July News

The Collector Profile #1: Roy and Janet Balcomb

Collector profile: Roy Balcomb

In the first of an occasional series of interviews with collectors of my work, I met up with Roy Balcomb who lives in Kingston upon Thames with his wife Janet. Roy and Janet have the biggest collection of my work: 17 paintings in total!


When did you buy your first painting of mine, Roy?

After seeing your portrait of your father at the Imperial Tobacco Portraits Awards at the National Portrait Gallery in 1984, I commissioned you to paint a portrait of Janet. Shortly after, I bought your Slade School of Fine Art graduates exhibition piece, Tobias and the Angel, dated 1980. It was acclaimed by the Principal, Sir Lawrence Gowing, and is an astounding work of pointillism.


I’ve painted several commissions for you, Roy. Do you have any favourites?

In 1994, you painted a portrait of myself and, along with the one of Janet that you painted 10 years earlier, both portraits exhibit your fine attention to detail – not made easy by our apparel!

You also painted a very fine portrait in 2002 of my aunt Nancy Balcomb, based on a black-and-white photograph taken in 1943 in Cairo where she was serving as a Lieutenant Sister in the East African Military Nursing Service. Nancy left me a small sum of money, which I invested totally in this portrait.


You’ve collected examples of most of my styles, Roy. Do you want to choose two or three and say what you like about them?

There’s an early one of yours called Shadow of a Man on an Abstract Painting Leaning Against a Tree, which you painted in 1984. It exemplifies your incredible attention to detail, Michael. The trees, in particular, are very finely painted. Almost photorealistic, in fact. They must have taken many hours!


I like this one very much, not only because of the customary fine details of the bricks and the hedge but also for the flight of imagination in the composition. Titled Kissing the Inhibited Girl, the surrealist influence is very clear to see. It’s dated 1990 and I bought it at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, London.

And last but not least, The Blue Room, one of your more recent paintings, which I bought at your show in Putney Library last year. You can imagine any number of stories going on in this scene! The woman’s expression is really wistful and the details in her dress are exquisite. Not only that, I think it’s your biggest picture in our collection, Michael. There’s not much space left on our walls for anymore!