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Winifred Nicholson in Cumberland Jovan Nicholson

Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal 8 July - 15 October 2016 A selection of works from the exhibition will be shown at: Crane Kalman Gallery, London 3 November - 10 December 2016

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Foreword The theme of this exhibition emerged very early in our discussions with Jovan Nicholson, curator of the show, and it felt right from the beginning to select from the works that Winifred Nicholson painted in Cumberland. Only two are of places outside the old county. As Jovan Nicholson explores in his beautifully written and insightful essay, Winifred Nicholson was born in Cumberland and lived here for over 70 years. Jovan Nicholson tells us at that ‘Winifred Nicholson’s painting is essentially about colour’. He goes on to explore how the colours of the Cumbrian landscape and the wild and garden flowers that grow within it, the stone circles and farm buildings in the landscape and the sea around the coast were all important to her. This publication is both a catalogue of the exhibition and a major new contribution to understanding Winifred Nicholson’s relationship with Cumberland. Many of the works in the exhibition were painted at her home Bankshead, bought in 1923, and her parents’ house Boothby. The show is broadly divided into three sections: Bankshead in the 1920s and 1930s, Boothby and the Lake District post war, and Bankshead again for the last two decades of her life. Winifred Nicholson in Cumberland is the first major show of Nicholson’s paintings at Abbot Hall Art Gallery since the exhibition A Tribute to Winifred Nicholson which opened in November 1982 following her death in March 1981. There were 60 works in that show, including the five paintings acquired for the collection at Abbot Hall, much larger than the Gallery’s previous Nicholson exhibition in 1969. It has been a real privilege and a pleasure to work with Jovan Nicholson and we would like to thank him for curating the show and writing the catalogue. We thank the Trustees of Winifred Nicholson for their support and assistance. We are delighted to build on Abbot Hall’s long history of showing works that have never or have rarely been seen in public. Thank you to the many private owners who so generously agreed to lend paintings to the exhibition and to Crane Kalman Gallery for their support and assistance in securing loans. We thank the Arts Council Collection, The Dartington Hall Trust, Richard Green Gallery, Laing Art Gallery, Middlebrough Institute of Modern Art, Museums Sheffield, Peter Scott Gallery Lancaster University and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle for lending to and supporting the exhibition. We thank colleagues at Lakeland Arts, particularly Jeanette Edgar who has designed the catalogue, Nick Rogers, ∆56 urator, Shaun Clarke. Museum & Gallery Technician, and Becca Weir who assisted with the arrangements for the exhibition.

Gordon Watson Chief Executive

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Helen Watson Director Exhibitions & Collections

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Foreword The theme of this exhibition emerged very early in our discussions with Jovan Nicholson, curator of the show, and it felt right from the beginning to select from the works that Winifred Nicholson painted in Cumberland. Only two are of places outside the old county. As Jovan Nicholson explores in his beautifully written and insightful essay, Winifred Nicholson was born in Cumberland and lived here for over 70 years. Jovan Nicholson tells us at that ‘Winifred Nicholson’s painting is essentially about colour’. He goes on to explore how the colours of the Cumbrian landscape and the wild and garden flowers that grow within it, the stone circles and farm buildings in the landscape and the sea around the coast were all important to her. This publication is both a catalogue of the exhibition and a major new contribution to understanding Winifred Nicholson’s relationship with Cumberland. Many of the works in the exhibition were painted at her home Bankshead, bought in 1923, and her parents’ house Boothby. The show is broadly divided into three sections: Bankshead in the 1920s and 1930s, Boothby and the Lake District post war, and Bankshead again for the last two decades of her life. Winifred Nicholson in Cumberland is the first major show of Nicholson’s paintings at Abbot Hall Art Gallery since the exhibition A Tribute to Winifred Nicholson which opened in November 1982 following her death in March 1981. There were 60 works in that show, including the five paintings acquired for the collection at Abbot Hall, much larger than the Gallery’s previous Nicholson exhibition in 1969. It has been a real privilege and a pleasure to work with Jovan Nicholson and we would like to thank him for curating the show and writing the catalogue. We thank the Trustees of Winifred Nicholson for their support and assistance. We are delighted to build on Abbot Hall’s long history of showing works that have never or have rarely been seen in public. Thank you to the many private owners who so generously agreed to lend paintings to the exhibition and to Crane Kalman Gallery for their support and assistance in securing loans. We thank the Arts Council Collection, The Dartington Hall Trust, Richard Green Gallery, Laing Art Gallery, Middlebrough Institute of Modern Art, Museums Sheffield, Peter Scott Gallery Lancaster University and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle for lending to and supporting the exhibition. We thank colleagues at Lakeland Arts, particularly Jeanette Edgar who has designed the catalogue, Nick Rogers, ∆56 urator, Shaun Clarke. Museum & Gallery Technician, and Becca Weir who assisted with the arrangements for the exhibition.

Gordon Watson Chief Executive

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Helen Watson Director Exhibitions & Collections

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Winifred Nicholson in Cumberland Jovan Nicholson

I have always lived in Cumberland – the call of the curlew is my call, the tremble of the harebell is my tremble in life, the blue mist of lonely fells is my mystery, and the silver gleam when the sun does come out is my pathway.1 Winifred Nicholson

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Winifred Nicholson in Cumberland Jovan Nicholson

I have always lived in Cumberland – the call of the curlew is my call, the tremble of the harebell is my tremble in life, the blue mist of lonely fells is my mystery, and the silver gleam when the sun does come out is my pathway.1 Winifred Nicholson

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and which with their standards reach over three metres tall, symbolised the ascendancy of the Dacre family into which the Howards had married.9 They also provide part of the context for Winifred’s remark ‘The earth of Cumberland is my earth, way back to the Medieval, to the Roman time, the Celtic-bronze age time’.10 Her early watercolour, probably painted while Howard was still alive, bears characteristics that we find in her later work; the scheme of the composition sketched out in pencil – in later works it is often a much freer and gestural crayon not always easily visible under the oil paint – and the view sideways on to the door allows the eye to be led up the stairs to the level of the two beasts’ heads at the very crux of the image.

Mary Parke Naworth Castle, c1840 Watercolour on paper 27.5 x 38 cm Private Collection photography: Tony West

George Howard Lady Cecilia Roberts with Winifred and Christina on the Terrace at Naworth, c1900 Watercolour on paper 35.5 x 20.5 cm Private Collection

Lady Cecilia Roberts Naworth Castle Garden with Monsignor Stanley, c1890 Watercolour on paper 34.5 x 52.5 cm Private Collection

Winifred Nicholson’s painting is essentially about colour, for, as she remarked, ‘colours wish to fly, to merge, to change each other by their juxtapositions, to radiate, to shine, to withdraw deep within themselves’.2 But she is also a painter of place, and one place meant more than any other to her: Cumberland.3 Apart from short spells during the early 1920s when she spent the winters in Lugano, Switzerland, and the 1930s when she lived in Paris – and even then she returned to Cumberland for the summers – she lived in this county all her adult life.4 And although Winifred loved to travel, painting particularly beautiful works in Lugano, Cornwall, France, the Hebrides, and Greece, it was always to Cumberland that she returned and that she loved most. It is in this context of Winifred as a subtle colourist, but also most at home in the north of England, that this book discusses the paintings she made throughout her career over a period of 70 years in Cumberland. The earth of Cumberland is my earth.5 Winifred Nicholson Winifred’s artistic roots in Cumberland stretch back to her great grandmother, Mary Parke, who after her marriage to Charles Howard, came to stay at Naworth Castle on their honeymoon.6 Mary Parke, born in 1822 was a gifted watercolourist whose life was tragically cut short after she gave birth to a son, George Howard, in 1843. Winifred was very conscious of Mary Parke’s work, for many of her paintings hung at Boothby, Winifred’s parent’s house in Cumberland. She also considered that Mary Parke bequeathed her gift to George Howard,7 who in turn gave Winifred her first lessons in painting. Howard’s painting of the terrace at Naworth captures the atmosphere of creativity in which Winifred was brought up. Lady Cecilia, George’s daughter and Winifred’s mother, and an accomplished painter herself, is depicted painting while Winifred and her sister Christina are reading.8 How much Howard contributed to Winifred’s development as a painter can be seen in their pictures of the Dacre Beasts in the great hall at Naworth (pp28 & 29). These four heraldic beasts, carved out of one oak tree at the beginning of the sixteenth century

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and which with their standards reach over three metres tall, symbolised the ascendancy of the Dacre family into which the Howards had married.9 They also provide part of the context for Winifred’s remark ‘The earth of Cumberland is my earth, way back to the Medieval, to the Roman time, the Celtic-bronze age time’.10 Her early watercolour, probably painted while Howard was still alive, bears characteristics that we find in her later work; the scheme of the composition sketched out in pencil – in later works it is often a much freer and gestural crayon not always easily visible under the oil paint – and the view sideways on to the door allows the eye to be led up the stairs to the level of the two beasts’ heads at the very crux of the image.

Mary Parke Naworth Castle, c1840 Watercolour on paper 27.5 x 38 cm Private Collection photography: Tony West

George Howard Lady Cecilia Roberts with Winifred and Christina on the Terrace at Naworth, c1900 Watercolour on paper 35.5 x 20.5 cm Private Collection

Lady Cecilia Roberts Naworth Castle Garden with Monsignor Stanley, c1890 Watercolour on paper 34.5 x 52.5 cm Private Collection

Winifred Nicholson’s painting is essentially about colour, for, as she remarked, ‘colours wish to fly, to merge, to change each other by their juxtapositions, to radiate, to shine, to withdraw deep within themselves’.2 But she is also a painter of place, and one place meant more than any other to her: Cumberland.3 Apart from short spells during the early 1920s when she spent the winters in Lugano, Switzerland, and the 1930s when she lived in Paris – and even then she returned to Cumberland for the summers – she lived in this county all her adult life.4 And although Winifred loved to travel, painting particularly beautiful works in Lugano, Cornwall, France, the Hebrides, and Greece, it was always to Cumberland that she returned and that she loved most. It is in this context of Winifred as a subtle colourist, but also most at home in the north of England, that this book discusses the paintings she made throughout her career over a period of 70 years in Cumberland. The earth of Cumberland is my earth.5 Winifred Nicholson Winifred’s artistic roots in Cumberland stretch back to her great grandmother, Mary Parke, who after her marriage to Charles Howard, came to stay at Naworth Castle on their honeymoon.6 Mary Parke, born in 1822 was a gifted watercolourist whose life was tragically cut short after she gave birth to a son, George Howard, in 1843. Winifred was very conscious of Mary Parke’s work, for many of her paintings hung at Boothby, Winifred’s parent’s house in Cumberland. She also considered that Mary Parke bequeathed her gift to George Howard,7 who in turn gave Winifred her first lessons in painting. Howard’s painting of the terrace at Naworth captures the atmosphere of creativity in which Winifred was brought up. Lady Cecilia, George’s daughter and Winifred’s mother, and an accomplished painter herself, is depicted painting while Winifred and her sister Christina are reading.8 How much Howard contributed to Winifred’s development as a painter can be seen in their pictures of the Dacre Beasts in the great hall at Naworth (pp28 & 29). These four heraldic beasts, carved out of one oak tree at the beginning of the sixteenth century

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buttercups, dandelions; no yellower. I added to my butter-like mass, two everlasting peas, magenta pink, and all my yellows broke into luminosity. Orange and gold and lemon and primrose each singing its note.12 This is clearly demonstrated in the paintings Bankshead Flowers in an Alabaster Vase, (p42) and From Bedroom Window, Bankshead (p43), where the various shades of magenta pink hold the structure of the work together, drawing out all the brightness of the differing yellows. Very often it is this colour, the magenta pink, or violet, which is the key to a painting, for if in your mind’s eye you cover it over the composition goes flat. When I see a work by Winifred it is the colour I look for first, for as she remarked, Violet is the colour of highest tension, the colour only visible in its beauty at moments of high vitality and clearest sunlight. It is the most difficult colour to use, and those artists whose primary interest is form always remain within the safe precincts of the lower notes of the scale, vermillion and blue with brown and neutrals. Those artists who have been interested in the potency of colour have always investigated violet – though they rarely used more than a little of its suspicious magic.13 Or, as she put it more succinctly, ‘Which of us knows that no sunlight can be expressed without a hint of the mystery of violet.’14

Underheugh Farm, near Birdoswald, from an Indian sketch book, 1920 Watercolour 23 x 30.5 cm Private Collection

Winifred studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London before the First World War, where her tutor complained she saw too many colours. It was during an extensive trip to India, Burma and Ceylon that she made her first real discovery, noting how eastern art used lilac to create sunlight.11 One of the Indian sketch books she made at the time contains some revelatory views of Cumberland, revealing how on her return to England her sense of colour had been transformed. In 1920 Winifred married the painter Ben Nicholson and spent the winters of the early part of their marriage in Lugano, Switzerland, where together they experimented freely. Crucially, they visited Paris on their way to and from Lugano and were abreast of the latest developments in modern art, seeing works by Picasso, Derain, Rousseau, as well as Cézanne and Matisse, and exploring primitive sculpture from Africa. These two elements, an understanding of Cubism and the freedom to experiment, resulted in Winifred finding the theme that was to last her a lifetime: flowers in a pot, jug or vase sitting on a window sill with a view behind. Not long after, she discovered the central idea of her colour theories: Yesterday I set out to pick a yellow bunch to place as a lamp on my table in dull, rainy weather. I picked Iceland poppies, marigolds, yellow iris; my bunch would not tell yellow. I added sunflowers, canary pansies,

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From Bedroom Window, Bankshead, c1930 Oil on canvas 49.5 x 49.5 cm Private Collection

