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William's Corner

This is my corner, where you'll find my latest news, inspirations and musings. I send out a newsletter every few months before posting it here.

In my second newsletter I talk about a recent visit to The Courtauld to see a fascinating Frank Auerbach exhibition, an inspiring trip to Dorset and getting shortlisted for the RA Summer Exhibition.

All Things Arty

Frank Auerbach - Charcoal Portraits


A few weeks ago I visited a striking Frank Auerbach exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery, London. I have a confession to make: I had never visited The Courtauld before. It’s a fabulous space in Somerset House comprising collections of art from the 11th century right up to present day. Highlights for me included an Ivon Hitchens (one of my all-time favourite artists) and an atypical yet charming Georges Seurat


I was mainly there to see the Frank Auerbach Charcoal Portraits exhibition. Focusing on Auerbach's earlier work the exhibition was fascinating, moving and unsettling.


Auerbach’s unconventional approach to charcoal meant that he would spend months on a single piece with multiple sittings, applying and removing charcoal, sometimes so heavily that the paper had to be patched up. The result is something that hauntingly captures the essence of the subject allowing the viewer to almost stare into their soul. I’m not sure if I’d have one on my wall, but they left a lasting impression on me, resonating strongly with my belief that art can transcend beauty.

Frank Auerbach charcoal portrait
Frank Auerbach, Head of Gerda Boehm, 1961, Charcoal and chalk on paper


Foodie Musings


If you missed my last newsletter, this is a new section dedicated to some of my other passions. My favourite pubs, restaurants and places often conjure up similar feelings that I try to evoke through my paintings.


So here's my second foodie musing...

Noble Rot, Lamb’s Conduit Street, London

Noble Rot on Lamb’s Conduit Street ticks lots of boxes. Its name coined from another word for botrytis, a grape fungus necessary for producing Sauternes (amongst others), this is the place to go if you’re into your wine.

Noble Rot wines
Inside Noble Rot, Lamb's Conduit Street

The front room is a wine bar and the back a candlelit restaurant. You could take your parents there or your lover. The fantastic value set lunch menu changes regularly but it’s always tempting to go for the à la carte as a treat. A previous “Wine List of the Year” winner, there is a mixture of traditional, unusual and hidden gems on offer; if you’re a foodie like me there is always something exciting to pair with every dish. It was here that I had my first experience of orange wine (made from white grapes in a red wine style) which was paired with slip sole in smoked butter - simple yet mind-blowing!


Inspiration Update

Last month I visited one of my favourite parts of the UK, the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. For 27 years of my life I visited Studland Bay with my family on our summer holidays and over the years cemented special friendships and a deep-rooted connection with the area. 


Along with a couple of pals, this time my girlfriend and I stayed in a charming little cottage in Corfe Castle, famous for its spectacular ruined Norman castle. 

It just so happens that one of my all-time favourite pubs was nearby: the Square and Compass in Worth Matravers.

After a circular walk down to the wave-battered coast, you can then soak up the view amongst giant Jurassic fossils-turned-seating outside. The low-ceilinged pub, dimly lit and laden with paraphernalia, serves from a hatch homemade pasties and sausage rolls that you can wash down with a local ale or cider. There’s even a tiny one-room museum filled with local artefacts attached. What more could you ask for?


From the weather and the scenery to the memories that came flooding back to me, it was an inspiring trip. The sketches will feed into my paintings but translating those feelings and memories of being in a place I hold dear into artwork is what inspires me most.

Recent Work

After over 10 years of applying, I was thrilled to have one of my paintings shortlisted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. It's currently at the framers so that I can take it to be judged in the final round in May. Even if I don't get selected for the exhibition, being shortlisted is a goal I've had for a long time so I'm really excited.

If you'd like to be the first to read my newsletters, make sure you sign up below. You'll also be the first to see my latest prints, previews of new work and invitations to exhibition openings.

In this post I write about an inspirational talk by artist Dame Rachel Whiteread; one of my favourite restaurants, Kiln; and the ideas of renewal and rebirth that are inspiring my latest abstract paintings.

Abstract acrylic painting by William Watson-West
Abstract Acrylic on board, by William Watson-West

All Things Arty

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a talk by artist, Dame Rachel Whiteread. Interviewed by Tim Marlow OBE, head of The Design Museum, it was incredibly inspiring.

