This exhibition explores colour and its use in art, the emotional response to colours and the ways in which artists have used them.
This subject will be explored through a selection of paintings from the Beecroft Art Gallery collection and loans from other institutions, displayed alongside a contemporary sculpture piece and a sound installation.
To the casual observer, the small 1960’s modern-functionalist building on Southend’s
Victoria Avenue may not look very much like an art gallery (compared with, say, the High Victorian Neoclassical style Walker Gallery in Liverpool, or the Greek Ionic lines of
But they would be greatly mistaken because behind its unadorned façade, The Beecroft Art Gallery houses some of the Region’s greatest art gems including the beloved “River Stour” by Constable, various Dutch and Italian painters, a selection by Southend’s own artistic darling, Alan Sorrell, and various local scenes which encompass emotive and poignant renditions of the Thames during WW2 as well as some exceptional depictions of buildings and landmarks.
So I was delighted to discover that Leigh’s Sheila Appleton and her Partner in Crime (her words, not mine), Ian Smith, will be curating a joint retrospective of their work in an
exhibition at The Beecroft opening on March 8th.
I first came across Ms. Appleton’s work on a dull, low-skied day in Leigh around 18 years ago. Of course, however grey the day is, Leigh is never colourless. It is by no means drab or uninspiring. It is at no time lifeless.
Now, I am no art critic – I believe we all see painting, drawing, sculpture according to what our own personal experiences of the universe have amounted to – but for me, what I like about her work is that it injects some colour, some quirk of line and shape into scenes that still manage to maintain that “greyness” that emanates from our Estuary, its marshes, its skies.
Of course Ms. Appleton, who confesses to have been a “women’s libber “and is still a huge Disco Diva, doesn’t confine herself to seascapes. Her portfolio of several decades contains examples of our built environment, landscapes and local characters.
As a real art critic says, “she uses the world around her as the topics for her paintings,
bringing to life mundane scenes most of us ignore as we go about our busy lives”.
So I do hope you are not too busy to visit – what promises to be – an interesting and
exuberant celebration of the world of Southend.
Sheila Appleton and Ian Smith – A Retrospective. Beecroft Art Gallery from March 8th
More information at www.southendmuseums.co.uk.
08 MARCH - 02 MAY 2020
BEECROFT ART GALLERY
Sheila Appleton and Ian Smith - Retrospective
March 8th - May 2nd, 2020
Sheila Appleton is one of the best-known contemporary artists living and working in the seaside town of Leigh on Sea and this exhibition, which fittingly opens on International Women's Day, is a celebration of a much-loved artist and personality.
Featuring work from her 70-year career, including works never previously exhibited along with work held in the Beecroft collection, this exhibition will demonstrate the many mediums Sheila has worked in to depict the faces and the changing landscape of our town as well as show an artist always willing to develop new ways of working.
A new publication 'Sheila Appleton Loves' will be available for the first time during the exhibition.
Ian Smith is an artist who has been a creative presence in Leigh over many years, firstly in the Ian Smith Gallery in Leigh Broadway and more recently in the Old Leigh Studio's, a space he shares with Sheila and ceramicists Richard Baxter and Julie O’Sullivan. His work will be familiar also to the many who have taken part in the annual Leigh Art Trail where Ian’s distinct style, use of colour, and warmth are immediately appealing.
The exhibition will showcase an artist whose work, so often shown alongside that of his partner's Sheila Appleton, captures and depicts the familiar and not so familiar in a unique way.