Mary Fedden: Simple Pleasures at the Victoria Art Gallery
Mary Fedden: Simple Pleasures will open at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath on 9 July and run until 16 October 2022.
Fedden (1915-2012) is well known as a colourist painter who celebrated her favourite places, things and people in joyous compositions. Visitors to the show will be inspired by her delight in the simple things of life.
The exhibition explores Fedden’s life and work, from her childhood and young adulthood in Bristol, to her years as the first ever female painting tutor at the Royal College of Art, and the decades she shared with her husband and fellow artist Julian Trevelyan at Durham Wharf on the River Thames at Chiswick.
Councillor Kevin Guy, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “This must-see exhibition will bring together colourful artworks produced by Mary Fedden over seven decades, giving visitors a wonderful insight into the artist’s life and work. If you’re a resident of Bath & North East Somerset, don’t forget you can enjoy free admission to exhibitions at the Victoria Art Gallery.”
More than 110 paintings and works on paper will be featured, covering all periods of Fedden’s career, from 1936 to 2006. These are drawn from collections across the UK, including the Royal Academy, Tate, Government Art Collection, Royal West of England Academy, Bath University and numerous private collections.
The exhibition will shed new light on Fedden’s working practices by including her easel, palette and some of her favourite still life objects – the simple things, such as flowers and foodstuffs, that inspired her. It will also explore the development of her sensibility for bright colours, via her own notes on her working practice and a well-illustrated 56-page catalogue.
Fedden’s approach comes across in her own testimony: “The world today is filled with ready-made entertainment, ugly mass-produced objects made with little love or care, canned music and huge hideous advertisements. It is a world where musicians, artists and poets have a struggle to survive at all, and yet artists are more and more needed in this uncreative world … Almost every day, I find some lovely thing to set me going, which I can translate into patterns and colours.”
Having spent her early years in Bristol, Fedden extended her connections with the area by serving as President of the Royal West of England Academy and, in 1996, receiving an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bath in recognition of her contribution to British art. Several of the exhibits include Bath buildings and references. A portrait of Fedden in bronze by Sylvia Manasseh is also featured.
There will be guided tours of the exhibition on Fridays at 1.30pm-2pm throughout the show. These are included in the ticket price (free for Bath and North East Somerset residents*). Advance booking not required for the tours.
The exhibition was co-curated by Pat Jordan-Evans, Founder and Director of Bohun Gallery.