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Musician explores his passion for art

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Another string to his bow: Charles Knights is not only an accomplished musician, but also a passionate amateur painter (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Psoriasis is a skin condition that usually only leads to scratching.

For Charles Knights it led to his first solo art exhibition at Masterworks.

“Last year, I spent nearly a month in bed,” Mr Knights said. “At one point I could barely turn over.

“When my skin started to heal and I realised I wasn’t going to die after all, (joke) I needed to do something to celebrate.”

The passionate amateur painter has exhibited in several group shows in Bermuda, but never on his own.

“When I was better, I thought, right, I am going to ring up Masterworks and find out if they have a week where there are no exhibitions,” he said. “They had an opening at the beginning of May. I went for it.”

Mr Knights is originally from Romaldkirk, County Durham, England. He came here in September 2007 to teach violin for Menuhin.

His first week here, he joined the Plein Air Bermuda outdoor painting group with artist Chris Marson.

“Everything I’ve learnt about watercolour, I learnt from Chris,” said Mr Knights. “I call him God.”

As a teenager he loved art, and even imagined himself one day designing album covers for bands like Pink Floyd and Genesis.

A trip to a graphic design studio in Birmingham dashed his artistic aspirations.

“There were people there who spent 14 hours a day designing candy papers,” said Mr Knights. “That sounded really boring. It wasn’t for me.”

So he fell back on his other passion, music.

He believes music has influenced his art, in some ways.

“I used to work in an opera house in Germany and I saw a lot of set designs,” he said. “To me a painting has to tell a story.”

Colour gives him a buzz.

“Colour is everything,” he said.

One of his favourite places to paint is St George.

“If someone said we can fly you for free to Florida, Bahamas, or wherever you like, I’d rather spend a week just puttering about St George on my scooter and painting,” he said.

That said he goes on frequent painting holidays around the world.

“When I sell a painting that money goes to fund my next painting trip,” he said. “I have painted in the Himalayas, the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic Circle in Norway, among other places.

“The hardest place I painted was probably the Peruvian Jungle. It was very damp and you had to wait forever for the paper to dry. By contrast, in the Sahara, things dry very quickly.”

Like a lot of artists he has his favourite pieces of equipment.

“I did have a favourite brush,” he said. “Last year it fell off the back of my scooter. I got home and realised I didn’t have it so I drove back and found it, but someone had driven over it.

“So I got out the old dental floss and completely restored it. Then I realised I should have lots of favourite brushes. Now I have three sets of things, so I am not dependent on one brush.”

Before coming to Bermuda, he was teaching music in a school in London.

“I had seen these adverts for the Menuhin now and again in the Times Educational Supplement,” he said.

“I always joked at my school that one day I would teach violin with Menuhin in Bermuda.

“Who wouldn’t want to teach there? One day there was this hush when I turned up in the staff room and looked in the magazine.

“They had all seen the advert and they knew I would be going. Everyone said I would be bored in Bermuda after a year and come back. I have never been bored yet.”

People are often surprised to learn he is both an artist and musician.

“Now, some people know me only as Charles Knights the artist,” he laughed. “They say, ‘what, you teach violin?’”

Charles Knights is on now at Masterworks until June 1.

For more information about Masterworks shows see www.masterworks.bm

Artist of note: Charles Knights plays violin next to his painting of Corkscrew Hill (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Debut exhibit: Menuhin teacher Charles Knights has his first solo art show at Masterworks (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Passion for painting: Charles Knights has exhibited in group shows but this is his first solo show (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)