Evelyn Williams Intimate Whispers
Evelyn Williams was born in 1929 and trained at St Martin’s School of Art from the age of 15 and then the Royal College of Art working alongside the older, largely male students, many of them soldiers returning from service in the second world war. Despite failing health she continued painting right up to her death in 2012 at the age of 83. Her tender, intimate and emotional paintings are concerned with the subtleties and complexities of relationships and the human predicament. Her very personal paintings have followed her progress through life as child, lover, mother and grandmother. She talked of her work with self-effacement but her words provide epitaphs: “After all the attempts at movement, the pulling and pushing of forms, the agitation – here all goes still and I have a sense of relief the figure is asleep and has found rest.”
Williams proved difficult for some to categorise during her life time, but is regarded, along with friends such as Paula Rego, as having forged a path for female artists. She later founded a trust in her name which has done modest but important work to support artists, particularly women, and the practice of drawing.
In 1961 Evelyn Williams won first prize for sculpture in the John Moores competition and over the years had recognition in many public galleries including a retrospective exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1972. Her work is in numerous public and private collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; New Hall, Cambridge; the National Museum of Wales; the Contemporary Art Society for Wales; and the British Arts Council. These are powerful, haunting paintings which, fully aware that her health was declining rapidly, show the artist facing her own mortality with her customary directness and tenderness.
‘Intimate Whispers’ offers a selection of uniquely honest paintings, dealing with the intimate connection and profound solitude of existence, taking the viewer on a profound journey from womb to tomb.
“Her work deserves to be as well-known as those of her fellow 1961 John Moores prize-winners, Blake, Blow, Hockney, Kitaj, Kossoff, McWilliam and Uglow.”