'Palmer XI, Clouds That Drop Fatness on The Earth, 2012, acrylic on fabric mesh, '
170.2 x 144.8cm

Tillyer's 'Palmer Paintings (Clouds that Drop Fatness on the Earth)' will be the second exhibition in The Bernard Jacobson Gallery's new space on Duke Street St James’s.

The Palmer paintings continue Tillyer’s long engagement with the English landscape and in particular his lifelong obsession with clouds. The Palmer of the title is Samuel Palmer 1805-81 the visionary British Romantic landscape painter who, like Tillyer, had an almost mystical view of man’s relationship with the landscape and who has long been an influence and inspiration for Tillyer. (The subtitle is from a line in Samuel Palmer's notebook).

Abstracted dreamlike cloudscapes bathed in a golden light, these paintings combine Tillyers’s Romantic as well as his materialist sensibilities. The paintings are produced using a unique technique whereby Tillyer pushes acrylic paint through a fabric mesh that he hangs from the ceiling of his studio. Working from behind as well as from the front he gives a third dimension to his painting, breaking through the grid-like picture plane implied by the mesh and into the real world.

In these works, according to the American poet and art critic John Yau, “Tillyer has achieved an intensity that surpasses his earlier work. He has brought the visionary insights of William Blake and Samuel Palmer into the 21st century....The Palmer paintings are apocalyptic and ravishing, sublime and mysterious.”

Tillyer has recently been working with the acclaimed British poet Alice Oswald who won the T.S. Eliot prize for poetry for her book length poem Dart which celebrates the Devon river. Sharing a similar love of the landscape and an interest in updating our ways of looking at it, Oswald has written a poem reflecting on one of the Palmer paintings to accompany the exhibition.

This will be the first exhibition in London since Tillyer was given the largest single artist exhibition at mima in Middlesbrough. The exhibition went on to become the most visited in the museum’s history.

Tillyer’s work is in many major collections worldwide including Tate and the MoMA, New York.

Bernard Jacobson Gallery’s new premises are in a converted car park in Duke Street St James’s, London, opposite the Royal Academy. Designed by Nick Gowing architects, the gallery occupies the ground and lower ground floor of an extensive, contemporary exhibition space.


William Tillyer is spending much of this year making watercolour drawings. These works on paper 'The Frobisher Watercolours' are intended as a prelude to a new group of paintings for 2015. The works on paper will be shown at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery during 2015 and the new paintings will be shown in 2016

The ‘Frobisher Watercolours’ are worked on a square format hand made paper using the paint medium ‘Vintage Watercolours’ these high quality pigments are manufactured in the U.K. by Pip Seymour Fine Art Products

'Frobisher' is part of The Barbican complex in the City of London and is Tillyer's present studio setting, providing much of the material and inspiration for the new works.

In 1974 Tillyer began making a series of etching plates illustrating the Karl Huysmans' book ‘À Rebours’. This printmaking aspect of his practice continued for a number of years, producing 50 images. Tillyer has returned to this project and is presently working on further images to complete what is envisaged to be a 100 image publication. Some of the earlier etching plates are presently being editioned by Clifton Editions in Bristol. The entire project will be completed and shown at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery in 2018 celebrating Tillyer's 80th year.

Pip Seymour Fine Art Products

A Free Thinking career interview with artist William Tillyer, whose work is being celebrated in a retrospective at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art MIMA.

Listen to Night Waves

In the build up to exhibition 'Against Nature' at mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art), and whilst putting the finishing touches to his series 'The Watering Place' William Tillyer was joined in his North Yorkshire studio by writer and critic Mel Gooding to discuss his work.

watch Against Nature

An exhibition of new works by William Tillyer opens at The Bernard Jacobson Gallery with a Private View on Thursday October 10th from 6-8pm and runs from 11th October - 30th November 2013.

The exhibition will consist of works from two new series: 'The Watering Place' and 'Palmer' and coincides with the retrospective exhibition at MIMA, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, which opens to the public on 25th October 2013.

The Watering Place takes its name from the Rubens masterpiece in the collection of the National Gallery, London (1615-22). This work was also the inspiration for a painting of the same name by the English artist Thomas Gainsborough (before 1777) and later for John Constable's The Hay Wain(1821), both paintings also in the collection of the National Gallery, London. Tillyer?s eponymous Palmer series refers to the romantic and visionary landscape painter Samuel Palmer (1805-1881) and both series can be seen as part of that same English romantic landscape tradition.

Both series convey Tillyer?s deep engagement with painting, particularly abstraction and the tradition of landscape painting. They also reveal the undiminished ambition with which the artist continues to bring fresh insight to the underlying obsessions of his experimental oeuvre; his investigations into the nature of the art object and its role in the world; and his search for materials and techniques not usually associated with painting.

Read the Press Release

On Sunday 27th October, 2013 at 2.15pm William Tillyer will be a guest at Free Thinking to talk to BBC Look North's Sharuna Sagar about an artistic career which has embraced watercolours, print making, drawing, working in tapestry and ceramics and with glass blowers at the National Glass Museum in Sunderland.

Information and Tickets

'For Patinir No.2'

'Haven No.5'

William Tillyer, one of Britain's foremost practitioners of watercolour, marks his 75th birthday with an exhibition of new work.

The Inspired by... gallery brings the work of contemporary artists into the heart of the North York Moors National Park. In many ways, it is the perfect place to show the work of William Tillyer, whose experimental approach to abstraction is rooted fundamentally in a passion for landscape.

In this new exhibition of watercolour drawings and works on paper, he addresses the themes of structure and geometry within an inhabited, working landscape, offering a different perspective on the North York Moors National Park.

Exhibition details

William has recently been continuing a life long exploration of media, techniques and craftsmanship, working with glass blowers at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland. Still in the prototype stage these pieces have been created with James Maskrey. The finished works will form part of the forthcoming exhibition at mima.

Previous collaborations have included the creation of tapestry pieces, high tech machine embroidery, ceramics and bronze casting.