Polly Townsend’s paintings draw on solitary journeys through many of the most remote and hostile landscapes in the world. Recent works are inspired by visits to Kashmir and Kyrgyzstan and, as well as completing artist's residencies in Death Valley and The Badlands National Park, in January 2023 she will be Artist in Residence in Antarctica. Her paintings present a view of the world beyond the familiar, of places vast in scale, apparently desolate and mostly uninhabited.



Townsend treats the land as a singular subject, a still life; disembodying the form whilst remaining faithful to original patterns, colours and light. This objectification helps probe the gap between the tender and the unnerving; the beautiful and the bleak. The use of titles and the blank space/void highlights the tensions between absence and presence, reflecting on the current state of landscape one of flux, impermanence and a challenging passage of time.



Townsend produces small works on site using a collapsible easel, sketchbooks and photography, building up larger canvases in her London studio


Polly Townsend (b.1977) completed an MFA at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, in 2001. She has exhibited widely throughout the UK and USA and has won several painting and drawing awards, including the Slade Life Drawing Prize (judged by Paula Rego), the Duveen Travel Scholarship, the Worshipful Company of Painter Stainers Award, The Sir Ben Bowen Studio Prize for Fine art, The Contemporary Art Prize for Wales Studentship award and she was shortlisted for both the Gilchrist- Fisher Landscape Painting Award and, in 2019, the Jackson Painting Prize.



Townsend has several paintings in the Permanent Collection of the Department of State USA, currently on display in Beijing, Karachi and Mumbai and has work in the National Parks Collection USA, The Alpine Club Collection UK, and the Ben Uri Collection. Polly Townsend has travelled extensively for her work and has twice been selected for the prestigious National Park Artist-in-Residence schemes (to Death Valley and Badlands National Park). She is currently Artist in Residence in Antarctica.

Polly Townsend lives and works in London.

Installation shots
Selected Works


1999-01 MFA Slade School of Fine Art, London, UK
1996-99 BA University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK (First Class Honours) 

2022 Crossing Boundaries, APT Gallery, London 2022 A Wider Landscape, The Alpine Club, London


Selected Exhibitions

2023  Hinterland, John Martin Gallery 

2022 A Generous Space 2, New Art Gallery, Walsall
The 3am Project, virtual exhibition,
The Affordable Art Fair, London
The Columbia Threadneedle Prize: Mall Galleries, London, UK 2018 Summer Salon: Angus Hughes Gallery, London, UK

2017 The ING Discerning Eye: Mall Galleries, London, UK
Glory of the Glacier: The Alpine Club, London, UK
Summer Salon: Angus Hughes Gallery, London, UK
2012 SOLO:
Slower Than This: Flashpoint Gallery, Washington DC, USA 2012 Emerge Art Fair: Washington DC, USA

2011 Wildland, Silber Gallery, Baltimore, USA
2010 SOLO:
Polly Townsend: British Embassy, Washington DC, USA
Travelogue: Carroll Square Gallery (Hemphill Gallery), Washington DC, USA 2009 Options: WPA & Conner Contemporary, Washington DC, USA
2008 SOLO:
Polly Townsend: The Alpine Club, London, UK
Gilchrist-Fisher Landscape Painting Award: Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London 2007 SOLO: Passing Through: 3 White Walls Gallery, Birmingham, UK
Bomberg’s Relevance: Ben Uri Gallery, London, UK
Journey of Exchange: Oxford House, Bethnal Green, London, 
Winter Collection: Gallery Duncan Terrace, London, UK
New Waves: Collyer Bristow Gallery, London, UK
Mirage of Minds: Century Gallery, London, UK
Mile of Art: London Fields, London, UK
The Affordable Art Fair: New York, USA
The Directors Choice: Collins and Hastie Gallery, London, UK
London/New York Drawing Collaboration: Chateau Balleroy, Normandy, France 2001 New Bloomsbury’s 2001: Scarlet Maguire Gallery, London, UK
Post-Graduate Show: Slade School of Fine Art, London, UK
2000 SOLO:
The Scapes: The Courtyard, Hereford, UK
Winter Collection: Parkview Fine Art Galleries, Bristol, UK
The Directors Cut: Parkview Fine Art Galleries, Bristol, UK
Degree Show: University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK
1999 SOLO:
Flesh: Hereford College of Art and Design, UK


