The work of British artist, Roy Trollope, is little known in Britain in spite of his outstanding ability as a painter and draughtsman. However, his work was recently recognised by the council of the village in Spain where he lived until his death in 2008 when a Grade 7 climbing route 60 metres high was named after him on the cliff featured in his painting, ‘the Cemetery and the Mountain’ (see gallery: ‘Spanish paintings 2004-2006’). The painting hangs in the council chamber of the town hall in Sierra Engarceran, which is situated on the edge of the Maestrazco, a wild and beautiful area that straddles the Provinces of Castellon and Teruel in Eastern Spain and which, with the Spanish Pyrenees, inspired much of Roy’s paintings and collages. This tribute also acknowledged his skills as an experienced mountaineer which he had reclaimed when he walked the trails of the mountainous municipality,
From 2000 Roy had been showing work successfully in Spain, particularly with the Maika Sanchez Gallery in Valencia. Yet, apart from abstract and figurative work produced in the 1950s and 60s and constructivist artworks made in the 1970s, much of which are in British and American collections, the majority of his post 1999 Spanish work and the narrative paintings and drawings he made between 1989 and 1996 before he moved to Spain, have never been seen in Britain.
One of these paintings, ‘Falling’ (see gallery: ‘War’), won the South East Arts Painting Prize in 1996 after he was persuaded to enter it for the award, and is now in the collection of the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne. The Imperial War Museum in London and the Sussex Archeological Society in Lewes also recently acquired images from this period.
The work Roy made before moving to Spain has an iconic nature that aims to visualise a personal story about a childhood profoundly affected by the Second World War, about the challenges posed by sexuality and masculine culture, and about the prospect of old age. This body of work has a uniqueness about it because it tells stories using a visual medium which are accessible to the viewer through an intriguing and magical mix of cultural and mythological signifiers and characters.
Roy’s last home on a mountainside in Spain provided the final sanctuary which enabled him to move on into a space he had never investigated before – landscape. The images he was working on when he died, like the one on this page, in spite of being uncompleted, are a fitting end to his story and potentially a wonderful celebration of his imagination and talent.