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buttercups, dandelions; no yellower. I added to my butter-like mass, two everlasting peas, magenta pink, and all my yellows broke into luminosity. Orange and gold and lemon and primrose each singing its note.12 This is clearly demonstrated in the paintings Bankshead Flowers in an Alabaster Vase, (p42) and From Bedroom Window, Bankshead (p43), where the various shades of magenta pink hold the structure of the work together, drawing out all the brightness of the differing yellows. Very often it is this colour, the magenta pink, or violet, which is the key to a painting, for if in your mind’s eye you cover it over the composition goes flat. When I see a work by Winifred it is the colour I look for first, for as she remarked, Violet is the colour of highest tension, the colour only visible in its beauty at moments of high vitality and clearest sunlight. It is the most difficult colour to use, and those artists whose primary interest is form always remain within the safe precincts of the lower notes of the scale, vermillion and blue with brown and neutrals. Those artists who have been interested in the potency of colour have always investigated violet – though they rarely used more than a little of its suspicious magic.13 Or, as she put it more succinctly, ‘Which of us knows that no sunlight can be expressed without a hint of the mystery of violet.’14

Underheugh Farm, near Birdoswald, from an Indian sketch book, 1920 Watercolour 23 x 30.5 cm Private Collection

Winifred studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London before the First World War, where her tutor complained she saw too many colours. It was during an extensive trip to India, Burma and Ceylon that she made her first real discovery, noting how eastern art used lilac to create sunlight.11 One of the Indian sketch books she made at the time contains some revelatory views of Cumberland, revealing how on her return to England her sense of colour had been transformed. In 1920 Winifred married the painter Ben Nicholson and spent the winters of the early part of their marriage in Lugano, Switzerland, where together they experimented freely. Crucially, they visited Paris on their way to and from Lugano and were abreast of the latest developments in modern art, seeing works by Picasso, Derain, Rousseau, as well as Cézanne and Matisse, and exploring primitive sculpture from Africa. These two elements, an understanding of Cubism and the freedom to experiment, resulted in Winifred finding the theme that was to last her a lifetime: flowers in a pot, jug or vase sitting on a window sill with a view behind. Not long after, she discovered the central idea of her colour theories: Yesterday I set out to pick a yellow bunch to place as a lamp on my table in dull, rainy weather. I picked Iceland poppies, marigolds, yellow iris; my bunch would not tell yellow. I added sunflowers, canary pansies,

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From Bedroom Window, Bankshead, c1930 Oil on canvas 49.5 x 49.5 cm Private Collection

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Bankshead, where Winifred was based for the majority of the 1920s, was the farmhouse that she purchased in 1923, and kept for the rest of her life: This was a grey farmstead, a little house built out of Roman Wall stones, a byre and a barn, on the line of Hadrian’s Wall overlooking the great valley of the Irthing river, and over towards the blue-grey fells.15 Overlooking the Irthing valley with the north Pennines in the distance, Bankshead was perfectly suited for her misty views. She also enjoyed its rural setting, and shortly after moving in painted The Warwick Family, the farmers who lived next door to Bankshead. Seated at their table with daughter Janet and grandson Norman and with a black range behind them, Tom and Margaret Warwick exude the rugged directness of a life spent working the soil and tending animals. Winifred also painted the Galloway cattle in their byre (see Black Cattle p36).16 But perhaps the most important way they influenced Winifred was by introducing her to the northern tradition of making hooky rugs. Winifred, enthralled by the directness and raw power of this primitive art, in turn encouraged Ben and her father-in-law, William Nicholson, to design rugs.17 It was not until the 1960s that Winifred began a revival in the making of these traditional rugs, using two of Mrs Warwick’s daughters, Janet Heap and Mary Bewick, as two of her main makers.18 The excitement and sense of affirmation she must have felt coming face to face with primitive art being produced cannot be underestimated, something that is hinted at by the rug, hooky or not, lying on the stone flags in Flower Table No 4 (p39).

The Warwick Family, c1926 Oil on canvas 76.8 x 127 cm Private Collection

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At this time the Nicholson’s did not own a car and it was unusual for Winifred to go as far afield as the Lake District. Blencathra, where the mountain fills almost the whole canvas with a cloud peering over the summit, conveys the massiveness of the peak, and is the only painting that Winifred is known to have made in the Lake District before the war.19

Blencathra, 1920s Oil on canvas 64 x 76 cm Private Collection

Winifred was most at ease painting at Bankshead with its stone flag floors, white lime wash walls, simple white furniture (Flower Table No 4, p39) and black range (Starry Eyed and Fire and Water, p40). Another source of inspiration was her young family, who she clearly enjoyed painting (Bathtime, p45).20 She also painted the area around Bankshead, notably in the paintings of Craig Hill (p30) and Cumberland Landscape (p34). This later elemental painting, with its scudding clouds and leafless ash tree bent by the autumn winds, was almost certainly painted at Boothby, Winifred’s parent’s house situated nearby. It was to Boothby that Winifred turned after her marriage began to break up in 1931. During the 1920s Winifred had been one of the leading British painters, with artists like Paul Nash, Ivon Hitchens and Christopher Wood visiting and working at Bankshead, and her exhibitions in London achieving both critical and commercial success. Searching for a fresh impetus, she spent most of the 1930s in Paris and became friends with such artists as Mondrian, Gabo and Hélion, but always returned to Boothby for the summer.21

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Bankshead, where Winifred was based for the majority of the 1920s, was the farmhouse that she purchased in 1923, and kept for the rest of her life: This was a grey farmstead, a little house built out of Roman Wall stones, a byre and a barn, on the line of Hadrian’s Wall overlooking the great valley of the Irthing river, and over towards the blue-grey fells.15 Overlooking the Irthing valley with the north Pennines in the distance, Bankshead was perfectly suited for her misty views. She also enjoyed its rural setting, and shortly after moving in painted The Warwick Family, the farmers who lived next door to Bankshead. Seated at their table with daughter Janet and grandson Norman and with a black range behind them, Tom and Margaret Warwick exude the rugged directness of a life spent working the soil and tending animals. Winifred also painted the Galloway cattle in their byre (see Black Cattle p36).16 But perhaps the most important way they influenced Winifred was by introducing her to the northern tradition of making hooky rugs. Winifred, enthralled by the directness and raw power of this primitive art, in turn encouraged Ben and her father-in-law, William Nicholson, to design rugs.17 It was not until the 1960s that Winifred began a revival in the making of these traditional rugs, using two of Mrs Warwick’s daughters, Janet Heap and Mary Bewick, as two of her main makers.18 The excitement and sense of affirmation she must have felt coming face to face with primitive art being produced cannot be underestimated, something that is hinted at by the rug, hooky or not, lying on the stone flags in Flower Table No 4 (p39).

The Warwick Family, c1926 Oil on canvas 76.8 x 127 cm Private Collection

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At this time the Nicholson’s did not own a car and it was unusual for Winifred to go as far afield as the Lake District. Blencathra, where the mountain fills almost the whole canvas with a cloud peering over the summit, conveys the massiveness of the peak, and is the only painting that Winifred is known to have made in the Lake District before the war.19

Blencathra, 1920s Oil on canvas 64 x 76 cm Private Collection

Winifred was most at ease painting at Bankshead with its stone flag floors, white lime wash walls, simple white furniture (Flower Table No 4, p39) and black range (Starry Eyed and Fire and Water, p40). Another source of inspiration was her young family, who she clearly enjoyed painting (Bathtime, p45).20 She also painted the area around Bankshead, notably in the paintings of Craig Hill (p30) and Cumberland Landscape (p34). This later elemental painting, with its scudding clouds and leafless ash tree bent by the autumn winds, was almost certainly painted at Boothby, Winifred’s parent’s house situated nearby. It was to Boothby that Winifred turned after her marriage began to break up in 1931. During the 1920s Winifred had been one of the leading British painters, with artists like Paul Nash, Ivon Hitchens and Christopher Wood visiting and working at Bankshead, and her exhibitions in London achieving both critical and commercial success. Searching for a fresh impetus, she spent most of the 1930s in Paris and became friends with such artists as Mondrian, Gabo and Hélion, but always returned to Boothby for the summer.21

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Sunlight in Cumberland after all the rain, it’s like no sunlight anywhere else.22 Winifred Nicholson

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Sunlight in Cumberland after all the rain, it’s like no sunlight anywhere else.22 Winifred Nicholson

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Boothby was a house concocted out of a manor house, some cottages, a farm house and a barn by Winifred’s grandmother in 1911 after her husband died. Here, surrounded by the activity of a large busy house (her father, Charles Roberts, was chairman of Cumberland County Council from 1938 to 1958), Winifred found an atmosphere well suited to her creativity: The house is peaceful and happy, full of vermillion dahlias, sweetpeas, and late chrysanthemums, the trees outside are bronze and copper – the late mellow Martin’s summer is pleasant and warm. … Today I have been painting white misty clematis and blue misty love in a mist, against hazy autumn hills – I enjoyed painting it very much.23 After spending periods at Boothby in the 1930s, where she painted Windflowers (p46) and Campanulas (p47), it was not surprising that early during the Second World War Winifred moved back there and stayed until her father’s death in 1959. Living in the house at various times during the war were 12 children evacuated from Newcastle, Vladimir, a Russian émigré, and José a Spanish republican, amongst others, and employment was found for two middle-aged German Jewish sisters. Winifred played her part by ploughing fields and working the land.24 The war over, Winifred found at Boothby an air of contentment amongst rural pursuits – for a time she was a member of the Cumberland Education Committee as well as a trustee of Carlisle Art College. Lovely peaceful sunny misty autumn days, full of mysterious fulfilment. I paint red admirals hundreds of them that hover over the purple Michaelmas Daisies. I painted the figure of Mary Magdalene up in the East front of Lanercost. I painted another mysterious picture, bluish misty grey with dusky pinks. The house is empty except for cats and dogs, puppies and kittens, who have most things their own way, and monopolise most arm chairs.24 White Cyclamen, 1955 Oil on canvas 50.8 x 61 cm Private Collection

White Campion, 1940s Oil on canvas 62.8 x 62.9 cm Private Collection

Like so many of the houses where she felt relaxed she painted views from different windows. Previously her studio had been a large room looking south, although she continued to use this room making such works as Boothby Hyacinths (p50) and Cumberland Flowers (p53), with the misty Pennines in the distance. After the war she moved to small rooms facing north east towards the Bewcastle fells, christened ‘catkillers’, and painted Evening at Boothby (p52) and White Cyclamen (p14).26 But she also painted the view looking north west across the Solway towards Criffel in Daffodils and Pewter Jug (p58) which, with its apple buds about to sprout, illustrates one of Winifred’s favourite themes: ‘I like promise of things to come. There always turns out such unexpected and exciting things in the colourlessness of the unknown future’.27 Winifred eloquently explained why she liked painting flowers so much: ‘I have tried to paint many things in many different ways, but my paint brush always gives a tremor of pleasure when I let it paint a flower – and I think I know why this is so’.28 She made the point that many colours are named after flowers; rose, violet, primrose. But what she deeply appreciated was the way they ‘turn common air into perfume, light into rainbows and the irreconcilable into the neighbourliness of brush strokes’.29 While many of her paintings are of garden flowers, wild flowers were what she most deeply appreciated. This love had a slightly unexpected consequence when Cumberland adopted a flag about 1950: it had three Grass of Parnassus flowers on it, a small flower with five white petals that grows on the Cumbrian fells.30

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Boothby was a house concocted out of a manor house, some cottages, a farm house and a barn by Winifred’s grandmother in 1911 after her husband died. Here, surrounded by the activity of a large busy house (her father, Charles Roberts, was chairman of Cumberland County Council from 1938 to 1958), Winifred found an atmosphere well suited to her creativity: The house is peaceful and happy, full of vermillion dahlias, sweetpeas, and late chrysanthemums, the trees outside are bronze and copper – the late mellow Martin’s summer is pleasant and warm. … Today I have been painting white misty clematis and blue misty love in a mist, against hazy autumn hills – I enjoyed painting it very much.23 After spending periods at Boothby in the 1930s, where she painted Windflowers (p46) and Campanulas (p47), it was not surprising that early during the Second World War Winifred moved back there and stayed until her father’s death in 1959. Living in the house at various times during the war were 12 children evacuated from Newcastle, Vladimir, a Russian émigré, and José a Spanish republican, amongst others, and employment was found for two middle-aged German Jewish sisters. Winifred played her part by ploughing fields and working the land.24 The war over, Winifred found at Boothby an air of contentment amongst rural pursuits – for a time she was a member of the Cumberland Education Committee as well as a trustee of Carlisle Art College. Lovely peaceful sunny misty autumn days, full of mysterious fulfilment. I paint red admirals hundreds of them that hover over the purple Michaelmas Daisies. I painted the figure of Mary Magdalene up in the East front of Lanercost. I painted another mysterious picture, bluish misty grey with dusky pinks. The house is empty except for cats and dogs, puppies and kittens, who have most things their own way, and monopolise most arm chairs.24 White Cyclamen, 1955 Oil on canvas 50.8 x 61 cm Private Collection

White Campion, 1940s Oil on canvas 62.8 x 62.9 cm Private Collection

Like so many of the houses where she felt relaxed she painted views from different windows. Previously her studio had been a large room looking south, although she continued to use this room making such works as Boothby Hyacinths (p50) and Cumberland Flowers (p53), with the misty Pennines in the distance. After the war she moved to small rooms facing north east towards the Bewcastle fells, christened ‘catkillers’, and painted Evening at Boothby (p52) and White Cyclamen (p14).26 But she also painted the view looking north west across the Solway towards Criffel in Daffodils and Pewter Jug (p58) which, with its apple buds about to sprout, illustrates one of Winifred’s favourite themes: ‘I like promise of things to come. There always turns out such unexpected and exciting things in the colourlessness of the unknown future’.27 Winifred eloquently explained why she liked painting flowers so much: ‘I have tried to paint many things in many different ways, but my paint brush always gives a tremor of pleasure when I let it paint a flower – and I think I know why this is so’.28 She made the point that many colours are named after flowers; rose, violet, primrose. But what she deeply appreciated was the way they ‘turn common air into perfume, light into rainbows and the irreconcilable into the neighbourliness of brush strokes’.29 While many of her paintings are of garden flowers, wild flowers were what she most deeply appreciated. This love had a slightly unexpected consequence when Cumberland adopted a flag about 1950: it had three Grass of Parnassus flowers on it, a small flower with five white petals that grows on the Cumbrian fells.30

