Saturday, 3 November 2012

Winifred Nicholson: unknown colour

Inspiring me to actually make it to Kettle's Yard was the current exhibition in the adjacent gallery of paintings by Winifred Nicholson. She was a close friend of the founder and the collection includes a lot of her work - too much to keep it all on permanent display. I loved a number of these paintings a lot. In truth, though, she's not the best subject for a blogpost, since online reproductions don't remotely convey the subtle fire and ice of colour in her work.  

This is from an article, distributed at the gallery, that she wrote in 1937:

" Any true colour picture gives out light like a lamp. In twilight it looks like a luminosity, in a better light the difference in the colours begins to tell, and they grow more and more distinct, markedly individual, as the light intensifies to fall back again into a luminosity, a glow if the light wanes. It is only in the clearest, most unclouded light of the sun that you can see the greatest attenuation and differences of hue. The same yellow is quite a different colour on a clear grey day than it is is on a day of Mediterranean sunshine. So, the scale of colour is held within the fullness of sunlight, which is forever breaking apart, revealling its diverse hues, contrasts and affinities and then closing again upon  this scale in the oneness of white light. "

More of her writing is here.


Dick said...

I love her work. There was an unforgettable exhibition in St Ives a few years back. Kettle's Yard is only 24 miles north of us so if we can get the kids watched, we'll make the pilgrimage.

Jean said...

Hope you can make it, Dick - the exhibition has some breathtaking work; it's small, just a couple of rooms, but personally I prefer small exhibitions and an intense experience of just a few works. And it wasn't crowded out even on a Saturday afternoon.