Kent architecture

Eye-catching architect’s view of Kent leaves lasting, loving legacy

Sarah Bond reviews a unique exhibition and book showing different views of “Buildings in Kent” in honor of the late architect, artist and author Roger FitzGerald. They both launch at the Grierson Galleries in Cranbrook on September 17 and will fulfill his dying wish…

Architect Roger FitzGerald, who sadly died in Tunbridge Wells Hospital last month after living in Sevenoaks for over 30 years, left behind an extraordinary portfolio of paintings for others to enjoy. They reflect the incredible character of Kent, a county he loved to explore and capture on canvas.

As a notable artist, he had previously published books giving his take on buildings in Britain, London and New York, but when the pandemic hit he was forced to stay local. But that was fortuitous, as he was delighted to do so, as he loved nothing more than to venture out into the Kent countryside with his camera – either on foot with his wife Lynne or on a bicycle. In addition to buildings, he interpreted streetscapes, waterfronts, castles, and other scenes with his vivid strokes.

“He liked to experiment, applying charcoal, ink and glued elements to paper with his favorite acrylic paint”

He enjoyed experimenting, applying charcoal, ink and collage to paper with his favorite acrylic paint, and using tools as diverse as razor blades, rollers and pieces of cardboard. The results are impressionistic and playful, but always attentive to what makes particular buildings human-centric.

The book acknowledges how he was influenced by the great Wealden painters Samuel Palmer and Rowland Hilder, as well as Dover-born artist Mike Bernard, who transformed his approach to texture, color and abstraction.

Roger’s works have been exhibited at Somerset House, The Shard and the Royal Institute of British Architects, and are held in private collections around the world.

Achievement

Roger pursued his artistic quest with determination amid grueling chemotherapy sessions and medical appointments after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February 2021. Many of the drawings that appear in the book were created during his last years. weeks, and it was his biggest dying wish that the book and exhibition would come to fruition after his death and that the proceeds would be donated to the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK.

In a heartfelt statement posted to his Twitter account on August 9, his family said, “We are devastated to announce that our beloved husband and father passed away on July 6, 2022 while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. pancreas. He was only 63 years old.

“Roger leaves behind a tremendous legacy. He was a gifted architect and artist, but also a kind-hearted, calm and witty gentleman.

They added: ‘It was his wish that his last book and exhibition – both named Buildings of Kent – ​​would be completed if he died.

Now they have achieved that, with the book and paintings on display at Grierson Galleries, with which he has had a long association: “Roger was both one of our artists who had exhibited with Grierson Galleries for many years , and also a friend,” said a spokesperson for the gallery, which was previously based in Sevenoaks.

Personal profits from the exhibition will go to Pancreatic Cancer UK, a charity that supported him and his family after he was diagnosed with the disease in February 2021. Grierson Galleries is also donating 10% of his commission to the charity.

Roger moved to Sevenoaks in 1994, having designed a home for his wife and two young sons, James and Will, and he spent nearly four decades with ADP, one of the nation’s leading architectural firms, including he became president.

Among his proudest achievements as an architect were an innovative building with a curved roof for the Riverhead Infants’ School in Sevenoaks; a visitor reception building for the Palace of Westminster; the conversion of Oxford Castle from a prison to a hotel; and a master plan for the University of Sussex.

Admission to the exhibition is free.

Buildings of Kent books are priced at £10; works of art £200−400; limited edition prints £70−100.

For more information visit: www.griersongalleries.com

To see Roger’s other extraordinary paintings, including a wonderful cricketing image on The Vine and an illustrated map of Sevenoaks, which he called a “remarkable town”, visit: rogerfitzgerald.com

THE BOOK

Roger FitzGerald’s family say the Buildings of Kent book tells two stories.

First, his paintings, sketches and texts present the architecture of Kent and its relationship to the history and geography of the county.

Second, there is a more personal story behind it. Roger had long had the ambition to write this book and was not daunted by the prospect of doing so even after being diagnosed with cancer and while undergoing treatment.

Excursions around Kent have been arranged around chemotherapy sessions and the fatigue that follows. Pen drawings were made in his hospital room in Tunbridge Wells during his final weeks.

The book ends with a painting by Margate that was left unfinished in Roger’s studio before he sadly passed away. Some unfinished texts were completed by his son James in accordance with his father’s wishes.

“This book has enormous emotional significance for us as a symbol of her determination in the face of a cruel illness. We hope it serves as an inspiration to others,” Lynne, James and Will said.