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As well as painting Winifred also kept bees and goats and joined the local archaeological society so as to explore the various stone circles in the county.31 Winifred particularly enjoyed prehistoric cultures, writing at one point to her friend, the poet Kathleen Raine, that ‘I would love to go somewhere poetry and painting with you. Anywhere, but preferably Bronze Age’.32 She not only painted the stone circles of Torhousie near Stranraer and Ring of Brodgar on Orkney, as well as the stones at Carnac, Brittany and Killadangan Stone Row in Ireland,33 but also Castlerigg stone circle near Keswick and Long Meg and Her Daughters (p56) at Little Salkeld with its outrider and the fells of the Lake District in the distance.34 Second to Stonehenge in size in this country ‘Long Meg and Her Daughters’ even today has no car park, sparse information and few visitors, retaining its sense of mystery, timelessness and romance. If you line up an image of Winifred’s painting within the circle it is clear that the picture was made from a sitting viewpoint, suggesting it was painted on the spot. Winifred’s friends who lived in the Lake District played a crucial part in encouraging her creativity. The most important of these was her patron and collector, Helen Sutherland, who had first met Winifred in the 1920s and went on to form the largest and most significant collection of Winifred’s work.35 Shortly before the beginning of the war Helen Sutherland had moved to Cockley Moor, a large house above the village of Dockray in the North Lakes. Not only did Winifred meet Kathleen Raine here, who was to become a close friend and travelling companion, but she also made a number of paintings at Sutherland’s house, as she often did at houses where she found the atmosphere sympathetic.36 Cockley Moor (p60) with its delicate pink geranium looks towards the Great Dodd, a landscape that has remained almost totally unchanged today. Another friend was the novelist Richard Hughes, who for a short time rented Lyulph’s Tower above Ullswater, not far from Cockley Moor.37 Winifred’s picture, Ullswater (p66), was very probably made when she was staying with Hughes.38 Although it is unclear where Cumberland Hills was painted, it is evident this was a household where Winifred felt at ease and relaxed. This quality permeates the painting and communicates itself to the viewer, even though we might know little of the sources of inspiration behind the painting. Other locations or scenes she chose simply because she liked the view so much. For a short time towards the end of the war Winifred’s eldest son attended St Bees school, which is when she first became captivated by the view from St Bees Head looking out over the Irish Sea with the Isle of Man in the distance. This view dominates White Campion (p15), a painting very characteristic of Winifred’s creativity at its most assured. Its paint thinned so much that in places it ran, while the soft white gradations of the blue on a summer’s day lead the eye out to sea. The space in between the jug of flowers and the hazy distance is painted with complete conviction, the breakers on the sandy beach approximated in experimental flourishes and with the white sparkle of the Campion placed dextrously on the line of the horizon, so breaking its dominance.

The Solway Firth, c1950 Oil on canvas 40.6 x 91.4 cm Private Collection on loan to Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Although Winifred’s pictures often appear to have been painted with great ease, at times the opposite was the case. Clearly a large part of her creativity was the elements that she excluded: To me [painting] has always been the working out of the harmony of life and of love – and the hard horrid things in life, like the tragic death from cancer, cannot be run away from, but have to be coped with as best one can – and taken into account in the resolving of things into thoughts and visual experiences.39 Perhaps this is a reference to her father who died in 1959. Shortly after his passing Winifred moved back to Bankshead where she spent the last 20 years of her life.

16

17


As well as painting Winifred also kept bees and goats and joined the local archaeological society so as to explore the various stone circles in the county.31 Winifred particularly enjoyed prehistoric cultures, writing at one point to her friend, the poet Kathleen Raine, that ‘I would love to go somewhere poetry and painting with you. Anywhere, but preferably Bronze Age’.32 She not only painted the stone circles of Torhousie near Stranraer and Ring of Brodgar on Orkney, as well as the stones at Carnac, Brittany and Killadangan Stone Row in Ireland,33 but also Castlerigg stone circle near Keswick and Long Meg and Her Daughters (p56) at Little Salkeld with its outrider and the fells of the Lake District in the distance.34 Second to Stonehenge in size in this country ‘Long Meg and Her Daughters’ even today has no car park, sparse information and few visitors, retaining its sense of mystery, timelessness and romance. If you line up an image of Winifred’s painting within the circle it is clear that the picture was made from a sitting viewpoint, suggesting it was painted on the spot. Winifred’s friends who lived in the Lake District played a crucial part in encouraging her creativity. The most important of these was her patron and collector, Helen Sutherland, who had first met Winifred in the 1920s and went on to form the largest and most significant collection of Winifred’s work.35 Shortly before the beginning of the war Helen Sutherland had moved to Cockley Moor, a large house above the village of Dockray in the North Lakes. Not only did Winifred meet Kathleen Raine here, who was to become a close friend and travelling companion, but she also made a number of paintings at Sutherland’s house, as she often did at houses where she found the atmosphere sympathetic.36 Cockley Moor (p60) with its delicate pink geranium looks towards the Great Dodd, a landscape that has remained almost totally unchanged today. Another friend was the novelist Richard Hughes, who for a short time rented Lyulph’s Tower above Ullswater, not far from Cockley Moor.37 Winifred’s picture, Ullswater (p66), was very probably made when she was staying with Hughes.38 Although it is unclear where Cumberland Hills was painted, it is evident this was a household where Winifred felt at ease and relaxed. This quality permeates the painting and communicates itself to the viewer, even though we might know little of the sources of inspiration behind the painting. Other locations or scenes she chose simply because she liked the view so much. For a short time towards the end of the war Winifred’s eldest son attended St Bees school, which is when she first became captivated by the view from St Bees Head looking out over the Irish Sea with the Isle of Man in the distance. This view dominates White Campion (p15), a painting very characteristic of Winifred’s creativity at its most assured. Its paint thinned so much that in places it ran, while the soft white gradations of the blue on a summer’s day lead the eye out to sea. The space in between the jug of flowers and the hazy distance is painted with complete conviction, the breakers on the sandy beach approximated in experimental flourishes and with the white sparkle of the Campion placed dextrously on the line of the horizon, so breaking its dominance.

The Solway Firth, c1950 Oil on canvas 40.6 x 91.4 cm Private Collection on loan to Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Although Winifred’s pictures often appear to have been painted with great ease, at times the opposite was the case. Clearly a large part of her creativity was the elements that she excluded: To me [painting] has always been the working out of the harmony of life and of love – and the hard horrid things in life, like the tragic death from cancer, cannot be run away from, but have to be coped with as best one can – and taken into account in the resolving of things into thoughts and visual experiences.39 Perhaps this is a reference to her father who died in 1959. Shortly after his passing Winifred moved back to Bankshead where she spent the last 20 years of her life.

16

17


Bracken and Snowflake, 1970s Oil on canvas 68.6 x 83.8 cm Private Collection

One person alone needs little – or rather not so much as a family … I have abundance. My garden is full of old time roses, that is full of fragrance – white pansies, lilies and harebells. My studio is full of paints and canvases, and Chinese paint brushes. My cupboards are full of honey and homemade marmalade. Yes, I suppose I ought not to be so contented with my windswept home … but I am happy here.40 Winifred Nicholson

18

19


Bracken and Snowflake, 1970s Oil on canvas 68.6 x 83.8 cm Private Collection

One person alone needs little – or rather not so much as a family … I have abundance. My garden is full of old time roses, that is full of fragrance – white pansies, lilies and harebells. My studio is full of paints and canvases, and Chinese paint brushes. My cupboards are full of honey and homemade marmalade. Yes, I suppose I ought not to be so contented with my windswept home … but I am happy here.40 Winifred Nicholson

18

19


Winifred Nicholson’s late period at Bankshead was a remarkable culmination of a lifetime’s creativity, even if to begin with there was a certain hesitancy. Surprisingly, there are few Cumberland paintings dating from the early sixties which suggests Winifred was going through a period of readjustment.41 Presumably this was partly the problem of acclimatising to life without her father,42 and there were also distractions at Bankshead, now lived in by her eldest son’s family. It cannot have been easy trying to paint with two mischievous toddler grandchildren sharing the house, for when painting she liked to concentrate intently without interruptions. Throughout her career Winifred regularly enjoyed solo shows in London, but there were none in the decade from 1954. When eventually she had a London exhibition in 1964 she showed exclusively Greek paintings. During the 1960s Winifred made regular trips to Greece, often staying for several months, where she delighted in the hospitality, culture, light and a sense of history, all of which made for conducive conditions for painting. Also, in the spring it was generally warmer than Cumberland and at that time cheaper too. But there was another reason why Winifred enjoyed her travels so much and that was ‘if one goes away one sees things with a fresh eye and I certainly feel a great zest for painting right now’.43 One of the considerations for discussing Winifred’s love of Cumberland is that while she was an excellent writer, both about her painting and the places she enjoyed on her travels, she rarely wrote at length about Cumberland in her articles or letters. Presumably this was because her correspondents knew exactly how she felt about her home county and as a consequence her remarks tended to be short comments: ‘the snowdrops are out and the grey winds make one loath to leave Cumberland, but I expect it will be nice to see London’.44 It is also instructive to see how little she painted in Northumberland or immediately across the border in Scotland,45 aside from her more far flung travels, restricting herself almost exclusively to Cumberland.

Moonlight, Pots Loan, 1978 Oil on canvas 49 x 59.7 cm Private Collection

There were other challenges living in Cumberland. At times it was difficult to find good quality paints and she often relied on Ben to send her some from Switzerland: Some lovely Blockx paints arrived. I was so very delighted to see them and they are all the colours that I use and all those that I have had I have used up. …[Kate says] they are so much too bright she has to ‘tone them down’ to go with her English paints. But never too bright for me, nor too luminous, nor too glowing in this grey misty November Cumberland.46 There were difficulties, too, with framers and while in the 1920s she often used the Chelsea arts store, living in Cumberland after the war she resorted to having frames made by Grays, the local undertakers in Carlisle. When circumstances allowed Winifred took great care over the frames, often painting them a specific colour to blend in with the painting; for example, each individual frame for Blue Septagons, Inward and Outward, and Pic St. Loup, all painted in France in the 1930s, is painted a subtly different shade of grey to blend with the different colour harmonies of each picture. At the end of her life she was delighted to find a good local joiner in Alan Harvey, and enjoyed choosing special woods with him for particular paintings; many of her prismatic paintings were framed by him.

Snowdrops and Aconites, 1970s Oil on canvas 40.6 x 45.7 cm Private Collection

20

Perhaps her greatest challenge was the lack of stimulation or advice from kindred spirits: ‘I sometimes get “stuck” up here, my own fault I know, but I do want to get really down to some ideas that are heaving for release’.47 She engaged in a dialogue with Ben about who to show her paintings to complaining at one moment that ‘no one sees what I do up here, so I don’t really know but I don’t mind that at all’.48 Later she was more assertive remarking that

21


Winifred Nicholson’s late period at Bankshead was a remarkable culmination of a lifetime’s creativity, even if to begin with there was a certain hesitancy. Surprisingly, there are few Cumberland paintings dating from the early sixties which suggests Winifred was going through a period of readjustment.41 Presumably this was partly the problem of acclimatising to life without her father,42 and there were also distractions at Bankshead, now lived in by her eldest son’s family. It cannot have been easy trying to paint with two mischievous toddler grandchildren sharing the house, for when painting she liked to concentrate intently without interruptions. Throughout her career Winifred regularly enjoyed solo shows in London, but there were none in the decade from 1954. When eventually she had a London exhibition in 1964 she showed exclusively Greek paintings. During the 1960s Winifred made regular trips to Greece, often staying for several months, where she delighted in the hospitality, culture, light and a sense of history, all of which made for conducive conditions for painting. Also, in the spring it was generally warmer than Cumberland and at that time cheaper too. But there was another reason why Winifred enjoyed her travels so much and that was ‘if one goes away one sees things with a fresh eye and I certainly feel a great zest for painting right now’.43 One of the considerations for discussing Winifred’s love of Cumberland is that while she was an excellent writer, both about her painting and the places she enjoyed on her travels, she rarely wrote at length about Cumberland in her articles or letters. Presumably this was because her correspondents knew exactly how she felt about her home county and as a consequence her remarks tended to be short comments: ‘the snowdrops are out and the grey winds make one loath to leave Cumberland, but I expect it will be nice to see London’.44 It is also instructive to see how little she painted in Northumberland or immediately across the border in Scotland,45 aside from her more far flung travels, restricting herself almost exclusively to Cumberland.

Moonlight, Pots Loan, 1978 Oil on canvas 49 x 59.7 cm Private Collection

There were other challenges living in Cumberland. At times it was difficult to find good quality paints and she often relied on Ben to send her some from Switzerland: Some lovely Blockx paints arrived. I was so very delighted to see them and they are all the colours that I use and all those that I have had I have used up. …[Kate says] they are so much too bright she has to ‘tone them down’ to go with her English paints. But never too bright for me, nor too luminous, nor too glowing in this grey misty November Cumberland.46 There were difficulties, too, with framers and while in the 1920s she often used the Chelsea arts store, living in Cumberland after the war she resorted to having frames made by Grays, the local undertakers in Carlisle. When circumstances allowed Winifred took great care over the frames, often painting them a specific colour to blend in with the painting; for example, each individual frame for Blue Septagons, Inward and Outward, and Pic St. Loup, all painted in France in the 1930s, is painted a subtly different shade of grey to blend with the different colour harmonies of each picture. At the end of her life she was delighted to find a good local joiner in Alan Harvey, and enjoyed choosing special woods with him for particular paintings; many of her prismatic paintings were framed by him.

