St John's College Oxford

New painting by Alan Halliday acquired by the College

Date 5 September 2016

The College has acquired a new painting by alumnus Alan Halliday (D.Phil 1979-82)

Halliday’s work is well known in College. His portrait of the celebrated tenor and Honorary Fellow Ian Bostridge singing Britten’s Death in Venice hangs in the Lodgings, and his work is also on display in the Kendrew Café.

The new work shows the President’s Garden as it was before construction began on the Study Centre, and is one of a series of six painted by Alan at the President’s invitation last September. Alan has also very kindly given to the College his original pastel drawings on which the paintings are based.

Alan Halliday - Painting of the President's Garden (2016) The President's Garden by Alan Halliday (2016)

Since receiving his D.Phil at St John’s in 1982, Halliday has worked as a full-time professional artist, often specialising in paintings of the theatre, for the Royal Ballet, Royal Opera, Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre and others. In 2015 the College hosted an exhibition of these paintings called ‘Vive le théâtre!’

Alan Halliday is internationally acclaimed for his colourful, dynamic work. Writing in The Times, art critic John Russell Taylor said, ‘Halliday paints what obsesses him. His style is boldly calligraphic. Even his large-scale oil paintings depend on the definition of effective line, while his smaller works in ink, gouache, and pastel are built on a structure of amazingly fluid, spontaneous strokes of the pen; but they are in fact more than that. While the line may define the form, it is the colour which gives it form and life.’ His first mentor, John Piper, summed up Halliday’s style as ‘an arrangement of painted marks, all on the surface and yet all in depth.’

Halliday’s paintings are held in many public collections such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, Theatre Museum and Museum of London, as well as in several Oxford colleges.

You can see more of Alan Halliday’s work here