Kevin Tole



Drawing is a fundamental part of my practice. I work into sketchbooks daily. In recent years my work has focussed on large charcoal drawings specific to certain locations and tends to be focussed on temporally longer studies in these locations. These began with a year-long study of three trees on the edge of Dartmoor, producing an A1 sized charcoal drawing per week through that year. It became a record of temporal and contextual changes in that group through that year.  I often include contextual studies to set the trees in their local environment.

More recent projects have been either shorter in time duration or less concentrated in the delivery of work. In almost all the projects I have incorporated material found in and around the location or charcoal made from the subject trees. I find that the natural variation achieved when hand-making charcoal gives a variety and a quality of mark I cannot achieve with bought charcoal, though I am not per se averse to wholesale manufactured charcoal. With hand-made, it may be the ‘lack’ of a mark or the slight colour that helps to push a drawing in the direction I want.  I am also interested in the translation of marks and what happens when scale is changed. This has led to a number of very large charcoal drawings, the largest being 5.75m x 1.50m, which are nigh impossible to mount and very difficult to show, but which demonstrate how the marks themselves and the perception of the marks can change with scale, how it is the viewer indeed that makes the picture whole .

I tend to multi-layer my work, building up a surface through various charcoals, all of which have different qualities, using the white of the paper as well as white charcoal, pastel or Conté.  It is important to me to view the work right up close observing the marks and their interactions, as well as at a distance to view the subject.  At close viewing the marks themselves become abstract and non-specific, only self- and intra-related. Then as one moves out you begin see the context of the marks which may be even derived randomly, fall into a progressive whole and become inter-related.

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 

I am not averse to working from photographs. This has been a tool of artists since the birth of photography, however what is arrived at in the drawing, even when working from photographs, is most certainly not a drawing of a photograph. The photograph is purely as an aide memoire.  Each viewer brings his or her own perceptions to the work – a personal phenomenology outside the phenomenology of the artist.


  • Born and raised in Plymouth
  • Honours Degree in Mining Geology at Imperial College, 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.
  • Moved to Glasgow
  • Went back to working offshore .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
  • Member to the Arborealists, a national and 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

12/4/21 - 10/6/2121 Group Spring Show, Limekiln Gallery, Calstock
19/1/21 - 12/3/21Being with Trees; Gustavo Bacarias Gallery, Gibraltar
7/11/20 - 24/12/20Winter Exhibition, Limekiln Gallery, Calstock
22/8/20 - 10/10/20Trees and Woodlands of Dartmoor and Exmoor; Museum of Somerset, Taunton
21/2/10 - 21/3/20Wood, Rust, Stone, Fire; solo exhibition Artmill Gallery, Plymouth
22/10/19 - 2/11/19Draw 19; SGFA Centenary Exhibition, Menier Gallery, London
4/10/19 - 2/11/19Artmill 100, small works, Artmill Gallery, Plymouth
24/9/19 - 6/10/19The Arborealists and Guests, Fyne Court, Bridgwater, Somerset
19/6/19 - 2/9/19Evolving the Forest, Dartington Hall Gallery, Devon
9/3/19 - 28/4/19The Arborealists and Guests, Collegiate Ste Croix, Loudun, France
29/9/18 - 20/11/18The Arborealists and Guests, St Ives Society of Artists, St Ives Cornwall
22/9/18 - 30/9/18Open Studios, Plymouth
21/7/18 - 2/9/18The Arborealists and Guests, Black Swan Arts, Frome
10/7/18 - 4/8/18Signposts 7: Future Pathways; Peninsula Arts, Cube 3, Universitry of Plymouth
23/6/18 - 9/8/18Limekiln Summer Show, Calstock, Cornwall
13/4/18 - 17/5/18Silva; Drawings by K Tole; STERTS Arts Centre, East Cornwall
21/3/18 - 12/5/18Bath Society of Artists 113th Annual Open Exhibition
10/2/18 - 17/3/18Print and Drawing Show, Artmill Gallery, Plymouth
18/2/18 - 16/3/18Fresh Off the Press, Tamar Valley Printmakers, Limekiln Gallery, Calstock
3/11/17 - 9/1/18Teeside Print Prize, Saabat Gallery, Teeside
2/9/17 - 10/9/17Open Studios Plymouth
10/7/17 - 4/8/17Signposts 6: String Theories; Cube3 Gallery, Penninsular Arts, Plymouth University
21/6/17 - 18/9/17Tamar valley Printmakers, Limekiln Gallery, Calstock
19/5/17 - 15/7/17Bath Society of Artists Open Exhibition
30/3/17 - 27/4/17Jerwood Drawing Prize 2016, The Gallery, Arts University, Bournemouth
11/3/17 - 17/3/17An exhibition related to the history and legacy of mining
4/11/16 - 16/12/16Jerwood Drawing 2016, ICIA Bath
23/9/16 - 25/9/16Chrysalis, Flameworks Open, Devonport Guildhall, Devon
14/9/16 - 23/10/16Jerwood Drawing Prize 2016, Jerwood Space, London
3/5/16 - 5/6/163 Painters, Harbour House, Kingsbridge
12/12/16 - 23/12/16Flameworks Christmas Show, Plymouth, Devon
4/9/15 - 26/9/154 Painters, Artmill Gallery Plymouth
8/8/15 - 21/8/15Plymouth Other Open, Devonport Live, 56-58 George Street, Devonport
23/9/14 - 27/9/14Open Submission South West Academy of Fine and Applied Arts
1/11/13 - 30/11/13Joint Show, Harbour House Kingsbridge
1/11/12 - 31/12/12Christmas Joint Exhibition, Artmill Gallery, Hyde Park, Plymouth
1/8/12 - 31/8/12Summer Exhibition, Artmill Gallery, Hyde Park, Plymouth
1/10/11 - 31/10/11The Art of Smallness, Harbour House, Kingsbridge, Devon
1/12/10 - 31/12/10Joint exhibition, Artmill Gallery, Hyde Park Plymouth
1/5/30 - 31/5/03Solo exhibition; Baker Hughes Building Aberdeen
December 1989Joint Open Submission, Watermill Art centre, Brentford