Snowdrops and Aconites, 1970s Oil on canvas 40.6 x 45.7 cm Private Collection

20

Perhaps her greatest challenge was the lack of stimulation or advice from kindred spirits: ‘I sometimes get “stuck” up here, my own fault I know, but I do want to get really down to some ideas that are heaving for release’.47 She engaged in a dialogue with Ben about who to show her paintings to complaining at one moment that ‘no one sees what I do up here, so I don’t really know but I don’t mind that at all’.48 Later she was more assertive remarking that

21


Another source of stimulus was the arrival of the Chinese artist Li Yuan-chia who, with Winifred’s help, opened the LYC Museum and Art Gallery on the Banks, a short walk from Winifred’s house. Li, who was educated in Taiwan and had exhibited with the Signals gallery in London, was keen to help young artists. In the decade Li ran the gallery from 1972, he gave shows to many artists who later went on to make names for themselves, including Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash, James Hugonin, and Bill Woodrow. The emphasis was on a wider sense of creativity, with a whole room where children were encouraged to experiment and Kathleen Raine and Frances Horovitz gave poetry readings. While Winifred herself exhibited with Li four times, the stimulation she gained from monthly openings cannot be underestimated, for Winifred was always sympathetic to young artists and their experiments. She owned a multiple by the kinetic sculptor Takis, and Pam Twiss, who interviewed her for the Cumberland News in the early 1960s, remembers Winifred, who had just returned from America, enthusing about the Op Art she had seen in New York.50

Rainbow Arlots, c1969 Oil on canvas 40.6 x 50.8 cm

You think I can’t judge my work. I can much better than you think. I know when I am happy at heart and the pictures give a hop, skip and a jump that I never mention to them, but that they took on their own initiative.49

As before Winifred painted other areas in the county, notably Duddon Valley,51 where the luxurious viscosity of the paint gives the feeling the painting has only recently been completed (this, with The Sycamore, are the only two pictures in the exhibition not painted within the old boundaries of Cumberland).52 Moonlight, Pots Loan (p21) has a more intriguing genesis. It is the name of a very remote farm in the Spadeadam Waste, now surrounded by the banal and barren forestry of Kielder, which for a time had been farmed by Winifred’s first cousin, Michael Eden.53 The forestry planting and the late date of the picture suggests that the painting was not made in situ and is a sort of memory. Intriguingly, for a time Moonlight, Pots Loan was owned by Kathleen Raine, who returned it to Winifred because she felt it ‘was too wicked’!

However, these were minor distractions and it was not long before Winifred began painting the view from Bankshead looking towards the fells of the north Pennines. Although Winifred painted in many different rooms at Bankshead, latterly she mostly painted in the Sunroom, a room that was part of an extension built in 1930 (hence why she had not particularly painted this view in the 1920s) forming the highpoint of the house. The pictures made in this room tend to be easily recognisable because of the two lightly curved humps of the fells, Haltonlea on the left and Cold Fell on the right, as in Blackbirds in a Landscape (p72), though Winifred imaginatively varied her depictions of the fells. In Snowdrops and Aconites the more direct viewpoint only permits space for one arc, as the winter dawn gradually breaks behind Cold Fell. And in Bracken and Snowflake (p19) there is a hint of Tindale Fell, which sits in front of the higher Cold Fell, and, further to the right behind Tarnmonath Fell, a suggestion of sunshine trying to break through the swirling grey clouds, as the bracken fronds unfurl surrounded by a luscious green promising brighter days to come, all brought to sizzling point by a dash of pink magenta. Winifred also enjoyed laying out her garden which she had first begun in the 1920s, and filled it with a cherry tree, Victoria plums, a walnut and gean (wild cherry). There were dusky cranesbills, aconites, hellebores and daffodils – over ten different varieties – many of which made their way into paintings. She was particularly fond of her scented oldfashioned roses, which included ‘Celestial’, ‘Blush Damask’, ‘Alba Maxima’, ‘Old Velvet Moss’, ‘Belle de Crecy’, ‘Zephirine Drouhin’, ‘Ophelia’, ‘Moyesii’ and the pungent purple of ‘Tuscany’, but surprisingly there are few depictions of roses. In Cumberland she was surrounded by family and friends who shared her enthusiasm for gardens, some of whom provided the inspiration for paintings, notably Helen Beguin for Helen’s Bunch in Helen’s Pot (p74) and Jessie Ivinson for Flowers from the Ivinsons’ Garden (p76).

22

Daffodils, 1978 Oil on canvas 46 x 50.5 cm Private Collection

23


Another source of stimulus was the arrival of the Chinese artist Li Yuan-chia who, with Winifred’s help, opened the LYC Museum and Art Gallery on the Banks, a short walk from Winifred’s house. Li, who was educated in Taiwan and had exhibited with the Signals gallery in London, was keen to help young artists. In the decade Li ran the gallery from 1972, he gave shows to many artists who later went on to make names for themselves, including Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash, James Hugonin, and Bill Woodrow. The emphasis was on a wider sense of creativity, with a whole room where children were encouraged to experiment and Kathleen Raine and Frances Horovitz gave poetry readings. While Winifred herself exhibited with Li four times, the stimulation she gained from monthly openings cannot be underestimated, for Winifred was always sympathetic to young artists and their experiments. She owned a multiple by the kinetic sculptor Takis, and Pam Twiss, who interviewed her for the Cumberland News in the early 1960s, remembers Winifred, who had just returned from America, enthusing about the Op Art she had seen in New York.50

Rainbow Arlots, c1969 Oil on canvas 40.6 x 50.8 cm

You think I can’t judge my work. I can much better than you think. I know when I am happy at heart and the pictures give a hop, skip and a jump that I never mention to them, but that they took on their own initiative.49

As before Winifred painted other areas in the county, notably Duddon Valley,51 where the luxurious viscosity of the paint gives the feeling the painting has only recently been completed (this, with The Sycamore, are the only two pictures in the exhibition not painted within the old boundaries of Cumberland).52 Moonlight, Pots Loan (p21) has a more intriguing genesis. It is the name of a very remote farm in the Spadeadam Waste, now surrounded by the banal and barren forestry of Kielder, which for a time had been farmed by Winifred’s first cousin, Michael Eden.53 The forestry planting and the late date of the picture suggests that the painting was not made in situ and is a sort of memory. Intriguingly, for a time Moonlight, Pots Loan was owned by Kathleen Raine, who returned it to Winifred because she felt it ‘was too wicked’!

However, these were minor distractions and it was not long before Winifred began painting the view from Bankshead looking towards the fells of the north Pennines. Although Winifred painted in many different rooms at Bankshead, latterly she mostly painted in the Sunroom, a room that was part of an extension built in 1930 (hence why she had not particularly painted this view in the 1920s) forming the highpoint of the house. The pictures made in this room tend to be easily recognisable because of the two lightly curved humps of the fells, Haltonlea on the left and Cold Fell on the right, as in Blackbirds in a Landscape (p72), though Winifred imaginatively varied her depictions of the fells. In Snowdrops and Aconites the more direct viewpoint only permits space for one arc, as the winter dawn gradually breaks behind Cold Fell. And in Bracken and Snowflake (p19) there is a hint of Tindale Fell, which sits in front of the higher Cold Fell, and, further to the right behind Tarnmonath Fell, a suggestion of sunshine trying to break through the swirling grey clouds, as the bracken fronds unfurl surrounded by a luscious green promising brighter days to come, all brought to sizzling point by a dash of pink magenta. Winifred also enjoyed laying out her garden which she had first begun in the 1920s, and filled it with a cherry tree, Victoria plums, a walnut and gean (wild cherry). There were dusky cranesbills, aconites, hellebores and daffodils – over ten different varieties – many of which made their way into paintings. She was particularly fond of her scented oldfashioned roses, which included ‘Celestial’, ‘Blush Damask’, ‘Alba Maxima’, ‘Old Velvet Moss’, ‘Belle de Crecy’, ‘Zephirine Drouhin’, ‘Ophelia’, ‘Moyesii’ and the pungent purple of ‘Tuscany’, but surprisingly there are few depictions of roses. In Cumberland she was surrounded by family and friends who shared her enthusiasm for gardens, some of whom provided the inspiration for paintings, notably Helen Beguin for Helen’s Bunch in Helen’s Pot (p74) and Jessie Ivinson for Flowers from the Ivinsons’ Garden (p76).

22

Daffodils, 1978 Oil on canvas 46 x 50.5 cm Private Collection

23


Winifred had met the poet Kathleen Raine at Helen Sutherland’s house in the Lake District in the late 1940s and together they travelled in the Hebrides during the 1950s, Winifred painting and Kathleen writing poetry. Kathleen later described their time together: ‘I knew her at work and value those times in retrospect as perhaps the happiest of my own life and the most productive’.54 For most of the 1960s she had rented Kathleen’s basement flat in London, and latterly Kathleen purchased Arlots, a cottage near the village of Hallbankgate, so as to be close to Winifred.55 Kathleen spent about a third of her time at what she called her ‘Mousehole’ and it was where she wrote her autobiography. Not surprisingly, considering how closely they had worked together in the Hebrides during the 1950s, Winifred made at least two paintings from Kathleen’s cottage. One of these, Rainbow Arlots (p22), in many ways prefigures the ideas that were to preoccupy Winifred for the last few years of her life.56 Winifred had always been interested in rainbows and the way that prisms divide up light. Looking through a prism she found out what flowers know, how to divide the colours as prisms do, into longer and shorter wavelengths, and in so doing giving the luminosity and brilliance of pure colour – in the ordered sequence of the octave of colour.57 The prismatic paintings that she painted in the last few years of her life were a remarkable, and at times unexpected, development, and were extremely important to her. It would have been easy for Winifred to have kept painting in much the same manner, but throughout her career she consistently experimented and was always interested in new ideas. The prismatic paintings were made by looking intently through a prism at an object, which would then be rimmed in rainbow colours, colours which

could be broken up and moved to bring out the full brightness and luminosity she was searching for. These works were mostly paintings, but there are a few works on paper, some verging on the abstract, that are surprisingly free and unconfined. Winifred had always been interested in what she called the opposition of light and dark, an interest depicted in the Salpiglossis paintings which are amongst some of the last works she made. Winifred had been to see the artist Donald Wilkinson and his wife Shirley, who Winifred had met through the LYC Museum and Art Gallery and had come to live on the Banks, and asked to borrow the grey pot with the Salpiglossis. In September Salpiglossis (p86) the tray’s rim is bathed in a luxurious deep blue, a pink magenta hovering round the grey pot. By the time she came to paint Salpiglossis Dark (p87) the flowers had begun to droop and the fiery colours of the tray have become hemmed in by the deep night evident though the window.58

Netherby Daffodils, 1979 Oil on canvas 60.6 x 44.5 cm Private Collection

Accord (p92) is one of the most daring, bold and adventurous of Winifred’s prismatic paintings. Here we recognise the familiar view with the arc of Cold Fell, framed on the right by a drooping silver birch, with a garden plum tree behind the left hand bottle. But it is the radical way that the various colours of the rainbow have been broken up and rearranged that is so startling and adventurous, while the two glass bottles, unusual perhaps for not holding flowers, are engaged in a friendly conversation suggesting a melodious harmony that gives the work its title.59

Rainbow (plant pots), 1980 Oil on canvas 48.2 x 57.8 cm Private Collection

24

Seen as a whole the paintings that Winifred Nicholson made in Cumberland form a remarkable body of work that make up the nucleus of her creativity. While many English artists have been associated with a particular locus, there are few attachments that have stretched over 70 years and been so wide ranging or comprehensive. Winifred’s paintings have a freshness, spontaneity and openness underpinned by the natural warmth of her character, and can be read not just as views, but in the more intangible sense of a window opening onto a sunlit morning of endless opportunities. Many of the views she depicted have hardly changed or altered to this day and this gives her paintings part of their unique appeal; in addition to the wonderful colour harmonies she creates, which are essentially life enhancing and uplifting, there is a quality of timelessness about her art that more than hints at the eternality of nature. In the foreword to her retrospective exhibition in 1979 Winifred wrote, ‘I would like to thank all those people who have helped to open my eyes… But most of all to the wild flowers of Cumberland … who have blossomed before my eyes and inspired me, whether they knew it or whether they did not'.60

25


Winifred had met the poet Kathleen Raine at Helen Sutherland’s house in the Lake District in the late 1940s and together they travelled in the Hebrides during the 1950s, Winifred painting and Kathleen writing poetry. Kathleen later described their time together: ‘I knew her at work and value those times in retrospect as perhaps the happiest of my own life and the most productive’.54 For most of the 1960s she had rented Kathleen’s basement flat in London, and latterly Kathleen purchased Arlots, a cottage near the village of Hallbankgate, so as to be close to Winifred.55 Kathleen spent about a third of her time at what she called her ‘Mousehole’ and it was where she wrote her autobiography. Not surprisingly, considering how closely they had worked together in the Hebrides during the 1950s, Winifred made at least two paintings from Kathleen’s cottage. One of these, Rainbow Arlots (p22), in many ways prefigures the ideas that were to preoccupy Winifred for the last few years of her life.56 Winifred had always been interested in rainbows and the way that prisms divide up light. Looking through a prism she found out what flowers know, how to divide the colours as prisms do, into longer and shorter wavelengths, and in so doing giving the luminosity and brilliance of pure colour – in the ordered sequence of the octave of colour.57 The prismatic paintings that she painted in the last few years of her life were a remarkable, and at times unexpected, development, and were extremely important to her. It would have been easy for Winifred to have kept painting in much the same manner, but throughout her career she consistently experimented and was always interested in new ideas. The prismatic paintings were made by looking intently through a prism at an object, which would then be rimmed in rainbow colours, colours which

could be broken up and moved to bring out the full brightness and luminosity she was searching for. These works were mostly paintings, but there are a few works on paper, some verging on the abstract, that are surprisingly free and unconfined. Winifred had always been interested in what she called the opposition of light and dark, an interest depicted in the Salpiglossis paintings which are amongst some of the last works she made. Winifred had been to see the artist Donald Wilkinson and his wife Shirley, who Winifred had met through the LYC Museum and Art Gallery and had come to live on the Banks, and asked to borrow the grey pot with the Salpiglossis. In September Salpiglossis (p86) the tray’s rim is bathed in a luxurious deep blue, a pink magenta hovering round the grey pot. By the time she came to paint Salpiglossis Dark (p87) the flowers had begun to droop and the fiery colours of the tray have become hemmed in by the deep night evident though the window.58

