Neil Lawson Baker

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Neil Lawson Baker
Neil Lawson Baker.jpg
Neil Lawson Baker – taken in 2007
Born (1938-11-08) November 8, 1938 (age 75)
Watford, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Nationality British
Education Self taught
Known for Painting, sculpture, photography
Movement Contemporary

Neil Lawson Baker (born 1938) is a British artist, sculptor and photographer.

Early life[edit]

Baker attended the Merchant Taylors' School in Northwood, Middlesex as a day boy and then went on to Guy's Hospital in London where he qualified as a dental surgeon. Wishing to further his career, he went on to study medicine and qualified as a doctor in 1969 at St George's Hospital at Hyde Park Corner in the heart of London's West End (the building is now the Lanesborough Hotel). Baker then went on to work at The 31 Wilton Place Practice where he became senior partner and continued as a leading Dental Surgeon for a further 40 years, specialising in high quality restorative dentistry. He also founded The Oral Hygiene Centre at No1 Devonshire Place in the heart of London's Harley Street area. This was the first truly preventive dental practice of its type founded in 1978 and it certainly helped to pioneer preventive dentistry. He retired from practice at the age of 70 years – calling it "a career change" – into the art world.

Artistic career[edit]

His first artistic expression came while at school where he made a lot of pottery, little of which survives.

Neil used his medical and dentistry knowledge to fund his passion for art and travelled the world visiting galleries and acquiring much contemporary art for his home in London. He developed a keen eye and formed a great interest, initially in the sculpture of Rodin and his school of followers, later moving to more contemporary schools.

His artistic passion was helped by meeting Adrien Maeght, the famous French art gallery and museum owner, who happened to be competing alongside Neil in the Paris – Nice vintage car rally in 1970 (Neil was a keen competitions driver in vintage cars). Invitations to visit the Galerie Maeght in Rue du Bac in Paris and later the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence to see paintings, sculpture and lithography by Picasso, Miró, Léger, Calder, Arp and many others, had a huge influence on what was to come.

After years of viewing and collecting, in 1987, during his recovery from a serious illness, Neil began to model sculptures as recuperative therapy. His surgeon's eye–hand skills were helped by a lesson from Kees Verkade, the well-known Dutch sculptor. Kees showed Neil how to model in wax. Neil soon found himself meeting Eric Gibbard at the Burleighfield Foundry who have done work for the Tate Gallery, Elizabeth Frink, Philip Jackson, and Oscar Nemon, indeed Eric cast every bronze of Barbara Hepworth's after 1952.

Eric became Neil's friend and mentor and took him to Paris to meet Charles Pinellis at the famous Susse-Fondeur in Arcueil. As a result he soon produced many bronze sculptures both in the UK and France and began selling to private collectors and then to corporate clients.

Many of his works can now be found in public places both in the UK and abroad. His sculptures may be seen in the entrance to the offices of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster; at British Gas Headquarters in Reading and Loughborough; in The London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange; near Albert Bridge at Sterling House on the River Thames; at the National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur; at Beirut University College in Lebanon and many other important sites.

Neil was also responsible for the sculpture unveiled by HM The Queen with President Mitterrand when they opened the Channel Tunnel in May 1994.

Late in 2003 Neil began to use colour and work on two dimensional pieces for the first time. His contemporary works of art are mostly abstract and vibrant and he is prolific in his output.

Neil uses Conté, watercolour and acrylic interchangeably. Many of the works are reminiscent of the art of the jazz musician (he was the lead saxophonist in his own swing band for some years, supporting more well-known bands) Neil moves his brush through the world of colour with great virtuosity. He paints as he played, with freedom and fluidity.

Since 2007, Neil has also been exploring the world of high resolution photography as a fine-art form producing a distinct style of work notably of Venice, Buenos Aires and London.

In 2006, Neil was appointed to the Board of The Arts Club in London and in 2007, Neil was appointed Chairman of the Trustees of the The Chichester Art Trust which manages and stages The National Open Art Competition and its Exhibitions both in Chichester and London.

Recent exhibitions[edit]

  • "Renaissance Man" The Oxmarket Gallery. Chichester,West Sussex. 2010. A 20 year retrospective.
  • "The Role of Photography in Contemporary Interior Design" presentation by Jane Arte Watt (BIDA, JAG Contemporary Design) at Franco's, Jermyn Street, London.
  • "The Russian Reception" photographic display in Canning House, Belgrave Square, London – March 2008.
  • "New Dimension: Fashion and Landmarks" – one month photography exhibition at The Burlington Club, London – February 2008;
  • "DepARTure" – The Arts Club, London: paintings, sculptures and photography – November 2007;

Personal life[edit]

Baker is married to Grace Lawson Baker, a Speech and Language therapist, and lives in West Sussex. His studio is in a barn at his home. He spends most of his time running The National Open Art Competition as Chairman of The Chichester Art Trust . ( Registered Charity No 1067096 ). He also continues riding and driving his classic cars, as well as pursuing his own personal artistic interests and travelling the world.

External links[edit]