Peter Pilgrim graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1970 and was awarded a silver medal for work of special distinction together with a research fellowship.
Following his time at the RCA he became fascinated by the way colour interacts with the repeating patterns of modular forms. His paintings and textiles emerge from a particular aesthetic of colour and form working with the juxtaposition of colours, to create a resonant tension which is reinforced by the rhythmic power of the multiple image.
He explores the relationship between the use of interactive colour and tone to uncover how placement of colour and the scale of geometric forms can influence rhythm and movement, as well as visual illusion. His ideas are based on modular geometric imagery which are forced through mathematical shifts (progressions) to form subtle movements and rhythms in the overall compositions. This has its foundations in the Op Art movement of the 1960s, at which time Pilgrim produced a series of black and white ink drawings, prints on paper and textile works. As some of the titles of the paintings and prints from the last decade suggest, the modular progressions are also inspired by the music of contemporary jazz artists. The rhythms, structure, colour and improvisations of modern jazz are constant influences on Pilgrim’s work alongside such artists as Mark Rothko, Bridget Riley, Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt and Josef Albers.
Pilgrim translates some of his paintings into prints and textiles. They are produced through the digital manipulation of the painted image. Standing as works in their own right, they are designed to directly interact with the paintings from which they originate, combined to form installations which further exploit the potential that scale changes have in the exploration of movement and the interaction of colour. He believes that the combination of the two disciplines and the visual interactions produces innovative work that transcends the traditional boundaries of fine art and design in a truly interdisciplinary way.
He has worked in this way since his RCA days and continues to do so with recognition, having received major commissions over the years from noted international companies. One of his most recent pieces ‘Steps Ahead’ originating from a painting of the same name, was commissioned as a textile installation in the Boardroom at Ravensbourne, (formerly Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication) London. This completed a long and distinguished career as a committed academic in art and design. He was until recently the Head of the Design Faculty at Ravensbourne, and prior to that was Head of Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton) and Director of Research.
In 1992, during his tenure at Winchester, he was awarded a personal professorship for his exemplary professional practice and for his academic leadership. He has also held senior academic posts at Central St Martin’s and Chelsea School of Art. He was recently a visiting professor at the University of Central Lancashire and continues to act as an external examiner and advisor for higher education in Art and Design. He was awarded an Emeritus Professorship by Ravensbourne in 2012 in recognition of his contribution to higher education in Art and Design.
Most of his time is now devoted to his practice in his studios in London and the south of France.
In a recent newsletter, Whitchurch Silk Mill announced The Pilgrim Stripe, a Bicentennial Silk, designed by Peter Pilgrim, a Patron of the Mill.
The silk has now been hand knotted on and is ready to weave. It will be available in February 2015 from the Mill’s shop as scarves and ties. The Mill will be hosting an exhibition of Peter’s work in their new exhibition gallery in 2015.
Peter’s work is featured in Print: Fashion, Interiors, Art by Simon Clarke, published by Laurence King. Artists and designers featured in the book include Issey Miyake, Husain Chalayan, Vivienne Westwood, Dries Van Noten and others.