Netherby Daffodils, 1979 Oil on canvas 60.6 x 44.5 cm Private Collection

Accord (p92) is one of the most daring, bold and adventurous of Winifred’s prismatic paintings. Here we recognise the familiar view with the arc of Cold Fell, framed on the right by a drooping silver birch, with a garden plum tree behind the left hand bottle. But it is the radical way that the various colours of the rainbow have been broken up and rearranged that is so startling and adventurous, while the two glass bottles, unusual perhaps for not holding flowers, are engaged in a friendly conversation suggesting a melodious harmony that gives the work its title.59

Rainbow (plant pots), 1980 Oil on canvas 48.2 x 57.8 cm Private Collection

24

Seen as a whole the paintings that Winifred Nicholson made in Cumberland form a remarkable body of work that make up the nucleus of her creativity. While many English artists have been associated with a particular locus, there are few attachments that have stretched over 70 years and been so wide ranging or comprehensive. Winifred’s paintings have a freshness, spontaneity and openness underpinned by the natural warmth of her character, and can be read not just as views, but in the more intangible sense of a window opening onto a sunlit morning of endless opportunities. Many of the views she depicted have hardly changed or altered to this day and this gives her paintings part of their unique appeal; in addition to the wonderful colour harmonies she creates, which are essentially life enhancing and uplifting, there is a quality of timelessness about her art that more than hints at the eternality of nature. In the foreword to her retrospective exhibition in 1979 Winifred wrote, ‘I would like to thank all those people who have helped to open my eyes… But most of all to the wild flowers of Cumberland … who have blossomed before my eyes and inspired me, whether they knew it or whether they did not'.60

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The Dacre Beasts, c1910 Watercolour on paper 35 x 23 cm Ophelia Gia Appleby The Dacre Beasts were commissioned by Lord Dacre for Naworth Castle, who fought with Henry Tudor against Richard III at Bosworth Field when he was 22 and at Flodden in 1513. The red bull was Dacre’s crest; the crowned salmon that of Elizabeth de Greystoke with whom Dacre eloped in 1488; the black gryphon belonged to his ancestor Ranulph de Dacres, who build Naworth in 1335; and the white ram to Ranulph’s wife, Margaret de Moulton. Lord Dacre died in 1525. In the 1930s when Winifred needed to use a different name so as to distinguish her abstract paintings from those of her husband’s, rather than choose her maiden name Roberts, or her mother’s maiden name Howard, she settled on Dacre.

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George Howard The Dacre Bull, Naworth Great Hall Watercolour on paper 45 x 31cm Private Collection

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The Dacre Beasts, c1910 Watercolour on paper 35 x 23 cm Ophelia Gia Appleby The Dacre Beasts were commissioned by Lord Dacre for Naworth Castle, who fought with Henry Tudor against Richard III at Bosworth Field when he was 22 and at Flodden in 1513. The red bull was Dacre’s crest; the crowned salmon that of Elizabeth de Greystoke with whom Dacre eloped in 1488; the black gryphon belonged to his ancestor Ranulph de Dacres, who build Naworth in 1335; and the white ram to Ranulph’s wife, Margaret de Moulton. Lord Dacre died in 1525. In the 1930s when Winifred needed to use a different name so as to distinguish her abstract paintings from those of her husband’s, rather than choose her maiden name Roberts, or her mother’s maiden name Howard, she settled on Dacre.

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George Howard The Dacre Bull, Naworth Great Hall Watercolour on paper 45 x 31cm Private Collection

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Craighill, 1922 Watercolour and ink on paper 25 x 35 cm Private Collection In the summer of 1921 Winifred experimented with coloured inks. ‘Craighill’ was made working side by side with Ben; Winifred later related how he encouraged her not to colour in completely everything in her picture, which was a radical departure from her Pre-Raphaelite heritage.

The Sycamore, c1922 Oil on canvas 76.2 x 60.9 Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery The Sycamore was painted while Winifred was staying at Mallerstang, near Kirkby Stephen on a painting trip with Ben and Winifred’s friend, EJ Jenkinson, know as Eejay.

Would you like Westmorland yourself? It is fun to go to a place where everything is good to do, and where you don’t have to hunt about, don’t you think? Kirkby Stephen looks wonderful from the railway. Winifred Nicholson Letter to EJ Jenkinson, 12 May 1922 (Private Collection) It was a good time at Mallerstang. I think lots about it, and how nice it was of you to give it us. Winifred Nicholson Letter to EJ Jenkinson, undated (Private Collection)

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Craighill, 1922 Watercolour and ink on paper 25 x 35 cm Private Collection In the summer of 1921 Winifred experimented with coloured inks. ‘Craighill’ was made working side by side with Ben; Winifred later related how he encouraged her not to colour in completely everything in her picture, which was a radical departure from her Pre-Raphaelite heritage.

The Sycamore, c1922 Oil on canvas 76.2 x 60.9 Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery The Sycamore was painted while Winifred was staying at Mallerstang, near Kirkby Stephen on a painting trip with Ben and Winifred’s friend, EJ Jenkinson, know as Eejay.

Would you like Westmorland yourself? It is fun to go to a place where everything is good to do, and where you don’t have to hunt about, don’t you think? Kirkby Stephen looks wonderful from the railway. Winifred Nicholson Letter to EJ Jenkinson, 12 May 1922 (Private Collection) It was a good time at Mallerstang. I think lots about it, and how nice it was of you to give it us. Winifred Nicholson Letter to EJ Jenkinson, undated (Private Collection)

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The Swaites, c1923 Oil on canvas 56 x 76 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

Ben Nicholson The Swaites, c1928 Oil on canvas 52.1 x 76.2 cm Private Collection

The days are so long and lovely one hardly goes to bed. The ashes are very pale and only just out, the air is fragrant and ethereally clear, and so still that any movement would break it like spun glass. The only sounds are the mating cry of the curlews. The earth is covered with sunlight and flowers, and so still and translucent like water. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby, 19 June 1925 (TGA 8717.1.1.1701)

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The Swaites, c1923 Oil on canvas 56 x 76 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

Ben Nicholson The Swaites, c1928 Oil on canvas 52.1 x 76.2 cm Private Collection

The days are so long and lovely one hardly goes to bed. The ashes are very pale and only just out, the air is fragrant and ethereally clear, and so still that any movement would break it like spun glass. The only sounds are the mating cry of the curlews. The earth is covered with sunlight and flowers, and so still and translucent like water. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby, 19 June 1925 (TGA 8717.1.1.1701)

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Cumberland Landscape, c1926 Oil on canvas 50.8 x 61 cm On loan to Pallant House Gallery Private Collection

It’s lovely here – I’ve been picking blackberries all the morning, and mushrooms, the mushrooms for old sake’s sake, for they have the consistency of very very old people’s cheeks. The blackberries are luscious and shiny and sweet, and so many of them, there are more than all the thrushes and robins and squirrels and bramble jelly makers and little weevils, can possibly think of. There is glittering sunshine and limpid rain in the sky, the plaything of the wind, which rushes it about and leaves it in the end in the grass, and shiny amongst the sheep’s scabious and cow dung. All the wet earth smells so fragrant. The ferns are turning tawny, and the hedges are sparse and full of berries. The wind blows right through your body. Winifred Nicholson Letter to EJ Jenkinson from Bankshead, [1925], Unknown Colour, p67

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Cumberland Landscape, c1926 Oil on canvas 50.8 x 61 cm On loan to Pallant House Gallery Private Collection

It’s lovely here – I’ve been picking blackberries all the morning, and mushrooms, the mushrooms for old sake’s sake, for they have the consistency of very very old people’s cheeks. The blackberries are luscious and shiny and sweet, and so many of them, there are more than all the thrushes and robins and squirrels and bramble jelly makers and little weevils, can possibly think of. There is glittering sunshine and limpid rain in the sky, the plaything of the wind, which rushes it about and leaves it in the end in the grass, and shiny amongst the sheep’s scabious and cow dung. All the wet earth smells so fragrant. The ferns are turning tawny, and the hedges are sparse and full of berries. The wind blows right through your body. Winifred Nicholson Letter to EJ Jenkinson from Bankshead, [1925], Unknown Colour, p67

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Black Cattle,1920s Oil on canvas 61 x 76 cm Private Collection

Northrigg Hill, c1926 Oil on canvas 44 x 84 cm Private Collection

I don’t want anything in the world – I just like existing every minute, and watching things coming and things going, and then coming again, like storms and sunshine and then storms again. I don’t want anything at all for the simple reason that I have everything, or rather, which is the same thing, everything has me… Winifred Nicholson Letter to EJ Jenkinson from Bankshead, [1925], Unknown Colour, p67

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Black Cattle,1920s Oil on canvas 61 x 76 cm Private Collection

Northrigg Hill, c1926 Oil on canvas 44 x 84 cm Private Collection

I don’t want anything in the world – I just like existing every minute, and watching things coming and things going, and then coming again, like storms and sunshine and then storms again. I don’t want anything at all for the simple reason that I have everything, or rather, which is the same thing, everything has me… Winifred Nicholson Letter to EJ Jenkinson from Bankshead, [1925], Unknown Colour, p67

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Flower Table: Pots, c1927 Oil on canvas 65 x 85.1 cm Private Collection

To us to say that a thing was Modern was to say that it was ‘good’, sweeping away Victorian, Edwardian, Old Theology, Old Tory views. In the new world there would be no slums, no unnecessary palm trees, no false ornament – but clarity, white walls, simplicity – complete and satisfying. Winifred Nicholson 'Moments of Light', Unknown Colour, p41

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Flower Table No 4, c1927 Oil on canvas 76.2 x 60.9 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

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Flower Table: Pots, c1927 Oil on canvas 65 x 85.1 cm Private Collection

To us to say that a thing was Modern was to say that it was ‘good’, sweeping away Victorian, Edwardian, Old Theology, Old Tory views. In the new world there would be no slums, no unnecessary palm trees, no false ornament – but clarity, white walls, simplicity – complete and satisfying. Winifred Nicholson 'Moments of Light', Unknown Colour, p41

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Flower Table No 4, c1927 Oil on canvas 76.2 x 60.9 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

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Starry Eyed, 1927 Oil on rough canvas 71.1 x 55.9 cm Private Collection Starry Eyed depicts Winifred’s husband, Ben Nicholson, with their first child Jake, born in 1927.They went on to have two more children together, Kate, (born 1929) and Andrew (born 1931). The rapt expression on her husband’s face and the title express the excitement and joy of a father holding his first child shortly after his birth.

Fire and Water, 1927 Oil on canvas 68 x 56 cm Private Collection

Banks Head’s Altar was its hearth. Within its thick stone walls its fire held its comfort, its glow, its warmth – the fireplace was an open one with an oven on one side and a tank to hold water on the other, an arm to hang a kettle over the open blaze – on this I cooked with joy. Winifred Nicholson 'Moments of Lights', Unknown Colour, p43

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Starry Eyed, 1927 Oil on rough canvas 71.1 x 55.9 cm Private Collection Starry Eyed depicts Winifred’s husband, Ben Nicholson, with their first child Jake, born in 1927.They went on to have two more children together, Kate, (born 1929) and Andrew (born 1931). The rapt expression on her husband’s face and the title express the excitement and joy of a father holding his first child shortly after his birth.

Fire and Water, 1927 Oil on canvas 68 x 56 cm Private Collection

Banks Head’s Altar was its hearth. Within its thick stone walls its fire held its comfort, its glow, its warmth – the fireplace was an open one with an oven on one side and a tank to hold water on the other, an arm to hang a kettle over the open blaze – on this I cooked with joy. Winifred Nicholson 'Moments of Lights', Unknown Colour, p43

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Bankshead Flowers in an Alabaster Vase, c1928 Oil on canvas 56 x 45 cm Private Collection, on loan to Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Any true colour picture gives out light like a lamp. In twilight it looks like a luminosity – in a better light the difference in the colours begins to tell, and they grow more and more distinct, markedly individual, as the light intensifies, to fall back again into a luminosity, a glow if the light wanes. Winifred Nicholson 'Unknown Colour', Unknown Colour, p101

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Bankshead Flowers in an Alabaster Vase, c1928 Oil on canvas 56 x 45 cm Private Collection, on loan to Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Any true colour picture gives out light like a lamp. In twilight it looks like a luminosity – in a better light the difference in the colours begins to tell, and they grow more and more distinct, markedly individual, as the light intensifies, to fall back again into a luminosity, a glow if the light wanes. Winifred Nicholson 'Unknown Colour', Unknown Colour, p101

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Nursery Bunch, c1927 Oil on board 37 x 38 cm The Dartington Hall Trust

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Bathtime, c1934 Oil on board 64.8 x 79.4 cm Private Collection, on loan to Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle

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Nursery Bunch, c1927 Oil on board 37 x 38 cm The Dartington Hall Trust

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Bathtime, c1934 Oil on board 64.8 x 79.4 cm Private Collection, on loan to Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle

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Windflowers, 1934 Oil on board 33 x 36cm Private Collection

Campanulas, c1935 Oil on board 50.8 x 40 Private Collection

Dearest EJ, …. Your garden sounds charming, but it is too late to plant seeds. They should be planted in February in the south, in March in Cumberland… Will you be there in the autumn? If so you could plant roots of dahlias now for flowering in September – also roots of pansies, petunias, night-scented stock, tobacco plant, nemesia, pinks, carnations, stocks – nasturtiums where nothing else looks as if it would grow – and you will probably find all sorts of amusing plants that we don’t know. Winifred Nicholson Letter to EJ Jenkinson, May 1927, Unknown Colour, p69

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Windflowers, 1934 Oil on board 33 x 36cm Private Collection

Campanulas, c1935 Oil on board 50.8 x 40 Private Collection

Dearest EJ, …. Your garden sounds charming, but it is too late to plant seeds. They should be planted in February in the south, in March in Cumberland… Will you be there in the autumn? If so you could plant roots of dahlias now for flowering in September – also roots of pansies, petunias, night-scented stock, tobacco plant, nemesia, pinks, carnations, stocks – nasturtiums where nothing else looks as if it would grow – and you will probably find all sorts of amusing plants that we don’t know. Winifred Nicholson Letter to EJ Jenkinson, May 1927, Unknown Colour, p69

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Flowers from Walton Moss, c1945 Oil on board 36 x 28 cm Private Collection

Calees, c1954 Oil on canvas 53.3 x 76.2 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

Walton Moss is an upland peat bog located north west of the village of Walton.

