, he aims to articulate a response to the exotic and mundane aspects of the world as he experiences them, be it life in St Leonards, or further afield. “Some of my most successful pictures are done spontaneously, working quickly and instinctively without too much forethought. It seems to encourage a looser style and feel – otherwise I tend to get bogged down fiddling with the painting, which usually leads to tragedy!”

The image gallery shows a range of his work but more can be seen on his website at

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