The Donovan Room: Works on Paper by Terence Donovan

October 2, 2020

PRESS RELEASE  The Donovan Room

Following on from the success of our exhibition Terence Donovan: Strokes of the Soul earlier in the year, Lisa Norris Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of The Donovan Room.

  On permanent display in one of the gallery’s exhibition rooms, are a collection of the last remaining works on paper by the legendary photographer. It is very fitting that this private body of works on paper, has found a permanent home on the site of the gallery, 72 New Kings Road, where Terence Donovan once co-owned a kitchen and homeware shop called the Merchant Chandler.

  Although always busy with his photographic assignments and film direction, Donovan found time to explore other forms of artistic expression. While photography was both Donovan's job and passion, he was also a committed Buddhist and a black belt in judo, then during the course of the 1980s, another passion began to take hold which was his painting.

  Donovan had an art studio in Chiswick which he would visit at the weekends, often meeting up with his friend Peter Blake to ‘talk shop’. He describes the moment he started to paint: ‘There was a moment when I started to be intrigued by the random yet controlled shapes of water on stone. I began to rearrange a pool of water on the stone floor of our kitchen after an accident with fluid. The process of rearranging became fascinating and mysterious and oddly satisfying. It was a point of outstanding excitement when I first tried the process with dense black ink and paper.’ These works seem to embody his fascination with Japanese culture, and are beautifully calligraphic in monochromatic ink.

  He went on to hold a successful exhibition in London between October and November 1990 at the Albemarle Gallery. He was quoted in the Art Monthly at the time as saying ‘I used to get really annoyed with Hockney when he said that photography was a one-eyed medium, but since I’ve been doing these paintings, I think I know what he means.’

  Terence Donovan (1936–1996), was a world-renowned photographer and film director. He came into prominence in London as part of a post-war renaissance in art, design and music representing a new force in fashion and, later, advertising and portrait photography. Among his most celebrated works are formal photographs of Princess Diana, as well as music videos he directed for Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love and Simply Irresistible. At the age of 15, after studying print making at the London School of Photoengraving and Lithography, Donovan started working as an assistant to the leading fashion photographer, John French. At the age of 22, Donovan opened his own studio, and was soon working for advertising agencies and publications, including Elle, NOVA, The Sunday Times Magazine, GQ and Vogue, with which he maintained a lifelong relationship.

  In 1985 he co-wrote and provided images for a book, Fighting Judo, with Japanese judoka, Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki, as a guide to "the gentle way." Donovan was appointed a Visiting Professor at Central St Martin’s School of Art in 1996, a role of which he was very proud.


The Donovan Room is now open: Wednesday - Saturday 10-5pm. For further information, please contact:

Lisa Norris ( 07590 011149

Fiona Brenninkmeyer (