With colour we can say by analogy with human feeling the type of territory of the human spirit to which we are taken by colour – and very roughly, for we are the beginning of our investigations – we know that these will not be intellectual, for colour is not intellectual. Winifred Nicholson 'Unknown Colour', Unknown Colour, p102

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Flowers from Walton Moss, c1945 Oil on board 36 x 28 cm Private Collection

Calees, c1954 Oil on canvas 53.3 x 76.2 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

Walton Moss is an upland peat bog located north west of the village of Walton.

With colour we can say by analogy with human feeling the type of territory of the human spirit to which we are taken by colour – and very roughly, for we are the beginning of our investigations – we know that these will not be intellectual, for colour is not intellectual. Winifred Nicholson 'Unknown Colour', Unknown Colour, p102

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Boothby Hyacinths, c1950 Oil on canvas 40.7 x 48.3 cm Private Collection

Candlemas I, 1951 Oil on canvas 61 x 61 cm Private Collection

My house is full of Roman hyacinth white against the snow outside and purple iris dark against the shadows of the sleeping garden. It’s silent and lonely - except for the faint crackle of the logs burning in the fireplace. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead 1969 (TGA 8717.1.1.1916)

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Boothby Hyacinths, c1950 Oil on canvas 40.7 x 48.3 cm Private Collection

Candlemas I, 1951 Oil on canvas 61 x 61 cm Private Collection

My house is full of Roman hyacinth white against the snow outside and purple iris dark against the shadows of the sleeping garden. It’s silent and lonely - except for the faint crackle of the logs burning in the fireplace. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead 1969 (TGA 8717.1.1.1916)

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Evening at Boothby, 1953 Oil on canvas 50.5 x 60.6 cm Laing Art Gallery

Cumberland Flowers, 1946 Oil on board 43.8 x 48.3 cm Private Collection, c/o Richard Green Gallery, London

It is only in the clearest, most unclouded light of the sun that you can see the greatest attenuation and differences of hue. The same yellow is quite a different colour on a clear grey day than it is on a day of Mediterranean sunshine. So, the scale of colour is held within the fullness of sunlight, which is forever breaking apart, revealing its diverse hues, contrasts and affinities and then closing again upon this scale in the oneness of white light. Winifred Nicholson 'Unknown Colour', Unknown Colour, p101

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Evening at Boothby, 1953 Oil on canvas 50.5 x 60.6 cm Laing Art Gallery

Cumberland Flowers, 1946 Oil on board 43.8 x 48.3 cm Private Collection, c/o Richard Green Gallery, London

It is only in the clearest, most unclouded light of the sun that you can see the greatest attenuation and differences of hue. The same yellow is quite a different colour on a clear grey day than it is on a day of Mediterranean sunshine. So, the scale of colour is held within the fullness of sunlight, which is forever breaking apart, revealing its diverse hues, contrasts and affinities and then closing again upon this scale in the oneness of white light. Winifred Nicholson 'Unknown Colour', Unknown Colour, p101

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Netherton, 1940s Oil on board 59.7 x 73.4 cm Private Collection, on loan to mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art Netherton Farm lies on the road between Brampton and Castle Carrock. Winifred was clearly intrigued by the way the house faces sideways to the road, yet still catches the eye and the march of the farm buildings rise up the hill. It is easy now to forget just how rural north east Cumberland was during Winifred’s lifetime. The majority of roads were not tarmacked until the 1950s, and nor were tractors a regular feature until the mid 1950s. Bankshead had no electricity until 1957, and even in the 1970s it was often difficult to ring London because the telephones lines south were busy. Winifred painted only a handful of paintings of farms. Regrettably Netherton has recently been irredeemably changed by developers.

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Netherton, 1940s Oil on board 59.7 x 73.4 cm Private Collection, on loan to mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art Netherton Farm lies on the road between Brampton and Castle Carrock. Winifred was clearly intrigued by the way the house faces sideways to the road, yet still catches the eye and the march of the farm buildings rise up the hill. It is easy now to forget just how rural north east Cumberland was during Winifred’s lifetime. The majority of roads were not tarmacked until the 1950s, and nor were tractors a regular feature until the mid 1950s. Bankshead had no electricity until 1957, and even in the 1970s it was often difficult to ring London because the telephones lines south were busy. Winifred painted only a handful of paintings of farms. Regrettably Netherton has recently been irredeemably changed by developers.

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Long Meg and Her Daughters, 1940s Oil on canvas 45.7 x 60.9 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

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The River Eden, 1959 Oil on hardboard 57 x 67 cm Private Collection

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Long Meg and Her Daughters, 1940s Oil on canvas 45.7 x 60.9 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

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The River Eden, 1959 Oil on hardboard 57 x 67 cm Private Collection

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Daffodils and Pewter Jug, 1953 Oil on canvas 50.8 x 60.8 cm Private Collection

You know how much I like buds, the beginnings of things, with all the promise to come implied, but not yet stated. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, 6 October 1963 (TGA 8717.1.1.1896)

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Daffodils and Pewter Jug, 1953 Oil on canvas 50.8 x 60.8 cm Private Collection

You know how much I like buds, the beginnings of things, with all the promise to come implied, but not yet stated. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, 6 October 1963 (TGA 8717.1.1.1896)

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Cockley Moor, c1948 Oil on canvas 44.4 x 54.7 cm Museums Sheffield

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Borrowdale, c1950 Oil on canvas 56 x 76 cm Private Collection

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Cockley Moor, c1948 Oil on canvas 44.4 x 54.7 cm Museums Sheffield

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Borrowdale, c1950 Oil on canvas 56 x 76 cm Private Collection

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Sheep at St Bees Head, 1957 Oil on canvas 60.9 x 76.2 cm Private Collection

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Lily of the Valley, St. Bees, 1940s Oil on canvas 70 x 70 cm Private Collection

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Sheep at St Bees Head, 1957 Oil on canvas 60.9 x 76.2 cm Private Collection

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Lily of the Valley, St. Bees, 1940s Oil on canvas 70 x 70 cm Private Collection

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Cranesbill, St. Bees, late 1940s Oil on canvas 59.7 x 59.7 cm Private Collection

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Cranesbill, St. Bees, late 1940s Oil on canvas 59.7 x 59.7 cm Private Collection

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Ullswater, c1949 Oil on canvas 63.5 x 82 cm Private Collection

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Ullswater, 1940s Oil on canvas 60.9 x 60.9 cm Private Collection

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Ullswater, c1949 Oil on canvas 63.5 x 82 cm Private Collection

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Ullswater, 1940s Oil on canvas 60.9 x 60.9 cm Private Collection

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Cumberland Hills, 1948 Oil on wood 47 x 45.6 cm Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London

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Cumberland Hills, 1948 Oil on wood 47 x 45.6 cm Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London

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Animal Squares, 1960s Designed by Winifred Nicholson, made by Florence Williams Hooky Rug 150 x 90 cm Private Collection

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Animal Squares, 1960s Designed by Winifred Nicholson, made by Florence Williams Hooky Rug 150 x 90 cm Private Collection

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Spring Festivity, 1966 Oil and pencil on board 36 x 83.5 cm Private Collection Blackbirds in a Landscape, c1970 Oil and silver spray paint on board 50.8 x 71.1 cm Private Collection, on loan to mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

My garden is lovely now with the fragrance of the old roses, honeysuckle,lilies and different herbs, mace, tarragon, rosemary, some warblers have taken up residence and so has a great blackbird and his family, in consequence there are no slugs. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Kathleen Raine, Bankshead, 1960s (British Library)

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Yesterday I was aware of the gulf of mist between me and the great hills. I was also aware of dusky brown versus slaty green-grey, and of some concrete objects nearby. I had no idea how I was going to amalgamate these things, but the room was quiet and before I had time to think a picture had been painted. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Andy Christian, late 1970s, Unknown Colour, p243 I must start painting because the rain has stopped and the sun has come out. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead, 24 July 1965 (TGA 8717.1.1.1900A)

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Spring Festivity, 1966 Oil and pencil on board 36 x 83.5 cm Private Collection Blackbirds in a Landscape, c1970 Oil and silver spray paint on board 50.8 x 71.1 cm Private Collection, on loan to mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

My garden is lovely now with the fragrance of the old roses, honeysuckle,lilies and different herbs, mace, tarragon, rosemary, some warblers have taken up residence and so has a great blackbird and his family, in consequence there are no slugs. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Kathleen Raine, Bankshead, 1960s (British Library)

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Yesterday I was aware of the gulf of mist between me and the great hills. I was also aware of dusky brown versus slaty green-grey, and of some concrete objects nearby. I had no idea how I was going to amalgamate these things, but the room was quiet and before I had time to think a picture had been painted. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Andy Christian, late 1970s, Unknown Colour, p243 I must start painting because the rain has stopped and the sun has come out. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead, 24 July 1965 (TGA 8717.1.1.1900A)

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Helen’s Bunch in Helen’s Pot, 1974 Oil on 40 x 50 cm Private Collection Helen Beguin was a keen gardener and friend of Winifred’s. Originally Charles Roberts’ secretary, latterly she lived at the Chris House, Boothby, where she enjoyed her garden and made pots, many of which Winifred owned. Helen had a keen eye and fine collection of Winifred’s paintings, including ‘Candlemas I’. Winifred was a keen supporter of crafts, as happy depicting pots by well known potters such as Hans Coper, Lucie Rie or William Staite Murray as modest pots by her friends.

Snowdrops in Winter, Bankshead, c1969 Oil on canvas 58 x 74cm Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University

There is a shimmer of snow on Tindale and a scatter of snowdrops everywhere – white foggy mist has lifted but will come down soon. I love my loneliness up here on this hillside. Not that I have not friends up here, but no one to talk to, not about anything that is worth talking about … I enjoy their company but they do not notice the painting on the wall, nor that I have hung up the one I have just finished – if they did notice it, they would not distinguish it from the last one or the one before that. I don’t find I need, nowadays, other people’s eyes to inspire me, do you? I am not sure. All I need are the expression on the face of a crocus or on the face of the crescent moon waking me up looking in at my window – out of the mist and frost. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead, March 1971, Unknown Colour, pp190-1 I’ve been painting a lot these frosty snowdrops days, candle flicker and storm clouds. I don’t want to come to London but I suppose I must work at my exhibition. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Kathleen Raine, Bankshead, undated (British Library)

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Helen’s Bunch in Helen’s Pot, 1974 Oil on 40 x 50 cm Private Collection Helen Beguin was a keen gardener and friend of Winifred’s. Originally Charles Roberts’ secretary, latterly she lived at the Chris House, Boothby, where she enjoyed her garden and made pots, many of which Winifred owned. Helen had a keen eye and fine collection of Winifred’s paintings, including ‘Candlemas I’. Winifred was a keen supporter of crafts, as happy depicting pots by well known potters such as Hans Coper, Lucie Rie or William Staite Murray as modest pots by her friends.

Snowdrops in Winter, Bankshead, c1969 Oil on canvas 58 x 74cm Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University

There is a shimmer of snow on Tindale and a scatter of snowdrops everywhere – white foggy mist has lifted but will come down soon. I love my loneliness up here on this hillside. Not that I have not friends up here, but no one to talk to, not about anything that is worth talking about … I enjoy their company but they do not notice the painting on the wall, nor that I have hung up the one I have just finished – if they did notice it, they would not distinguish it from the last one or the one before that. I don’t find I need, nowadays, other people’s eyes to inspire me, do you? I am not sure. All I need are the expression on the face of a crocus or on the face of the crescent moon waking me up looking in at my window – out of the mist and frost. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead, March 1971, Unknown Colour, pp190-1 I’ve been painting a lot these frosty snowdrops days, candle flicker and storm clouds. I don’t want to come to London but I suppose I must work at my exhibition. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Kathleen Raine, Bankshead, undated (British Library)

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Narcissi, 1979 Oil on board 61 x 61 cm Graham Ross

Bunch from the Ivinsons’ Garden, 1971 Oil on board 60.9 x 50.8 cm gouldenandthomas.co.uk

I have planted the daffodils with great care and I’m looking forward very much to a host fluttering in the breeze as yours do. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Kathleen Raine, Bankshead, undated (British Library)

Tom and Jessie Ivinson were neighbours of Winifred Nicholson in Cumberland. Dairy famers they were keen gardeners and Jessie in particular liked sweet peas. Jessie Ivinson often gave Winifred flowers from her garden, gladioli and sweet peas, and Winifred gave her bouquets of her old fashioned French roses. Bunch from the Ivinsons’ Garden was painted in Winifred’s dining room, with the diffused sunlight coming through the double windows and the sweet peas sitting on a red and orange striped oil cloth.

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Narcissi, 1979 Oil on board 61 x 61 cm Graham Ross

Bunch from the Ivinsons’ Garden, 1971 Oil on board 60.9 x 50.8 cm gouldenandthomas.co.uk

I have planted the daffodils with great care and I’m looking forward very much to a host fluttering in the breeze as yours do. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Kathleen Raine, Bankshead, undated (British Library)

Tom and Jessie Ivinson were neighbours of Winifred Nicholson in Cumberland. Dairy famers they were keen gardeners and Jessie in particular liked sweet peas. Jessie Ivinson often gave Winifred flowers from her garden, gladioli and sweet peas, and Winifred gave her bouquets of her old fashioned French roses. Bunch from the Ivinsons’ Garden was painted in Winifred’s dining room, with the diffused sunlight coming through the double windows and the sweet peas sitting on a red and orange striped oil cloth.

