Sheila Girling is a respected artist in her own right, and despite motherhood, marriage and a life long working relationship contributing in a good part to her husband’s modus operandi, she succeeded in later years in finding her own freedom and individual direction that was truly her style and identity. This talk will track her developments from Girling the water colour landscape painter, and her early student days at the Royal Academy of Arts Schools, London. It was there that she met her husband to be, Anthony Caro, (later Sir Anthony Caro), when he took, misguidedly, her drawing board and then made outrageous remarks to her about art.
Their eventual move to Frognal, Hampstead, via Much Hadham and Henry Moore’s studio elicited many friends in the Hampstead hinterlands, including Eduardo Paolozzi and Dorothy Morland, amongst the many. And whilst this remained their home for the rest of their lives, and Tony’s studio for the early part, many American artists such as Ken Noland, Helen Frankenthaler, Jules Olitski, and the American critic, Clement Greenberg for example, remained close friends for much of their lives. This followed Tony’s conversion, at the end of the 1950’s on seeing David Smith’s sculptures in the USA. This talk will look at Sheila’s transformative journey in the search and analysis she diligently undertook towards a definitive self-style and statement. This can be seen expounded in paintings such as, The Maharajahs, 1993, where her use of collage and acrylic onto canvas has a masterful sweep of large sized rhythms. These arc-like, flow across the full horizontal field, giving a triumphant sense of grandeur, space refound, and freedom of spirit. A truly uplifting experience! Or, her last suite of smaller sized collaged and constructed abstractions using hand made paper with acrylic, such as ‘Measure of the Day’, 2015, 76 x 52cm, where the use of space, colour, focus and composition are a sheer joy.
C. Barry Martin 2018
Barry Martin is a practising artist and a lecturer with work in many public and private collections including: The Tate Gallery; The Victoria and Albert Museum; The Government Art Collection; The British Council; Heritage England; The Henry Moore Institute; The Museum of Modern Art, Paris; University of London Goldsmiths’ College; National Trust; and more.
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