For those of you that didn't know, Rachel Whiteread was the first woman to be awarded the Turner Prize in 1993.

I can't claim to have known a huge amount about her or her work prior to the talk, but I left feeling invigorated and wanting to learn more.

Particularly known for her cast sculptures of inanimate and seemingly mundane objects, her work is full of emotion and memory and carries deeper stories than what often first appears as minimalist-looking.

I was particularly drawn to the story behind House, (1993) which led to Whiteread's Turner Prize. The entirety of the inside of a terraced house in East London due to be demolished was cast in concrete and then the exterior of the house removed leaving only the concrete visible.

The installation was incredibly controversial and only lasted 80 days before it was also demolished leaving just the concrete footings. It sparked debates and conversations on numerous issues of the day but hearing from the artist about the project I particularly related to the ideas of the importance of a home, lives lived and lost and the imprints that humans leave behind and our relationship with the mundane.

Referencing a previous piece, Jonathan Jones described Ghost, 1990, in the Guardian as "the solid trace of all the air that a room once contained" and how “We wonder at the dark invisible silence within. Vanished lives, lost voices, forgotten loves are trapped in that fossilised room like prehistoric creatures in limestone.” For me, this sums up Whietread's work beautifully.

If you're interested in learning more, check out this article from the Tate.

Rachel Whiteread Untitled House
Rachel Whiteread, House, 1993


Foodie Musings

You may already know that I'm a bit of a foodie (and winey if that's a word?!), so I thought I'd start including some of my favourite restaurants, drinks, pubs and other foodie musings in my newsletters. Being a creative person, it probably makes sense that food & drink experiences conjure up all sorts of emotions that sometimes resonate with the feelings I get whilst painting.


To kick things off I thought I'd mention a firm favourite London restaurant...

Kiln, Soho

You can book tables downstairs in the dining room but I recommend getting there early and queuing for a spot at the bar/open kitchen. It's a loud, dark and buzzing place. The clue is in the name - Kiln - as you feel the heat from the fierce open fires the chefs are cooking on right in front of you as you sip on something funky. Prepare for some pretty fiery flavours too (they don't hold back on the chilli!).

Kiln Soho Kitchen Bar
Kiln, Soho - view from the bar

Kiln produces Norther Thai inspired food as well as influences from other nearby countries. They use seasonal British ingredients where possible producing seemingly simple dishes with flavours I've not experienced anywhere else. The predominantly natural wines are designed to go with the food and there are plenty of unusual and delicious cocktails and non-alcoholic options to choose from too such as bergamot and lime soda.

Go for the Clay Pot Noodles if you're after a signature dish, or a favourite of mine - the Grilled Rump Cap with Ubon relish (if you can stand the heat!).

Kiln Soho Cull Yaw Chop
Cull Yaw Chop

Abstract acrylic painting inspired by spring and renewal
William Watson-West, abstract acrylic, 2024

Inspiration Update

A time for renewal and rebirth in my abstract paintings

As we move from winter to spring, the earliest signs of life are appearing after hibernation. Although the recent storms have temporarily felt like a relapse, the previous crisp blue skies, pure light and hints of green shoots have offered a relief from the short dark days of winter. The sharpness of the icy cold makes me feel alive and the welcome warmth of sunlight on my skin offers a glimpse of warmer days and excitement for what is to come.

In a world of uncertainty and suffering, this can be a time of renewal and rebirth; spring gives us a chance to cleanse and perhaps heal from the harshness of winter. Translating these feelings into my paintings has been a cathartic experience for me. I have challenged myself to continue to develop in new directions; spring gives us a space for change and inspires the positive potential in my new abstract paintings as I also take stock of the challenges that myself and others face and use this as energy to reinvigorate and move forward.

Spring is also the chance to express and renew our love for the important people in our lives. As with the beauty of new life, I try to evoke a sense of that in these new paintings and create something that is joyful and uplifting.


Recent Work

I love sending something physical to people in a world that is dominated so much by the digital. If you'd like some fresh new greetings cards you're in luck as I've just launched my latest batch of designs.


As usual, they're all based on my original paintings and there's a mixture of abstract and more representational versions - hopefully something for everyone.


(You can see my whole collection including previous designs here.)

If you'd like to be the first to read my newsletters, make sure you sign up below. You'll also be the first to see my latest prints, previews of new work and invitations to exhibition openings.

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