Peter Todd (1940 – 2018) was an amateur painter and professional landscape architect. His artistic practice -almost entirely in watercolour– was oriented towards self-expression and sharing with a close group of friends: his work was never exhibited in his lifetime outside of local art group shows, particularly in Thornbury, where he spent the latter 32 years of his life.

 

Self-taught (his first remaining works are from his 20s), he used painting as a form of personal diary, recording largely what he saw in the landscapes of the West Country, Germany, East Anglia, the Lake District, Italy and France -all places he was connected to professionally and personally.

 

In later life he was affiliated to a multitude of spiritual traditions, including the Church of England, Theosophy, Rosicrucianism and Zen Buddhism. It is possible to infer a pantheism in his work: it frequently records humble, direct vernacular scenes, and also heightened, fugitive moments of atmospheric dynamism in nature. A small collection of works dedicated to church architecture gives specificity to this preoccupation, as does an equally small -and intense- collection of surrealist works from the 1970s and 1980s in which the natural world appears protean, dynamic, surprising, even possessed.

 

A serious stroke in 2012 limited his perceptual capacities (in depth and colour): nevertheless, he used drawing -initially- as a tool to find his way out of the labyrinth of a broken mind (words had failed him); and he continued until his final days to record his fascination with the intersection of human life with its natural context.