Following his degree in Fine Art and Illustration at Bristol, Ross Ashmore spent the next two years illustrating for publications such as the Radio Times. He then went into commercial art, working as a graphic designer for the next twenty years; much to the disapproval of his father; the playwright and art critic, Basil Ashmore.
Ross says he has no regrets choosing this career path. “The mass produced commercial world is so concerned with perfection – ‘everything was airbrushed out!’ In contrast I began to appreciate being different, embracing individuality – freedom of expression. This view is what drives and inspires me today. It’s the ordinary things in life, the mundane that I want to catalogue in my work. With all the relentless change, very soon, we may forget the way things were.”
“I began to realise that art was a powerful form of expression. That an artist should be honest, passionate and have conviction about his work – much at odds with the commercial world I had come from and today’s obsession with the unreal. I didn’t want to be chocolate box. The gesture of painting, the process, is just as important to me as the image. Every painting is an action – making the mark in paint creates energy and conveys emotion – it creates the mood – it begins to take on a life of it’s own. I love the physicality of painting. Many artists today are so obsessed with perfection and technique they don’t look like paintings at all.”
Today Ross has embarked on an ambitious task of painting all the London Transport Underground Stations- of which there are over 300. “I realise for me this has to do with my commercial past.
I was always under pressure to deliver on time, except this time I had created my own brief and deadline.” He has now completed all Zone 1 (64) and is nearly halfway through Zone 2 (100).
“I love the Underground. I love the concept of going below ground and resurfacing somewhere else. A Doctor Who episode also did it for me as a youngster – the ‘Yetties’ in the Underground!
Because society is changing so fast I want to document the Underground Stations in paint – even now, just in a year, some of the stations have undergone changes already.”
Ross is hoping to keep the collection together until it is completed. One day he hopes for them all to be displayed as a whole, revealing the diversity and the uniqueness of life in the Underground.
Ross lives in Rickmansworth and has a studio in the High Street.