Crossford-based artist Garth races to the finish

Garth Bayley with his creations
Garth Bayley with his creations

Capturing the thrill and excitement of horseracing is what Garth Bayley’s new collection is all about.

The Crossford-based artist painted 16 exclusive canvas oil paintings for Hamilton Park Racecourse – a commission which ranks as one of his largest.

Garth Bayley's paintings for Hamilton Racecourse

Garth Bayley's paintings for Hamilton Racecourse

At one metre by 80cms each, they are big, bold, bright and full of energy and movement to portray the true essence of horse racing.

And, like any good race, the artist himself had a sprint to the finish.

Garth said: “When you have three months to produce 16 paintings, it’s all you are doing from the moment you wake up.

“It takes a long time and oil paintings also take a long time to dry.

“In fact, the last two paintings went up on the wall while they were still wet!”

South African-born Garth has become known for painting in bold colours and creating images that are full of movement.

Working across a range of themes in an expressionistic style, his work covers people, buildings, landscape and sports, including dancing, cycling and horse racing.

The Hamilton Park Racecourse commission saw him painting a series of works incorporating aspects of flat racing, using creative brushstroke and vivid colours.

Influenced by the greats such as Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse, as well as modern day masters, Garth’s artwork attempts to capture the speed, energy and strength of horse racing.

He said: “As it’s flat horse racing, the paintings capture the essence of a sport which is fast and furious.

“So in some of the paintings, you see the horses coming towards you and others capture the feel of them going passed you so you see their rear ends.

“Other paintings really take in the background and the landmarks around the racecourse.

“I am very happy with the collection; it all came together really well.

“The paintings are exhibited in each of the 12 hospitality boxes, with two of the boxes holding two paintings.

“But when you see them all in a row, it’s very bold and colourful.”

The collection went on display just before the first race of the season at the beginning of May.

Because of the scale of the project, it represents one of Garth’s largest commissions since he became an artist seven years ago.

He previously worked as a chef in his native South Africa but spotted an opportunity to turn his hobby into a career.

He said: “When I first came to the UK, I exhibited at the Open Studio Exhibition in Peterborough but was only getting a handful of people coming to see my work.

“Two years on, I was getting hundreds through the door at the same exhibition.

“I was also voted one of the most influencial artists in Peterborough and surrounding areas in 2012.

“I think my African heritage and growing up in South Africa influences my work while being exposed to different art forms adds a new element.”

Garth has shown work at Scotland Artists in Bothwell, the Thistle in the west end of Glasgow and will be exhibiting at the Pitlochry Art Festival from June 9 and the Pittenweem Festival in August. He is also showing in Bury St. Edmunds and has had numerous solo and group shows in London and the Midlands.

Since moving to Lanarkshire two-and-a-half years ago, Garth has taken inspiration from his new surroundings.

He said: “I think the biggest change in my work since moving to the UK from South Africa has been the influence of the seasons.

“I find my paintings are darker and more atmospheric in the winter and vibrant in the summer.

“I love going for walks around my home –it’s the best way to get inspiration for landscapes. It’s actaully very like my village in South Africa, although the weather is very different!

“I also go for walks up the gorge and enjoy the lovely scenery around Craignethan Castle.”

Garth added: “My work was recently exhibited in Bothwell and one of my paintings of horse racing was displayed in the window –that’s where the commission from Hamilton Racecourse came from.”

Available to purchase for £1800 each, the paintings are part of an £800,000 makeover of the award-winning racecourse. The grandstand restaurant, bar and private hospitality boxes have all been upgraded for the 2017 season.