Meet Surrey Life Landscape Painter of the Year winner, Judit Matthews

PUBLISHED: 09:27 27 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:27 27 April 2017

Artworks by Surrey Life Landscape Painter of the Year, Judit Matthews

Artworks by Surrey Life Landscape Painter of the Year, Judit Matthews

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Her vibrant and refreshing take on our beautiful county saw Judit Matthews named our first Landscape Painter of the Year. Matthew Williams discovers her inspirations

Judit with Dorking Vista, which won her the Surrey Life Landscape Painter of the Year titleJudit with Dorking Vista, which won her the Surrey Life Landscape Painter of the Year title

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2017

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Congratulations on being our first Landscape Painter of the Year. How does it feel?

It was such a great evening! After all these years, I still don’t believe in myself enough and often don’t understand why people like what I do – so it was a huge surprise; my jaw actually dropped. I almost didn’t apply! A friend of mine sent me the link about the competition – I looked at the submission date and it was that day. I had two hours left. So I submitted my three images thinking, “I wish I’d known about this sooner so I could actually prepare something!”

When did your passion for art start?

In childhood. I remember I used to doodle in the margins of my text books – I often got told off for it! However, after my A-levels, my biology teacher approached me as he was writing a book and asked if I would do a few illustrations.

How would you describe your work to someone who’s never seen it before?

My subject matter ranges from quirky, illustrated maps to abstract landscapes, with lots of little creatures, animals and figures. I love pattern and colour. I use acrylics, ink with a dip pen and some oil pastels and collage too. I don’t try to be realistic, I like to break things down, simplify them. Most of my work has a naïve, sometimes whimsical feel. I don’t pay attention to scale or colour of the real thing. I work on paper and more recently on woodblock. I also do wall murals for children. I have done some for my kids’ schools as well.

Do you have any other favourite art moments to date?

I took part in Channel 4’s Watercolour Challenge in 2001 and my artwork was displayed at The Mall Gallery in 2002. My work has also appeared in The Artist and The Leisure painter magazines as editor’s choice picks. Recently, I have had two successful solo shows in the Corner Gallery, in Carshalton Beeches (2014 and 2016). Currently I am a member of the Tadworth Art Group.

You were born in Hungary – how did you find yourself living in Surrey?

I was born in Szeged in 1975. After finishing my A-levels in 1994, I got into teacher training college to do art and geography. I really wanted to do art and English but at that time my English wasn’t good enough so I decided on a gap year in the UK. My plan was that after a year spent in an English environment, I would try the entrance exam. I came over as an au-pair and, after four months in South Norwood, I went out to a nightclub with my au-pair friends and met my now husband, Jim. I never actually did my university course - after eight months, we got engaged! We now have two children, Harry (14) and Emma (9).

You live near Banstead. What’s the best thing about living there?

I love Nork. We’ve been here for almost 14 years now. My husband grew up here, only a street away. It is a close-knit community. It is just like where I grew up. I love it that my children can have a similar upbringing to mine, as I feel I had a really happy childhood. Banstead is great because it’s a bit cut off – the public transport is rubbish but that helps preserve its charm.

Is there anywhere else in Surrey that inspires you?

I look for pattern in a landscape. I like hills, woodland, lakes… well, anything really! I love the Surrey countryside, which is so rich with wildlife. Foxes, birds and hares often appear in my work.

Where can our readers see your work next?

In April, I am taking part in a mixed exhibition at the Corner Gallery in Carshalton Beeches. Then in May, I will exhibit with my art group in Chipstead at the Peter Aubertin Hall. I’m also taking part in Surrey Artists Open Studios for the first time in June and will be opening my new home studio with an artist friend.

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For more information and examples of Judit’s work, visit juditmatthews.artweb.com

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