Designer Desire: Brian Hagger

Montage of Brian Hagger paintings

Brian Hagger (1935-2006) was a fine art painter of urban scenes. His sensitive paintings often depict the unfashionable, faded areas of places that he and his family lived over the years; Chelsea and Fulham, Brighton and Norwich. He painted pubs, fish & chip shops, bingo halls, cafés and newsagents. His works remind me of photographs of ‘ghost signs‘ – a glimpse into a bygone era.

Born in Bury St Edmunds, he was educated at West Suffolk County Grammar School. Brian went on to study at the Ipswich School of Art between 1952 & 1956 and, after serving his National Service in the Army, the Royal College of Art from 1958 to 1961.

At the latter, his tutors included Colin Moss, Philip ‘Pif’ Fortin, Ruskin Spear and Carel Weight. Many of his paintings demonstrate the influence of Spear and Weight.

I have always been interested in Urban landscape and seascape. This has been the subject matter of my work for most of my life. The buildings in question are painted as I see them, although this may sometimes produce architectural changes for the sake of the painting – although almost photographic in concept I try to base them on sound principle of abstract design. An important part of the paintings are the figures which are stylised and simplified to suit the painting in question.

For a time, Hagger was a studio assistant to William Scott and exhibited in the open air art shows in Piccadilly and Kings Road, Chelsea. It was during this time that his work was noticed by Oscar Lerman, the American owner of the new Bramante Gallery in Victoria.

Hagger had 4 solo shows at Bramante Galleries, London and many group shows between 1968 and 1971. It was at Bramante that his work was introduced to many important art collectors.

He exhibited at the Royal Academy during the 1960s, 70s & 80s. He also showed at the Thackeray Gallery between 1971 and 1976 where he had 5 solo exhibitions.

From 1978, he exhibited at a number of other UK galleries including the Furneaux Gallery in Wimbledon, Mill Hill Gallery in North London, Selective Eye Gallery in Jersey & Guernsey and the Phoenix Galleries in Lavenham Suffolk and Highgate. He sold in excess of 400 paintings during this era.

His wife, Anne once revealed:

We did our shopping in Fulham market. When I was working Brian would go out with his rucksack and while shopping take photographs or do drawings of the small local shops. Occasionally an old shop-front was being replaced with plastic signs, which he found irritating. If he was too long drawing a shop, the shopkeeper would come out and say: “You’re not from the council, are you?”

Hagger’s daughter, Rowena Hagger-Utting is currently working with TrentArt to hold a retrospective of his work later on in 2023.

Portrait of Brian Hagger-portrait

Additional image credits:
Bonhams | Invaluable

4 thoughts on “Designer Desire: Brian Hagger

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.