approaching wonderland

Spencer Shakespeare Artist Statement

Spencer Shakespeare says of his work he is ‘looking for transcendence from the bleakness of the modern world’, and a sense of utopia is precisely what comes across in his raw, generative paintings. Prelapsarian abundance is what first strikes you when looking at his abstract canvases. It is nature who inspires him; nature and its many intricate relationships that flow out of his fingers: the shape of a tree against the foliage, a bird’s flight in an empty sky, a beetle in it’s leaf-world. Shakespeare feels the awe of the sublime not from looking upon a vast vista, but in the minutiae of the earth: the small worlds that carry on without any knowledge of humanity's existence. 


Born in London in 1967, Shakespeare discovered his addiction to natural spaces in his yearly holidays to Cornwall with his family, which, after 20 years of living in Australia's Gold Coast he has returned to, residing near Penzance where he says the bird song is at its most beautiful. Being an obsessive and automatic drawer since the age of seven, Shakespeare completed a degree in Illustration at Bournemouth College of Art and Design (1992-1995). Although his love of drawing never stopped, as he matured both as a person and an artist, he sought to break away from commissioned work, seeking his own artistic independence. Now an internationally successful artist, independence is what he has certainly achieved. 


He enjoys transcribing places of intersection; the coastline, the edge of forests- places where a transition of boundaries takes place. The garden is significant in his work because of the element of interchange between the domestic boundary and the beginning of wilderness. Although he is inspired by places such as these, he never strives for specifics nor is beholden to the landscape around him, instead drawing and exposing his own imaginary world. His work connotes a kind of mystery, a kind of magic. A world where colours are intense, high-contrast, energetic: vibrating with an emotional energy. His abstract canvases show the blurred boundaries of the humming world he sees: a door for you, the viewer, that opens into wonderland. 


Above all else Shakespeare is an expressionist, tapping into an automatic, corporeal, instinctive creative tendency where he casts the world in colour. Therefore, because of this unrestrained and flexible way of transcribing the world, Shakespeare is not an artist to be constrained by discipline. Today he’s an abstract artist, tomorrow he might start a band, build a house, or become a furniture designer. His creative energy radiates from him, turning everything he touches to rapturous colour.

For more information: