|Winifred Nicholson, Tippacott, w/c, 1920, private collection|
Eighteen months ago I wrote a post about Winifred Nicholson, whose work was being shown in a small exhibition at Kettle's Yard. At the time she seemed rather a forgotten figure, a woman artist sidelined from the the all-male saga of Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood's fruitful artistic relationship with Alfred Wallis, but her grandson Jovan assured me that this was about to change.
Now I can see why he was so confident. His beautiful exhibition, 'Art and Life 1920-1931', brings together work by all four artists, along with the ceramicist William Staite Murray, allowing us to see the fascinating inter-relationships between them. I saw the show at Kettle's Yard last month, and am looking forward to seeing it again at Dulwich Picture Gallery in June.
|Ben Nicholson, Tippacott, pencil, 1920, private collection|
Winifred's family were wealthy and artistic. She and Ben had both the inclination and the opportunity to travel, and a European tour in the early 1920s alerted them to the brilliance of Picasso and other moderns.
|Winifred Nicholson, Polyanthus and Cineraria, oil, 1921, private collection|
|Ben Nicholson 1930 (Cumberland Farm), oil, Brighton & Hove Museums|
|Christopher Wood, Cumberland Landscape (Northrigg Hill), 1928, oil, Kettle's Yard|
|Winifred Nicholson, Northrigg Hill, c1926, oil, private collection|
Directness and sincerity had long interested him more than convention, and Wallis was an unconventional, self-taught painter who worked with the utmost directness. Setting aside traditional ideas of perspective, the old sailor composed pictures that didn't describe external reality but expressed the ideas in his mind. Boats, lighthouses and other motifs were arranged to create the most effective composition; maps in Jovan Nicholson's admirable exhibition catalogue show the liberties he took with the topography of St Ives.
|Alfred Wallis, St Ives Harbour... c1932-4, oil on card, private collection|
|Ben Nicholson 1929 (Fireworks), oil on board, Pier Arts Centre, Orkney|
|Ben Nicholson, 1935 (White Relief), oil on carved board, Scottish Nat Gall of Modern Art|
|Christopher Wood, The Fisherman's Farewell, 1928, oil, Tate|
Copyright for Ben Nicholson images rests with Angela Verren-Taunt/DACS, and for Winifred Nicholson with The Trustees of Winifred Nicholson.