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Snowy Dance, 1970s Oil on canvas 50.8 x 76.2 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

It’s good to paint in the winter isn’t it. I like the sideways light. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby c1956 (TGA 8717.1.1.1863)

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Snowy Dance, 1970s Oil on canvas 50.8 x 76.2 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

It’s good to paint in the winter isn’t it. I like the sideways light. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby c1956 (TGA 8717.1.1.1863)

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Duddon Valley, 1974 Oil on canvas 33 x 46 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

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Duddon Valley, 1974 Oil on canvas 33 x 46 cm Private Collection c/o Crane Kalman Gallery

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Triumphant Triangles, 1970s Oil on board 58 x 58 cm Private Collection

I have been having a prolonged struggle with myself because myself refused to do realistic, but I am starting another abstract one which will be fun. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Jake Nicholson, c1953 (TGA 201022/1/49/148)

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Triumphant Triangles, 1970s Oil on board 58 x 58 cm Private Collection

I have been having a prolonged struggle with myself because myself refused to do realistic, but I am starting another abstract one which will be fun. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Jake Nicholson, c1953 (TGA 201022/1/49/148)

82

83


Christmas Cactus, 1979 Oil on board 46 x 56 cm Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University'

The world is white, deep snow, the sky is deep blue, the mountain old Man Tindale is blinking sleepy eyes of silver blue white, and I would like to be a squirrel and sleep until my flowers come out from deep under the snow. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead, late 1970s (TGA 8717.1.1.1923)

84

85


Christmas Cactus, 1979 Oil on board 46 x 56 cm Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University'

The world is white, deep snow, the sky is deep blue, the mountain old Man Tindale is blinking sleepy eyes of silver blue white, and I would like to be a squirrel and sleep until my flowers come out from deep under the snow. Winifred Nicholson Letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead, late 1970s (TGA 8717.1.1.1923)

84

85


Salpiglossis Dark, 1980 Oil on card 43 x 59 cm Private Collection September Salpiglossis, 1980 Oil on paper 47.6 x 34.3 cm Private Collection

86

87


Salpiglossis Dark, 1980 Oil on card 43 x 59 cm Private Collection September Salpiglossis, 1980 Oil on paper 47.6 x 34.3 cm Private Collection

86

87


Prismatic Abstract, late 1970s Mixed media on paper 30 x 42 cm Private Collection

Colour has not form and cannot be calculated, so they [artists] try to hold it down on the top of form. Winifred Nicholson ‘Radiance in the Grass’, Unknown Colour, p73

88

Yellow Circle, Starfishes and Seahorses, late 1970s Mixed media on paper 30 x 42 cm Private Collection

Colour is one of the surest ways of expressing joy. Winifred Nicholson ‘I Like To Have A Picture In My Room’, Unknown Colour, p234

89


Prismatic Abstract, late 1970s Mixed media on paper 30 x 42 cm Private Collection

Colour has not form and cannot be calculated, so they [artists] try to hold it down on the top of form. Winifred Nicholson ‘Radiance in the Grass’, Unknown Colour, p73

88

Yellow Circle, Starfishes and Seahorses, late 1970s Mixed media on paper 30 x 42 cm Private Collection

Colour is one of the surest ways of expressing joy. Winifred Nicholson ‘I Like To Have A Picture In My Room’, Unknown Colour, p234

89


Rainbow with Movement, late 1970s Mixed media on paper 56 x 78 cm Private Collection

Colour… has a magic scale which we do not as easily compass for it changes as rapidly as life itself, and as surprisingly – the sevenfold scale of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet – which of us senses green as a stage further towards the mystery of violet, than orange? Which of us knows that no sunlight can be expressed without a hint of the mystery of violet? Which of us can see the colour that’s in the spectrum and the rainbow, beyond violet, beyond magenta? – the colour that we cannot see but has power, the colour that bees can see, and singing birds – the ultraviolet that has chemical meaning, undiscovered as yet artistic vibration. Winifred Nicholson ‘Unknown Colour’, Unknown Colour, p251

90

91


Rainbow with Movement, late 1970s Mixed media on paper 56 x 78 cm Private Collection

Colour… has a magic scale which we do not as easily compass for it changes as rapidly as life itself, and as surprisingly – the sevenfold scale of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet – which of us senses green as a stage further towards the mystery of violet, than orange? Which of us knows that no sunlight can be expressed without a hint of the mystery of violet? Which of us can see the colour that’s in the spectrum and the rainbow, beyond violet, beyond magenta? – the colour that we cannot see but has power, the colour that bees can see, and singing birds – the ultraviolet that has chemical meaning, undiscovered as yet artistic vibration. Winifred Nicholson ‘Unknown Colour’, Unknown Colour, p251

90

91


Accord, 1978 Oil on canvas 61 x 75 cm Private Collection

With colour we can say by analogy with human feeling the type of territory of the human spirit to which we are taken by colour – and very roughly, for we are the beginning of our investigations – we know that these will not be intellectual, for colour is not intellectual. Winifred Nicholson ‘Unknown Colour’, Unknown Colour, p102 There is a great deal waiting to be painted, and may roads to voyage. I will leave it to you to paint new colour pictures for yourself. I hope I have obliterated for you for ever the old conception that colour must be a slave to form and must be tacked down on to objects.I hope I have shown you that colour is the vital power out of which forms, objects, images, thoughts themselves, can be created. Winifred Nicholson ‘Liberation of Colour’, Unknown Colour, p129

92

93


Accord, 1978 Oil on canvas 61 x 75 cm Private Collection

With colour we can say by analogy with human feeling the type of territory of the human spirit to which we are taken by colour – and very roughly, for we are the beginning of our investigations – we know that these will not be intellectual, for colour is not intellectual. Winifred Nicholson ‘Unknown Colour’, Unknown Colour, p102 There is a great deal waiting to be painted, and may roads to voyage. I will leave it to you to paint new colour pictures for yourself. I hope I have obliterated for you for ever the old conception that colour must be a slave to form and must be tacked down on to objects.I hope I have shown you that colour is the vital power out of which forms, objects, images, thoughts themselves, can be created. Winifred Nicholson ‘Liberation of Colour’, Unknown Colour, p129

92

93


Footnotes 1.

Unknown Colour, Paintings, Letters, Writings by Winifred Nicholson, ed. Andrew Nicholson (Faber and Faber, London, 1987), p43.

2.

Winifred Nicholson, 'Unknown Colour', first published in Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art, ed. JL Martin, Ben Nicholson, N Gabo, London, Faber and Faber, 1937; also Unknown Colour, p102.

3.

In the county boundary changes of 1972 Cumberland swallowed up Westmorland, took Barrow-in-Furness and Lonsdale from Lancashire, and Sedbergh Rural District from Yorkshire to become England’s largest county, Cumbria.

4. 5. 6.

From 1932-8 Winifred lived in Paris.

34.

For Castlerigg see Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Andreae (Lund Humphries, Farnham 2009), p148; there is another in a private collection. There is another painting of 'Long Meg and Her Daughters' listed, but untraced. See Unknown Colour, p244, for a drawing of 'Long Meg and Her Daughters'.

35.

Not surprisingly, many of the most important collections of Winifred’s painting were formed by women. For more information about Helen Sutherland see The Helen Sutherland Collection, Arts Council 1970, and A Rhythm, a Rite, a Ceremony: Helen Sutherland at Cockley Moor 1939-1965, Val Corbett (Midnight Oil, Penrith 1996).

36.

Pinks and Roses, Cockley Moor Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Andreae, (Lund Humphries, Farnham, 2009), p72, was also painted at Helen Sutherland’s house. Flowers in a Black Jug (unpublished) was painted at Rock, Northumberland, where Helen Sutherland lived before moving to Cockley Moor.

I am grateful to Joanna Matthews for this information and for sharing many illuminating discussions about Mary Parke. It is traditional within the family to refer to her as Mary Parke, rather than by her married name Howard.

37.

Richard Hughes was at Balliol with Wilfred Roberts, Winifred’s brother. He rented Lyulph’s Tower in about 1946. Winifred stayed a number of times with Richard Hughes at his house in north Wales.

7.

Exhibition of works by George Howard, Ninth Earl of Carlisle, 1843-1911, Leighton House Art Gallery, 15-28 February, 1954. The introduction is signed ‘A Present-Day Painter’, but was clearly written by Winifred. I am grateful to Alison Brisby for drawing this to my attention.

38.

Lyulph’s Tower belonged to Michael Howard and it is possible that some of the Ullswater paintings were made when she was staying with him. In the 1960s Winfred visited Michael Howard and his wife Lelia Caetani at Ninfa, outside Rome. I am grateful to Esmé Howard for information about Michael Howard.

8. 9.

Lady Cecilia mostly gave up painting to concentrate on her family.

39.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead, 1960s, Unknown Colour, p177.

The Dacre Beasts now belong to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where removed from their stone pedestals and with the salmon erroneously catalogued as a dolphin they have lost much of their meaning. While no blame can be apportioned to the previous owner for wishing to settle a monstrous tax liability, there is an argument for thinking the Dacre Beasts should have been allowed by the cultural authorities to remain in the context in which they were created.

40.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead, July 1965, Unknown Colour, p178.

41.

Winifred’s exhibitions at the Crane Kalman Gallery in 1967 and 1969 contained few recent paintings from Cumberland. Only in her 1972 Crane Kalman Gallery exhibition did she exhibit a significant number.

42.

‘I have been painting a lot through a sad time, one has to paint to keep one afloat, and I think I have been making some progress, slow may be, but then one is slower as one grows in years and experience.’ Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby, c1959 (TGA 8717.1.1.1881).

43.

Quoted in Winifred Nicholson, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, 2001, p60, letter to Ben Nicholson, 1950s (TGA 8717.1.1.1870).

44.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Kathleen Raine, Bankshead, undated (British Library).

45.

In Northumberland she painted at Helen Sutherland’s house at Rock and there were holidays on the coast in 1927 and 1934. Later she made a watercolour at Housesteads. Across the border she painted the Hermitage Castle and the Torhousie stone circle. She of course greatly enjoyed the Hebrides.

46.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby, c1958 (TGA 8717.1.1.1880).

47.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby, c1956 (TGA 8717.1.1.1866).

18. Other makers were Florence Williams and Mrs Davidson. Winifred encouraged the production of well over 100

48.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby, c1959 (TGA 8717.1.1.1881).

49.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, London, 1960s (TGA 8717.1.1.1907).

19. I am grateful to Donald Wilkinson for sharing his thoughts about this painting. 20. See Unknown Colour pp50-1 for the difficulties Winifred had conceiving and giving birth to her eldest son in

50.

Personal communication.

51.

It is uncertain what drew Winifred to the Duddon Valley. See Winifred Nicholson, A Cumbrian Perspective (Castlegate Gallery, Cockermouth, 2004), back cover for another Duddon Valley painting. There is a pastel in a private collection.

52.

Winifred also painted in the Bewcastle area. See Bewcastle Fells, A Cumbrian Perspective, (Castlegate Gallery, 2004) p19, and Bewcastle, Christie’s 20 June 1995, lot 49.

53.

As Lord Henley he sat as a Liberal Peer in the House of Lords, the political party of Winifred’s father.

54.

Kathleen Raine, Winifred Nicholson’s Flowers (Temenos No 8, 1987), p163.

55.

I am grateful to Dr Alexander Murray for sharing his memories of Kathleen Raine.

56.

Winifred also painted Kathleen’s White Geranium, 1978, at Arlots (Christie’s, 27 September 1991, lot 91). The Howard, 1978 (Two Lyrical Painters: Winifred Nicholson and Mary Newcomb (Crane Kalman Gallery, 2001, no.13)) was painted at Andy Christian and Susie Honor’s house near Hallbankgate. On both occasions the author left Winifred while he walked on the fells and by the end of the day she had finished the paintings. Also painted at Kathleen’s cottage is Opium Poppy, Arlots (Private Collection).

57.

Winifred Nicholson, 'Unweave a Rainbow', Foreword to Recent Paintings by Winifred Nicholson, Crane Kalman Gallery, March 1981, reproduced in Unknown Colour, p259.

58.

I am grateful to Donald Wilkinson for sharing his thoughts about the Salpiglossis paintings. There is another work, Salpiglossis Light, in a private collection.

59.

Logistics have prevented the inclusion of more prismatic paintings. For a more comprehensive discussion of the prismatic paintings see Winifred Nicholson: Liberation of Colour (Philip Wilson Publishers, London, 2016).

60.

‘Blinks’, Unknown Colour, p24.

10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

‘Moments of Light’, Unknown Colour, p43.

‘Moments of Light’, Unknown Colour, p43. ‘Blinks’, Unknown Colour, p24. ‘Liberation of Colour’, Unknown Colour, p126. ‘Unknown Colour’, Unknown Colour, p101. ‘Colour Unconfined’, Unknown Colour, p251. ‘Moments of Light’, Unknown Colour, p43. I am grateful to Jake Nicholson for telling me where the idea for this painting originated. Art and Life, Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, William Staite Murray, 19201931, (Philip Wilson Publishers, London 2013), p12, for rugs by Margaret Warwick and Ben Nicholson. William Nicholson’s rug, ‘The Zodiac’ c1925 is in the V&A (T.11-1954). It was made by the Women’s Institute in Sutton Veny. I am grateful to Lisa Banks for this information. rugs.

1927.

21. After his studio in London was bombed Winifred wrote to Mondrian inviting him to come and stay in

Cumberland. He wrote back asking if it was green. When Winifred wrote in the affirmative he went to New York.

22. 23. 24. 25.

Letter to Jake Nicholson, Boothby 1940s (TGA 201022/1/49/24). Winifred Nicholson, letter to Jake Nicholson, Boothby, 1950s (TGA 201022.1.49.117). I am grateful to Charlotte Lodge for sharing her reminiscences of Boothby with me. Winifred Nicholson, letter to Jake Nicholson, Boothby, September 1949 (TGA 201022/1/49/98). The twelthcentury church of St Mary Magdalene, Lanercost Priory, was the parish church for Boothby. All the statues in the west face were removed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, except for the statue of Mary Magdalene, which was too high up. The picture mentioned is untraced.

26. For other views looking north east from Boothby see The Hunter’s Moon (Tate) and Boothby Bank (Manchester City Gallery).

27. Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, c1950 (TGA 8717.1.1.1847). 28. 'The Flower’s Response', Unknown Colour, p216.

94

29.

'The Flower’s Response', Unknown Colour, pp216-7.

30.

I am grateful to Joanna Matthews for suggesting Winifred’s involvement in this. Interestingly the Cumberland Arms has a Dacre bull holding up the shield.

