STELLA VINE has donated a substantial collection of artworks to the Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery in Alnwick, Northumberland. This collection embodies her bold, signature style, showcased across a variety of medium. Not since her solo exhibition at the prestigious Modern Art Oxford, curated by Andrew Nairne in 2007, has such a large body of her work been displayed.
After her mother died in 2003, Stella’s work took on a frenzy, resulting in a blood dripping portrait of Princess Diana foreseeing her own death and a poignant, yet bloody, painting of the young heroin addict Rachel Whitear. Both paintings caused a media storm back in 2004. At that same time, the art collector Charles Saatchi first discovered Stella Vine and her paintings. He then introduced her to the masses, when he exhibited her work in ‘New Blood’ at County Hall, London.
“We are delighted to show this extraordinary collection of art for the first time”, says Bailiffgate Museum volunteer Sheila Starks, “the paintings are so exuberant, they seem to leap off the walls.” Stella’s artwork is not easy to categorize; it is at once childlike, edgy, and dark-yet weirdly uplifting, and surprisingly funny. When you look closely, it all fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. The exhibition includes drawings and paintings in a variety of sizes and mediums, including some new works from her latest series ‘Evangeline’.
Art critic Waldemar Januszczak, found her work had something he called ‘an emotional pull’, ‘a combination of empathy and cynicism that can be startling’, and ‘an alarming sense of personal involvement, that yanks your head in Vine’s direction.’
Despite her outsider status, collectors from around the globe support Stella’s work, including singer Florence Welch, Maia Norman of the Pearl Fashion label, and Unskilledworker, all of whom include her work in their personal collections.
Stella Vine’s work has also found homes in the permanent collections at Indiana University Art Museum, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Kent University, Goss Michael Foundation in Dallas, and Norwich Castle Museum. However it is this, the largest collection at Bailiffgate, that speaks from the artist’s heart. The Bailiffgate building was formerly the Catholic church of St Mary’s, which young Melissa, as Stella was called then, attended every Sunday till she was seven. Her mother and father got married there, and her brother, Alistair, was an altar boy. The artist’s beloved 105 year old Grandmother, Gladys, still resides nearby. Young Melissa also attended Our Ladies Convent High School for Girls. Her mother, Ellenor, was a seamstress and made all the nuns habits, in return for her free place.
Recently diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, the artist Stella Vine, has been living quietly, traveling and continues to put her unique perspective of the world today to paper.