Patrick Julian Fisher, nicknamed “Paddy” by his friends and family, was born in Parkeston, Harwich, where he lived all his life. After secondary education at Harwich High School, Fisher attended Colchester School of Art at a time when it was in the town centre, between 1948 and 1953. There, he was an exact contemporary of Charles Debenham (q.v.) who remained a close friend. While at Art School, Fisher gained a scholarship to undertake a year’s study in Segovia, Spain. On his return to Art School after his Spanish visit his palette became markedly brighter. Another legacy of Spain was his interest in wine. Together with his associate Leonard Rose they planted about two acres of vineyard at Great Oakley, Essex. This venture was however short lived as it was well before today’s demand for English wine. Also when he came back from Spain he worked for a company in Harwich designing labels for food products and contributed a series of pen and ink sketches to the Harwich and Dovercourt Standard. He also taught in the evenings during that period. He rarely exhibited, except at the annual Colchester Art Society exhibitions and only sold to people he knew.
Fisher is now recognised as one of the most important Harwich painters specialising in the seascapes and landscapes of the area. His paintings which record the changes of the Harwich scene over a period of 25 years prompted the observation that he was “to Harwich what Constable was to Flatford and Dedham.”(1) In the latter years of his life Fisher painted in the evening, having looked after his sick mother all day. The works from that period were mostly painted under artificial light.
His paintings can be found in private collections in the United States (2) and the UK, mainly in the care of Patrick Fisher’s nephew, Peter Hall, who inherited his estate.
Although Fisher’s early works were abstract or semi-abstract, his later paintings, as seen here, have a fresh Impressionist, almost Pointillist style. His night and evening paintings such as Night Fishers and Felixstowe from Dovercourt (see link to the Harwich website below)are especially interesting through their atmospheric nature based on harmony of colours. These could have been inspired by paintings such as Old Chelsea Bridge, London by Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), whose son, Lucien Pissarro, married the daughter of Dr Ruth who sold the Minories to the Victor Batte-Lay Trust, now a Foundation.Whatever the influence on the artist, all of his paintings demonstrate a love for the area where he lived all his life.
As to the subject of the painting, it represents the marine parade of the ancient seaside town of Dovercourt, in Essex, which faces the North Sea and is contiguous to the port of Harwich. It shows the parade before it was redeveloped in the 1970s. It is a view of the Promenade looking West to East with the War Department or WD in the far distance.
In the 19th century holiday makers flocked there by rail and sea, at weekends, from London and Ipswich. This enthusiasm brought developments to the town mainly due to the initiatives of John Bagshaw, a former East India merchant who planned to build a new town at Lower Dovercourt, including a promenade, in the mid-1850s. The panoramic seafront promenade, which runs between Dovercourt and Harwich, still provides harbour vistas and convenient walking routes, linking the two resort towns.
Retrospective Exhibitions organised by Peter Hall
1989 (July) Rendezvous Wine Bar, Harwich
1993 Dovercourt Library, Dovercourt
1998 The Swan Gallery, Harwich
Also The Minories, Colchester, 1977, solo exhibition
RUSHTON, Raymond, It is the public which missed out, The Harwich and Dovercourt Standard, Friday, July 7, 1989
RUSHTON, Raymond, Tremendous talents are revealed, The East Anglian Daily Times, July 10, 1989
(1) The East Anglian Daily Times – see bibliography
(2) Numerous paintings were bought by a British collector, from Harwich, who moved to the United States.