The origins of these paintings are in studies Ian made in 1970, whilst a visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, USA.
On return to England in Summer 1971, Ian scaled up his sketches into large paintings 2m high x 5m long. The paintings are not stretched, but are hung from eyelets regularly spaced along the canvas edge. Ian also produced etchings, screen-prints and small gouache paintings.
The paintings are inspired by the environment, water, light and the epic scale of landscape. One is titled ‘Greenwell Glory’, which is the name of a well-known trout fly (Ian was a keen fly fisherman). Another is titled ‘Grassington’, after the North Yorkshire town on the River Wharfe, where Ian fished as a boy.
In 1973, Ian wrote to Jenny Stein at the Whitechapel Gallery:
“Since I saw you, I have completed another ‘rainbow’, one which has been on my mind for more than three years! It is, in a sense, a definitive one of the series and I would like you to see it, if that is at all possible. It’s the same format as the two you saw and is a black rainbow (‘Black Fell’) – a rather tragic image, I find, with connotations of ecological disaster – sounds a bit trendy and symbolic, which I hope it isn’t! “