I was born in 1936 the second son of Lionel and Olga Wigram. He was a highly successful lawyer and businessman sadly killed in the Second World War aged thirty six while leading a group of Italian partisans he had recruited. She was a reluctant but briefly successful actress. She never married again. She took up painting in middle age and had a real talent for colours and portraiture. As a family we always valued art. She loved painting flowers and was very good at it.
I was privately educated and after two years national service as a second Lieutenant in the Army I was fortunate enough to get into Oxford to read English Literature. I qualified as a chartered surveyor in the early sixties and after a few years set up my own investment company and was extremely lucky with my timing and able to build up my investments over a period of rising values. In 1965 I married Sally Dupree and I am delighted to say we are still together and have three children and eight grandchildren. I was a Westminster City Councillor for a number of years and a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate at Pontefract in 1966. I was the founder and chair of a campaign in the Conservative Party to introduce proportional representation and I was also the founder and chair of a charity which provided computers and computer training to disabled people.
I took up painting in my early forties. I started with small oil paintings of a holiday house and swimming pool in Italy and so much enjoyed myself that it very soon became a major hobby. I set up a studio in a lovely old barn which we had near our cottage and for several years worked there most weekends and on holidays. I did seascapes and landscapes and a few portraits. Eventually I enrolled as a day student at the Heatherley art school in Chelsea and I am extremely grateful for what I learned and the confidence I gained as a result.
I started getting more and more interested in abstract art. I was particularly fascinated by the work of Peit Mondrian and the American expressionist headed by Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Later I was very influenced by the work Brice Marden. These painters seem to me to have a mystical harmony in their work in which there is some quality in the beauty of their shapes and colours which is evangelical positive and life enhancing. This force flows directly to the viewer without being filtered through another subject which needs to be reinterpreted. I think there is a clear similarity to the emotional power of music which like abstract art has no subject.
For me the call to take up abstract painting was and remains irresistible. The satisfaction gained from finishing a painting and creating something entirely new is intoxicating. You are treading where no man or women has trod. But abstract art is often derided as rubbish. Many viewers may just see some paint splashed on to a canvas and think “Anyone could do that” without appreciating that the painting is one of a sequence in the career of an artist who wants to convey tension and emotion and a message through the juxtaposition of shapes space and colours.