Top of page Skip navigation Toggle menu

Exploring Beauty: Watercolour Diaries from the Wild

Beauty: (n) The quality that gives pleasure to the sight or aesthetic pleasure generally; a particular grace or excellence; a fine specimen of its kind.

Exploring Beauty – Watercolour Diaries from the Wild opened with a solo show at the Royal Watercolour Society, London on June 8th 2016, before travelling to the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, UK, July 2016.  It opened at The Foster Art and Wilderness Foundation, Palo Alto, CA on March 4th 2017.

In it I hope to promote the idea that making art which is philosophically positive and beautiful about some of the world’s most extraordinary places is an acceptable practice for a Contemporary Artist. I want to provoke a discussion about the nature of beauty and our varied perception of it, and why making beautiful objects is not longer a part of the artist’s required skill-set.

Read full artist's statement

In order to help identify the subjects for my paintings I asked Luminaries to nominate what they considered to be the most beautiful example in their field of expertise. I travelled to their nominated destinations, and made major works about their chosen subjects.  As befits the importance of the subject I have made the largest paintings I (or anybody else) have ever made on site – up to 7ft x 4ft.

I received varied and fascinating suggestions from:

  • Denali : Dr Winslow Briggs, Director Emeritus of the Carnegie Institute of Plant Biology , Stanford University.
  • The Grand Canyon : Dr Bill Brace (1926 - 2012) Chairman Emeritus of the Dept of Earth and Planetary Sciences, MIT.
  • Mulu, Borneo ; Robin Hanbury Tenison, Explorer.
  • Borneo Rainforest: Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, former Director Kew Botanical Garden.
  • The East Face of Everest looking down the Kama Valley : Stephen Vanables, climber.
  • Machapuchare: Annie & Bill Vanderbilt – writer and adventurers.
  • Maldives Sunsets : Ann Foster
  • New England Fall Colour : Peggy Brace, environmental campaigner / Massachusetts Democrat of the Year 2014.
  • Parinacota, Chile : Professor Steve Sparks, Chairman of the Geological Society and winner of the Vetlessen Prize 2015.
  • Atacama Desert Chile ; Professor Maria Teresa Ruiz, Professor of Astronomy, University of Chile.
  • Wistmans Wood, Dartmoor : John Halkes, former Chairman Friends of the Earth UK , gallery director and Parish priest.
  • Mont Blanc: Lionel Wibault, Senior Chamonix Guide and artist.
  • Icebergs in Greenland : Kari Herbert, early Northern Greenland resident – daughter of Sir Wally Herbert.
  • Places I can walk to form my own back door : Tony Foster

As a contrast to places of global renown I also made a group of works about places I can walk to from my home in Cornwall, as evidence that beauty can be found on ones own doorstep.

This exhibition is necessarily my subjective personal response. Although beautiful, it is NOT an exhibition of sentimental clichés. I hope it will lead to debate and discussions about the nature of beauty in the 21st century, and its place in Contemporary Art.

Tony Foster


Spring 2016

Beauty is the most dangerous idea in art …. (it) has been worshipped as the highest artistic value and denigrated as a pagan temptation. (Jonathan Jones).

Displaying 1-8 of 40 paintings
Show all
Displaying 1-8 of 40 paintings
Show all