FEATURED ARTIST: Gillian Lee, I have to admit, is my sister -in- law. I have been telling her for years that her paintings are delightful and all that she had to do was to get them exhibited and they would sell like hot cakes so I am delighted to have the chance to tell all and sundry just why I like them so much – These pictures are small, decorative and desirable, one wants to pocket them at once. They are also supremely sincere, no faking, no false pretension or art world humbug, just lovely to look at and thoroughly entertaining. If anyone thinks it is easy to paint like Gillian all I can say is try it and see; the reason you and I can’t is that they are a specific take on her own experience of art and life. Things are drawn and coloured just as she sees and feels them. That’s all – and I can tell you from the experience of looking at them over the years that they are all right, they stand up well and continue to delight.
Francis Hoyland 2009
Olivia Musgrave: Figure and Horse Bronze Ed. 1/9 h. 51cms
|John Addyman (1929-2006)
Roderic Barrett (1920-2000)
Dale Devereux Barker
Dorothy Bordass (1905-1992)
David Ord Kerr
OVERVIEW OF ‘WORKS ON PAPER’
Drawn from artists as near as Colchester, to the further reaches of mid Essex, over to Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and up to the Norfolk Coast, one is immediately aware of the diversity of our mixed shows. This is borne out on entering the exhibition where, set beside the landscape watercolours of Ronald Ronaldson (a rarity from this oil painter) are small collages, gems in abstraction, made by David Hazelwood. David lived Ipswich (1932-1994) working as a photo-lithographic artist. From a bedroom at home he made collages in the evening until, taken up by German art dealers who sold his work around the world, he very successfully pursued his career in art full time.
Over 30 different artists make their impact, however I have space to mention but a few. John Kiki’s application of acrylic now becoming so thick it is 3D as in his Head 1 and 2; also Brüer Tidman, another ‘modern’ whose large mixed media ‘Sculptor and Model’ and huge ‘Head’ outline are both of surprisingly tender reflection. Robin Warnes has submitted three pastels: two perfectly balanced still life works and ‘Little Boy Lost’ whose mysterious subject has to be pulled out of the closest of tones.
We are very pleased to welcome again Anthony Atkinson ARCA, President of the Colchester Art Society who held various headships at Colchester Institute from 1964–89. Anthony, who celebrates his eightieth birthday this year, has submitted landscape in gouache on paper.
In the exhibition are two masterful watercolours by John Addyman: ‘Tree Root Exposed’ 1973 and ‘Gwdwyn View’ 1995. Addyman (1929-2006) was tutored by John Nash and later taught with him at the Colchester School of Art. Following in the Nash tradition these watercolours are excellent examples of John Addyman’s further projection into abstracted landscape forms, including his first love, the Welsh coast.
Mirecki Władysław exhibits his atmospheric yet meticulous scenes of our own Essex landscape see ‘Boarded Up, Frinton’. Unlike the twentieth century translucent washes, Mirecki layers his paint, harking back to nineteenth century artists, such as Samuel Palmer who was known to scrub the paper surface leaving globs of pigment also to the ‘Pre-Raphaelites’ with their large and complex compositions.
The Bronze ‘Figure and Horse’ (illustrated) typically Olivia Musgrave, an East Anglian artist most often seen in London. Sensuous and at the same time, wistful, it is strong in line and volume.
It is good to see Jonathan Trowell and Charlotte Ardizzone again. Jonathan contributed to our exhibition Images of Chappel Viaduct as far back as 1991 and Charlotte Ardizzone who is exhibiting four small watercolours of Indian scenes had a Solo Show here in 1995. Usually a painter in oils, Peter Kelly, currently one of our regular exhibitors, is submitting watercolours. All three artists are members of the New English Art Club.
From the painter Roderic Barrett (1920-2000) in this exhibition, we are keeping to his exquisite early wood engravings; Ted Atkinson was a sculptor of note, who changed course to become a printmaker of distinction with his abstract etchings, latterly computer aided; abstraction again, can be seen in the prints of Ron Sims whose hard edge images never fail to intrigue; more prints, as well as her earlier collages and mixed media from Dorothy Bordass (1905-1992), whose solo show was at Chappel Galleries in 1992.
A last word; as well as his etchings, Paul Rumsey is exhibiting large charcoal drawings: Library Head’ radiating the calm of an ordered world of books rising from inside a head (his?) and very different, a grinning ‘Bodyhead’ which must be seen, not described.
Stella Rankin: Portrait of Edna c.1990
Thank you to Stella Rankin By Waj Mirecki I had been directed to Stella’s house in Kelvedon High Street by a passer-by. It must have been 1984 and I had already left London to take up the brush. I had set up my drawing board in the village when I mentioned I was looking for digs or studio space and was told of an artist who had property. I remember her white haired head craning round the door, definitely suspicious. I was, after all, not long out of Severalls, drank and smoked too much and must have given off an air of dissipation. After stating my case, her intelligence combined with compassion, quickly appraised me to be no threat and sincere. What a stroke of luck to meet someone committed to painting with an understanding of its spiritual, life sustaining importance whilst others around me were advising me to “pull up your socks” and get a proper job.
On that first day I was introduced to Stella’s husband Chris and their yapping dog, Ponti, and we talked ‘life and art’. Thus began my friendship with this vital human being. She would have been 68 at the time but her work was not that of a little old lady. She had obviously absorbed modernism at St Martin’s and Goldsmith’s making my timid attempts seem spinsterish. I was 28 and it was frankly shaming. Not that I wished to emulate her. She was easy to disagree with but it was the dialogue with a kindred spirit that mattered. Age and a formal art education but mostly a truly cultured background gave her superior knowledge and I was able to draw on this. From her I began to understand the need for exact placement and good colour pitch derived from sharp observation. These were my first painting lessons since school and were later re-iterated by artists such as Roderic Barrett who also admired Stella’s work and whom I met after joining Edna at Chappel Galleries in 1986.
But the unique gift she gave me at that time in my life when I was most vulnerable was a belief in my abilities and the determination not to be seduced by an easier life of compromise. Be a painter, what else is there? might sum up her instruction. A fortuitous chance meeting, indeed.
‘Stella RANKIN gained her diploma at Goldsmiths’ College School of Art in 1960, studying there 1959-61 and previously under Kenneth Martin at St Martin’s School of Art 1958-9. She became a member of Free Painters and Sculptors and of the West Wales Artists’ and Designers’ Group. Jackson Pollock, Naum Gabo and Malevich were at times all influences on Rankin’s work; latterly it alternated between the abstract and semi-realistic with a Surrealist touch. Group shows included LG, AIA, Royal Festival Hall, RA Summer Exhibition and abroad. Solo exhibitions included Chappel Galleries, Chappel 1989 and 1991. Lived in Essex’. “Artists in Britain since 1945” by David Buckman.
Stella Rankin: born 1915 died Sudbury, Suffolk, 29th January
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