Interview with Artist Graham Byfield

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Menorca | 9 comments

Interview with Artist Graham Byfield

We were so excited here at MSS to be invited along to the studio of the brilliantly talented watercolour artist, Graham Byfield for a cup of tea and a chat about his work and the man behind the paintings. As we arrived at his studio the artist was busy getting ready for his exhibition in France. Graham Byfield is a watercolour artist who specialises in what has been called “Architecture in Landscape”. He has produced a series of sketchbooks including London, Oxford, Bali, Singapore and Amsterdam which have all been successful internationally. The cards and prints that he makes can also be found in hotels such as Raffles, the Ritz and the Four Seasons Group.

How long have you lived in Menorca?

About 18 years but before I settled here full time I did 6 months here and 6 months away working in Singapore. I did leave Singapore and intended to settle on the island full time however I was offered my old job back one year working as a Creative Director in advertising during the winter months, it was out of the blue but a bit of a necessity at the time and so I excepted. Eventually my partner Ros and I settled here full time and established our lifestyle in Menorca and Ros ran the gallery here.

How does the island inspire you?

It has to be the light, the light is fantastic, also the architecture being an architectural artist I fell in love with it and I would go out sketching whilst we were on holiday here. We also found the Menorcan people seemed to like the English people and I think that’s because of the English influence in the history here in Menorca, another wonderful thing about the island. So both the people really and the variety of architecture here from the Georgian architecture belonging to Mahons’ town houses and the rural farmhouses, there are some really great shapes to sketch.

What part of the island is your favourite and why?

Definitely this area, Es Migjorn because of the countryside and its farm land. We found the house here and loved it and thought we’d buy it, it was great for the gallery. I’m a Gloucester person and had lived in the countryside for many years prior to moving to Menorca so we leant towards the more rural parts of the island.

What would be the one thing that you would recommend to do to someone visiting the island?

That would be to go and visit the Theatre. They have some wonderful shows on there. Ros was really into the Opera which I was educated to by her and we became friends of the Theatre. Ros would always find out which shows were on, so we used to go often, even to the freebies, or when the local orchestra (who are very good, half of them are from Es Migjorn!) played. They put on wonderful shows and we always had a fantastic time. It is also a unique building, it is the oldest Theatre in Spain, dating back to 1829, I found that fascinating. You have to go in and have a look it’s beautifully designed inside. I did some research into who designed the Theatre and it was an Italian architect who was an opera singer! When you think the population of Menorca couldn’t have been more than about 20,000 around that time and yet they had this amazing Theatre, I think that’s fabulous and the fact that it is older than anything in Barcelona or Madrid. So it would be an unusual and wonderful thing to do.

What do you think Menorca’s Secret Style is?

It has to be the people, they are very friendly and I find them very polite. When I go to the restaurants that I do and use the local shops, I always find the locals welcoming.

Which comes first for you, the site of a location that you want to paint or the idea for a painting?

Bit of both actually, certainly if I’m out in the countryside I’ll see an interesting subject so i’ll suggest that is the first thing that inspires me, the subject that I see. However if i’m thinking I wouldn’t mind doing a series on the traditional Menorcan gates then that’s what would have inspired me and I’ll go off and have a look and do some research.

Where is your favourite place to paint, at home in the studio or outside in the fresh air?

I like painting outside so alfresco would be the answer. Everything I do here in Menorca is done outside because of the weather conditions. I was trained to do that at art college, even in England! It probably gave me my spontaneity as well as having an ability to draw which was discovered whilst I was young.

How or when did you discover your talent for watercolour?

I was at boarding school in Kent and one half term my Art Master was talking to my dad and he said ‘your son should go into the arts, I have decided to take him for private lessons’. I was 15 at the time all i really wanted to do was to go and play cricket or rugby, I was quite sporty and not really very academic. I liked History and Geography but the art talent that was discovered was just natural. Dad was never allowed to do what he really wanted to do as a young man by his father, my grandfather, and he had to go and work in the City of London. Dad was a really good pianist and wanted to turn professional but was never allowed. He had always said to me, I’ll allow you to go into whatever your talent leans you towards. As soon as i went to Art College which was down in Devon in Torquay I knew what I wanted to do, within three months my talent had really shone through.

Do you have a secret stash of sketches that mean something to you but that you never intend to sell?

Yes, I have some special ones that I keep for various reasons, mainly for family reasons, different sketches and paintings that I have done over the years. I also have some that I keep for my own reasons, ones that I personally like and i’m not going to sell. I think every artist has that, tucked away somewhere.

Do you think that Menorca has a strong artistic style to it?

Yes certainly, when I say that I mean there are many artists that have settled here and who love working here and are clearly inspired by the landscape, the atmosphere, the light, definitely the light and in fact the relaxed, un-pressurised society. I’m sure that attracts a lot of artists.

Graham Byfield Gallery,

Es Migjorn Gran, Menorca.

Tel: (0034) 971370364

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9 Comments

  1. I have a Graham Byfield watercolour of Suffolk Square, Cheltenham. I am trying to find out some more information about it. I acquired it from me previous employer – the Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society. I was wondering if it was an original and its approximate value. Thanks.

    • I am sure Graham would be happy to answer any questions that you have, contact the Gallery : Tel: (0034) 971370364

    • Please contact Graham directly at his gallery on Tel: (0034) 971370364, many thanks.

  2. Hi Graham,
    I have been advised to visit you by Mark from Lincoln (owns mens clothing shop). We have an apaartment on Son Parc and are coming back on 30th Aug. Can you e-mail with your opening times and address please. Soo

    • Soo Durham, you can find out the opening times by contacting the Gallery : Tel: (0034) 971370364

    • Please contact Graham directly at his gallery on Tel: (0034) 971370364, many thanks.

  3. I worked for graham in the gallery in menorca . A true and talented man. Very humble.

  4. I have two pictures by graham byfield painted in 1995 one is a country affair at soth lodge hotel and a country affair at ballasthie house hotel I got them from a charity shop did I get a bargin? They are beautiful they are water colours.

    Kind regards rosina.

  5. My only contact for Graham Byfield is here, Tel: (0034) 971370364. I am sure he would be happy to help

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