Jude Wilde sketching
Jude Wilde sketching

Although I’ve lived in London since the mid 1970’s I still have a deep rooted connection with nature, which comes from my upbringing on a fruit farm in rural Kent. I grew up in the type of household that was immersed in craft making of various kinds. Dressmaking, rug making, millinery, lamp shades, basket making and much more. It came from necessity, but was hugely enjoyable.

I was obsessed with drawing and painting from an early age and was lucky to have parents who encouraged it. I left school at 16 and went to art college part time while working as a window dresser in Canterbury. Another obsession was with the theatre. I loved acting at school and when I discovered it was possible to study stage design at art college I jumped at the chance.

After 3 years of study I left Birmingham College of Art with the equivalent of a BA in Stage Design. I spent 16 years working as a stage designer in various repertory theatres and theatre in education companies including The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Leeds Playhouse, Dukes Playhouse Lancaster and The Curtain Theatre in the east end of London.

By the early 1990’s funding for such theatres was dwindling and work was hard to find, so I set up my own clothing label ‘Wild Designs’ and started designing and manufacturing a line of club wear. London had a vibrant club scene at this time. Clubs like Kinki Gerlinki, Skin Two and Torture Garden attracted revellers of all sexualities including many cross dressers. With my theatrical costume designing skills it was an easy transition to making flamboyant outfits popular with the cross dressers and there were lots of them in London!

After around 8 years, I found that I was employing 12 people and my focus was on the business and paying wages and I had little time for creating. After another 4 years I decided to wind the business up and have another career change. Using the management skills that I’d acquired running my own business, I applied for work in the voluntary sector and was employed as Head of Facilities at St Mungo’s for 5 years.

While at St Mungo’s I studied part time at Birkbeck, University of London and gained a Post Graduate Certificate in History of Art and Architecture and also did a short Drawing and Painting course at The Slade School of Fine Art. The Slade short courses are intense, but really well organised with a high standard of teaching and facilities.

Now, when I’m not organising the lecture programme for Richmond Art Society, I paint and draw as much as possible. My first love is painting, but I really enjoy experimenting and trying different techniques. I find working with a mix of media particularly exciting as I can combine all of the elements that I enjoy into one artwork – painting, photography and photo manipulation. Recently I’ve been enjoying experimenting with much more abstract work.

As well as exhibiting with RAS for around 10 years, I’ve exhibited at Orlean’s House Gallery, The Fountain Gallery, The Landmark Centre Teddington, The Riverside Gallery, The Stables Gallery, The Lightbox Woking, The Menier Gallery, 54 The Gallery Mayfair, The Fitzrovia Gallery, Safehouse 2 Peckham and The Affordable Art Fair Battersea.


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