Prizes, awards and scholarships

2022 Culturebox commissioned artist, University of Exeter
2019 Finalist in Jackson Art Prize UK
2008 Finalist in Gilchrist-Fisher Landscape Painting Prize, UK
2001 The Slade School of Fine Art Duveen Travel Scholarship
2001 The Princes Drawing School / Malcolm Forbes Foundation Travel Scholarship 2000 The Slade School of Fine Art Life Drawing Prize (judged by Paula Rego)

1999 The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers Award
1999 The Sir Ben Bowen Studio Prize for Fine Art
1998 The Contemporary Art Prize for Wales Studentship Award (judge Stephen Chambers)


Residencies and expeditions

2023 Artist in Residence Antarctica, Scott Polar Research Institute

2020 Solo expedition, Iceland
Artist in Residence Goldwell Museum, Death Valley National Park, Nevada, USA 2011 Artist in Residence Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA
Solo expedition Alaska, USA
Solo expedition Mojave Desert, USA
Solo expedition Himalaya and Pamir Mountains, Ladakh, Kashmir
Solo expedition Tian Shan and Pamir Mountains, Kyrgyzstan
Solo expedition High Atlas Mountains, Morocco; and Tian Shan, Altai and Qilian Shan Mountains, China

2006 Solo expedition Jotunheimen National Park, Norway
Solo expedition Pyrenees Mountains, France
Solo expedition Apennine Mountains, Italy
Solo expedition Himalaya Mountains and Tibetan Plateau, Nepal, China 2001-08 Solo expedition Snowdonia National Park, Wales
Artist in Residence, Arkleside Studios, Yorkshire
Solo expedition Andes Mountains and Altiplano, Bolivia


Reviews and Publications

2022 Art in Embassies; Beijing, Catalogue
Culture Box, Artist Spotlight: Polly Townsend
Playjunkie: Polly Townsend’s Secluded Landscapes
2020 Jackson’s Art Blog: Polly Townsend: Painting the Brutality of the Land
Washington Post, An exhibit that stretches a mountain’s range by Mark Jenkinson 2012 Washington City Paper, Polly Townsend at Flashpoint by Louis Jacobson
Mumbai Embassy Publication, Permanent Collection of the Consulate General of the United States

2011 Catalogue, Wildland, by Laura Amussen

2011 Catalogue, The Artists of the Alpine Club, by Peter Mallelieu
Washington Post, Wild Worldviews of Summer by Jessica Dawson
Washington Post, Options 09: Unexpected Possibilities by Michael O’Sullivan
2009 The Georgetowner, Georgetown Answers Call for Artists
Falls Church News, Options 09 by Kevin Mellema
Catalogue, Options 09 by Anne Goodyear
Artrabbit.com, Onwards and Upwards, Polly Townsend in High Places by Sarah Lightman

2008 The Alpine Club Journal, Polly Townsend in High Places by Steve Goodwin
The Metro Newspaper Birmingham, Sixty second interview with Polly Townsend
Wowbirmingham.co.uk, The Extremes of Art with Polly Townsend by Dave Freak
Hereford Times, Three White Walls
The Independent, Bomberg's Relevance, P Chapman
2007 Time Out, Bomberg's Relevance, JJ Charlesworth


Public collections

U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Permanent collection, Department of State, USA U.S. Embassy in Karachi, Permanent collection, Department of State, USA U.S. Embassy in Mumbai, Permanent collection, Department of State, USA National Parks Collection, USA

The Alpine Club Collection UK The Ben Uri Collection UK