The Fitzrovia Chapel’s autumn exhibition offers a glimpse into the life and work of Nina Hamnett. An opportunity to discover more about an often-overlooked artist, we offer a chance to spend time with the work of a figure who is central to the creative and cultural legacy of Fitzrovia. Through her career as an artist, her role as a sitter and association with better known artists (and the social circles which connect these two worlds), Nina wove a bold path through a vital period of the art scene in the twentieth century.
Launched into the art world on little more than a stipend of two shillings and sixpence a week from her aunts, Nina’s charisma and avant-garde style created connections with many great artists of her time in both London and Paris. Mentioned in her writings are Augustus John, Modigliani, Walter Sickert, Roger Fry, Dylan Thomas, Aleister Crowley, Picasso, Lytton Strachey and members of the the Omega Workshop. Despite creating a large body of work, and being painted by the greats, Nina’s legacy dwindled in comparison to the notoriety of the Bloomsbury Group. Towards the end of her life, her circumstances declined as did her health, and she died in poverty after falling from her bedsit window.
Reflecting on a vibrant, difficult and fiercely individual life, we share an intimate selection of her sketches, as well as a flourish of her versatility and style in the form of an illustrative watercolour. The show explores a fascinating life too often characterised wholly by the work of other artists, and a talent acknowledged too late.
Influenced by her own writings, and Fitzrovian myth and legend, this is a simple exhibition of the work of a complex woman.
With thanks to Tenby Museum & Art Gallery for loaning us the pieces in the exhibition. Photo credit © Michael Parkin/National Portrait Gallery, London.