Chris Wadsworth
Percy Kelly - Looking East to the Ennerdale Fells
Writer and Art Consultant

26th July 2016



I have already written about the  large crowd at the opening of the Winifred Nicholson exhibition at Abbot Hall in Kendal a few weeks ago. Since then art lovers have flocked to see it. It continues until 15th October and the good news is that it will then travel to Crane Kalman Gallery in London from 3rd November until 10th December.

There is an outbreak of interest in Winifred at the moment.  The Kendal show follows on from  the wonderful exhibition of her work alongside Ben Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis and potter William Staite  Murray at the Dulwich Picture Gallery 2 years ago. But there is much more to come. Middlesbrough Art Gallery is mounting an exhibition of her work titled Liberation of Colour from 22nd October 2016  to 12th February next year. This will then travel to the Djanogly Gallery in Nottingham (4th March - 4th June 2017) and then to Falmouth Art Gallery (24th June - 19th September 2017) so there is a full year of opportunities to see a wide range of her work in accessible venues all over the country.

Winifred’s work is about colour pure and simple. She, like most artists, longed for a new colour - a new pigment over and above those based on the three primary colours. She was convinced that such a thing exists if only we could see it. She studied flowers which she thought were the purest form of colour.  She had been fascinated by rainbows since childhood and longed to tie down the colours she detected at the edge of the rainbow or shimmering on the edge of an ormer shell. Her neighbours at Banks near Brampton were instructed to telephone if a rainbow appeared. In later years she carried a prism around with her to make her own personal rainbows whenever she wanted one.

After her death in 1981, her son Andrew put together a wonderful book  called Unknown Colour - a collection of  her  thoughts, writings and letters as well as many illustrations of her paintings which make a good case for her theory of fugitive colours. This beautiful book has been out of print for many years. Occasionally  I have come across a copy in an antiquarian bookshop and I have snapped it up to give away to a purchaser of a Winifred painting. In addition to my own well used copy I have one  of these left. Be aware that any copy of Unknown Colour isn’t cheap but if you are interested in purchasing it please let me know. and I will give you more information.

in the meantime enjoy winifred's paintings.


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