Kevin Tole



I see my work as reflection of Place first and foremost - whether that place is offshore on an oil rig, standing with a rock reflecting on landscape or simply the broken planes and fragments of paving stones you might see when out in the city. The means of investigation have become more varied and the paintings and drawings become the external manifestations of internal and external journeys. Place and Time become linking factors and the struggle is to make people feel the essence and the beauty of place and the movement through time To see the beauty in the superficially ugly; to realise the depth in an industrial scene; to recognise the growth in decomposition or degradation or corrosion .

The material and classical qualities of painting and drawing are also important in that I feel deeply grounded as a product of a style of art teaching which appears to be changing . The simple tenets of drawing and painting are important to me whether that is space against space, mark-making or ‘balance’ for want of another word, and the continual struggle that an artist faces to remain true to those values and to discern and decant and inform through the work.

After working on pieces for some time they begin to take on their own voice and to speak for themselves and to manipulate their development through painterly means of the pictorial surface and can become something quite different from the initial stimulus.

Since moving back to the south west in 2010 I have intensively developed this association through studies of recollections of rig 'landscapes', through work on Dartmoor, through intensive drawing of trees and their local environments, by studies of old mines and quarries and the China Clay workings, through walking, through maps and through observation. I see the time I spend outside the studio as in no way separate. It feeds into me as a painter and forces a line of investigation in my work. The offshore work was almost as fundamental as the painting is and it has broadened my knowledge and allows me to experience visual references which I would otherwise miss. My love of trees has been extended with my membership of the Arborealist group of artists.


  • Born and raised in Plymouth
  • Honours Degree in Mining Geology in London 1974 – 1977
  • After periods working in outdoor education, went offshore as roughneck then mudlogger and drilling engineer. Worked North Sea and all over the world.
  • Studied part-time ceramics, Sir John Cass College, Aldgate East, London. 
  • Studied Ceramics and Sculpture at Camborne and then Falmouth College of Art and Design; 1983 – 1988 (working sabbatical taken during this period (worked in theatre as prop maker and stage carpenter in Plymouth and London including Royal Opera House, Covent Garden) to pay for the course when the money ran out)
  • PGCE in Art and Design, Bretton Hall College, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1989
  •  Taught Art for 2 years in Oxfordshire in both schools and adult education.
  •  Went back to working offshore and moved to Scotland in 1991.Worked and lived in Russia then moved to work in Sub-Sahara Africa
  • Returned to Plymouth in 2010 and continued working in Sub-Sahara Africa
  • Made redundant in May 2015 and since then continuously painting and making art
  • Invited member to the Arborealists, a national and increasingly European group of artists working around the theme of trees.

I have been continuously producing my art since ’82. Most of this has been done from home in Scotland and overseas. I have exhibited very little work but generally sold steadily through joint exhibitions and to friends and acquaintances.

Exhibition History

11/3/17 - 17/3/17An exhibition related to the history and legacy of mining
4th Nov - 16 Dec 2016Jerwood Drawing 2016, ICIA Bath
23rd Sept - 25th Sept 2016Chrysalis, Flameworks Open, Devonport Guildhall, Devon
14th Sept - 23rd OctJerwood Drawing Prize 2016, Jerwood Space, London
34th May-5th June, 20163 Painters, Harbour House, Kingsbridge
December 12th - 23rdFlameworks Christmas Show, Plymouth, Devon
September 4-26 20154 Painters, Artmill Gallery Plymouth
August 8-21Plymouth Other Open, Devonport Live, 56-58 George Street, Devonport
September 23rd - 27th 2014Open Submission South West Academy of Fine and Applied Arts
Nov 2013Joint Show, Harbour House Kingsbridge
Nov / Dec 2012Christmas Joint Exhibition, Artmill Gallery, Hyde Park, Plymouth
August 2012Summer Exhibition, Artmill Gallery, Hyde Park, Plymouth
October 2011The Art of Smallness, Harbour House, Kingsbridge, Devon
December 2010Joint exhibition, Artmill Gallery, Hyde Park Plymouth
May 2003Solo exhibition; Baker Hughes Building Aberdeen
December 1989Joint Open Submission, Watermill Art centre, Brentford