31.

I am grateful to the late Andrew Nicholson for sharing this information with me.

32.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Kathleen Raine, 1960s (British Library).

33.

For the Torhousie stone circle see Unknown Colour p205 and Winifred Nicholson in Scotland, Alice Strang (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 2003) p44; Killadangan Stone Row, as ‘Croagh Patrick’, Unknown Colour p265 and Winifred Nicholson, Jon Blackwood (Kettle’s Yard, 2001) p79; for Ring of Brodgar see Christie’s, 27 March 1997, lot 209.

95


Footnotes 1.

Unknown Colour, Paintings, Letters, Writings by Winifred Nicholson, ed. Andrew Nicholson (Faber and Faber, London, 1987), p43.

2.

Winifred Nicholson, 'Unknown Colour', first published in Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art, ed. JL Martin, Ben Nicholson, N Gabo, London, Faber and Faber, 1937; also Unknown Colour, p102.

3.

In the county boundary changes of 1972 Cumberland swallowed up Westmorland, took Barrow-in-Furness and Lonsdale from Lancashire, and Sedbergh Rural District from Yorkshire to become England’s largest county, Cumbria.

4. 5. 6.

From 1932-8 Winifred lived in Paris.

34.

For Castlerigg see Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Andreae (Lund Humphries, Farnham 2009), p148; there is another in a private collection. There is another painting of 'Long Meg and Her Daughters' listed, but untraced. See Unknown Colour, p244, for a drawing of 'Long Meg and Her Daughters'.

35.

Not surprisingly, many of the most important collections of Winifred’s painting were formed by women. For more information about Helen Sutherland see The Helen Sutherland Collection, Arts Council 1970, and A Rhythm, a Rite, a Ceremony: Helen Sutherland at Cockley Moor 1939-1965, Val Corbett (Midnight Oil, Penrith 1996).

36.

Pinks and Roses, Cockley Moor Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Andreae, (Lund Humphries, Farnham, 2009), p72, was also painted at Helen Sutherland’s house. Flowers in a Black Jug (unpublished) was painted at Rock, Northumberland, where Helen Sutherland lived before moving to Cockley Moor.

I am grateful to Joanna Matthews for this information and for sharing many illuminating discussions about Mary Parke. It is traditional within the family to refer to her as Mary Parke, rather than by her married name Howard.

37.

Richard Hughes was at Balliol with Wilfred Roberts, Winifred’s brother. He rented Lyulph’s Tower in about 1946. Winifred stayed a number of times with Richard Hughes at his house in north Wales.

7.

Exhibition of works by George Howard, Ninth Earl of Carlisle, 1843-1911, Leighton House Art Gallery, 15-28 February, 1954. The introduction is signed ‘A Present-Day Painter’, but was clearly written by Winifred. I am grateful to Alison Brisby for drawing this to my attention.

38.

Lyulph’s Tower belonged to Michael Howard and it is possible that some of the Ullswater paintings were made when she was staying with him. In the 1960s Winfred visited Michael Howard and his wife Lelia Caetani at Ninfa, outside Rome. I am grateful to Esmé Howard for information about Michael Howard.

8. 9.

Lady Cecilia mostly gave up painting to concentrate on her family.

39.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead, 1960s, Unknown Colour, p177.

The Dacre Beasts now belong to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where removed from their stone pedestals and with the salmon erroneously catalogued as a dolphin they have lost much of their meaning. While no blame can be apportioned to the previous owner for wishing to settle a monstrous tax liability, there is an argument for thinking the Dacre Beasts should have been allowed by the cultural authorities to remain in the context in which they were created.

40.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Bankshead, July 1965, Unknown Colour, p178.

41.

Winifred’s exhibitions at the Crane Kalman Gallery in 1967 and 1969 contained few recent paintings from Cumberland. Only in her 1972 Crane Kalman Gallery exhibition did she exhibit a significant number.

42.

‘I have been painting a lot through a sad time, one has to paint to keep one afloat, and I think I have been making some progress, slow may be, but then one is slower as one grows in years and experience.’ Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby, c1959 (TGA 8717.1.1.1881).

43.

Quoted in Winifred Nicholson, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, 2001, p60, letter to Ben Nicholson, 1950s (TGA 8717.1.1.1870).

44.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Kathleen Raine, Bankshead, undated (British Library).

45.

In Northumberland she painted at Helen Sutherland’s house at Rock and there were holidays on the coast in 1927 and 1934. Later she made a watercolour at Housesteads. Across the border she painted the Hermitage Castle and the Torhousie stone circle. She of course greatly enjoyed the Hebrides.

46.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby, c1958 (TGA 8717.1.1.1880).

47.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby, c1956 (TGA 8717.1.1.1866).

18. Other makers were Florence Williams and Mrs Davidson. Winifred encouraged the production of well over 100

48.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, Boothby, c1959 (TGA 8717.1.1.1881).

49.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, London, 1960s (TGA 8717.1.1.1907).

19. I am grateful to Donald Wilkinson for sharing his thoughts about this painting. 20. See Unknown Colour pp50-1 for the difficulties Winifred had conceiving and giving birth to her eldest son in

50.

Personal communication.

51.

It is uncertain what drew Winifred to the Duddon Valley. See Winifred Nicholson, A Cumbrian Perspective (Castlegate Gallery, Cockermouth, 2004), back cover for another Duddon Valley painting. There is a pastel in a private collection.

52.

Winifred also painted in the Bewcastle area. See Bewcastle Fells, A Cumbrian Perspective, (Castlegate Gallery, 2004) p19, and Bewcastle, Christie’s 20 June 1995, lot 49.

53.

As Lord Henley he sat as a Liberal Peer in the House of Lords, the political party of Winifred’s father.

54.

Kathleen Raine, Winifred Nicholson’s Flowers (Temenos No 8, 1987), p163.

55.

I am grateful to Dr Alexander Murray for sharing his memories of Kathleen Raine.

56.

Winifred also painted Kathleen’s White Geranium, 1978, at Arlots (Christie’s, 27 September 1991, lot 91). The Howard, 1978 (Two Lyrical Painters: Winifred Nicholson and Mary Newcomb (Crane Kalman Gallery, 2001, no.13)) was painted at Andy Christian and Susie Honor’s house near Hallbankgate. On both occasions the author left Winifred while he walked on the fells and by the end of the day she had finished the paintings. Also painted at Kathleen’s cottage is Opium Poppy, Arlots (Private Collection).

57.

Winifred Nicholson, 'Unweave a Rainbow', Foreword to Recent Paintings by Winifred Nicholson, Crane Kalman Gallery, March 1981, reproduced in Unknown Colour, p259.

58.

I am grateful to Donald Wilkinson for sharing his thoughts about the Salpiglossis paintings. There is another work, Salpiglossis Light, in a private collection.

59.

Logistics have prevented the inclusion of more prismatic paintings. For a more comprehensive discussion of the prismatic paintings see Winifred Nicholson: Liberation of Colour (Philip Wilson Publishers, London, 2016).

60.

‘Blinks’, Unknown Colour, p24.

10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

‘Moments of Light’, Unknown Colour, p43.

‘Moments of Light’, Unknown Colour, p43. ‘Blinks’, Unknown Colour, p24. ‘Liberation of Colour’, Unknown Colour, p126. ‘Unknown Colour’, Unknown Colour, p101. ‘Colour Unconfined’, Unknown Colour, p251. ‘Moments of Light’, Unknown Colour, p43. I am grateful to Jake Nicholson for telling me where the idea for this painting originated. Art and Life, Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, William Staite Murray, 19201931, (Philip Wilson Publishers, London 2013), p12, for rugs by Margaret Warwick and Ben Nicholson. William Nicholson’s rug, ‘The Zodiac’ c1925 is in the V&A (T.11-1954). It was made by the Women’s Institute in Sutton Veny. I am grateful to Lisa Banks for this information. rugs.

1927.

21. After his studio in London was bombed Winifred wrote to Mondrian inviting him to come and stay in

Cumberland. He wrote back asking if it was green. When Winifred wrote in the affirmative he went to New York.

22. 23. 24. 25.

Letter to Jake Nicholson, Boothby 1940s (TGA 201022/1/49/24). Winifred Nicholson, letter to Jake Nicholson, Boothby, 1950s (TGA 201022.1.49.117). I am grateful to Charlotte Lodge for sharing her reminiscences of Boothby with me. Winifred Nicholson, letter to Jake Nicholson, Boothby, September 1949 (TGA 201022/1/49/98). The twelthcentury church of St Mary Magdalene, Lanercost Priory, was the parish church for Boothby. All the statues in the west face were removed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, except for the statue of Mary Magdalene, which was too high up. The picture mentioned is untraced.

26. For other views looking north east from Boothby see The Hunter’s Moon (Tate) and Boothby Bank (Manchester City Gallery).

27. Winifred Nicholson, letter to Ben Nicholson, c1950 (TGA 8717.1.1.1847). 28. 'The Flower’s Response', Unknown Colour, p216.

94

29.

'The Flower’s Response', Unknown Colour, pp216-7.

30.

I am grateful to Joanna Matthews for suggesting Winifred’s involvement in this. Interestingly the Cumberland Arms has a Dacre bull holding up the shield.

31.

I am grateful to the late Andrew Nicholson for sharing this information with me.

32.

Winifred Nicholson, letter to Kathleen Raine, 1960s (British Library).

33.

For the Torhousie stone circle see Unknown Colour p205 and Winifred Nicholson in Scotland, Alice Strang (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 2003) p44; Killadangan Stone Row, as ‘Croagh Patrick’, Unknown Colour p265 and Winifred Nicholson, Jon Blackwood (Kettle’s Yard, 2001) p79; for Ring of Brodgar see Christie’s, 27 March 1997, lot 209.

95


Chronology 1893 Born Rosa Winifred Roberts, 21 December in Oxford, to Charles Henry Roberts, Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, and Lady Cecilia Maude Roberts (née Howard). Her grandfather, the painter George Howard, Ninth Earl of Carlisle, was an early influence on Winifred. Winifred spent large parts of her childhood at Naworth Castle, Cumberland. 1912 Began studies at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London. 1914 Exhibits a painting at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and again in 1916. Late 1919 – early 1920 Travels to India, Ceylon and Burma with her sister and father (Under-Secretary of State for India 1914-15 and a member of the Montagu-Chelmsford Commission). 1920 June: meets Ben Nicholson. They marry in November.

Above: Winifred with George Howard c1910 Below: Winifred (on the left) with her sister Christina and brother Wilfrid, with Lufra, Sprite and Twinkle, Naworth c1907

1920-3 Spends winters at Villa Capriccio, above Lake Lugano in Switzerland, returning to London and Cumberland for the summer. 1922 October: exhibits with the London Group at the Mansard Gallery, London. (During her lifetime she participated in over 200 group exhibitions). 1923 May: Winifred and Ben exhibit together at the WB Paterson Gallery, London (26 pictures, including Birdoswald which is untraced) Late 1923: buys a house in Cumberland, Bankshead. 1924 Spring: after extensive renovations, Winifred and Ben move in to Bankshead. July: Paul Nash stays at Bankshead. 1925 Summer: Ivon Hitchens stays at Bankshead. Winifred meets the collector Helen Sutherland in London and also HS (Jim) Ede (founder of Kettle’s Yard) about this time. 1926 Towards the end of the year Winifred and Ben meet Christopher Wood. 1927 April: first solo exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery, London (54 pictures, including Northrigg Hill). June: first child Jacob (Jake) born in London.

96

Above: Winifred Nicholson c1923 Below: Winifred Nicholson with Andrew, Bankshead, 1930s.

1928 Spring: Christopher Wood visits Bankshead. July: joint show at the Lefevre Gallery, London, with Ben and William Staite Murray (22 pictures, including Nursery Bunch). 1929 July: second child Kate born at Bankshead, Cumberland. 1930 March: solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, London (40 pictures, including Flower Table). 1931 July: third child Andrew born at Bankshead, Cumberland. October: Ben leaves and moves to London, where he begins to live with the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, although he keeps in regular contact with Winifred and their three children. Winifred and Ben corresponded regularly until the end of Winifred’s life. 1932 Spring: moves to Par, Cornwall, where she spends time with Frances Hodgkins. Autumn: moves to Paris.

97


Chronology 1893 Born Rosa Winifred Roberts, 21 December in Oxford, to Charles Henry Roberts, Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, and Lady Cecilia Maude Roberts (née Howard). Her grandfather, the painter George Howard, Ninth Earl of Carlisle, was an early influence on Winifred. Winifred spent large parts of her childhood at Naworth Castle, Cumberland. 1912 Began studies at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London. 1914 Exhibits a painting at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and again in 1916. Late 1919 – early 1920 Travels to India, Ceylon and Burma with her sister and father (Under-Secretary of State for India 1914-15 and a member of the Montagu-Chelmsford Commission). 1920 June: meets Ben Nicholson. They marry in November.

Above: Winifred with George Howard c1910 Below: Winifred (on the left) with her sister Christina and brother Wilfrid, with Lufra, Sprite and Twinkle, Naworth c1907

1920-3 Spends winters at Villa Capriccio, above Lake Lugano in Switzerland, returning to London and Cumberland for the summer. 1922 October: exhibits with the London Group at the Mansard Gallery, London. (During her lifetime she participated in over 200 group exhibitions). 1923 May: Winifred and Ben exhibit together at the WB Paterson Gallery, London (26 pictures, including Birdoswald which is untraced) Late 1923: buys a house in Cumberland, Bankshead. 1924 Spring: after extensive renovations, Winifred and Ben move in to Bankshead. July: Paul Nash stays at Bankshead. 1925 Summer: Ivon Hitchens stays at Bankshead. Winifred meets the collector Helen Sutherland in London and also HS (Jim) Ede (founder of Kettle’s Yard) about this time. 1926 Towards the end of the year Winifred and Ben meet Christopher Wood. 1927 April: first solo exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery, London (54 pictures, including Northrigg Hill). June: first child Jacob (Jake) born in London.

96

Above: Winifred Nicholson c1923 Below: Winifred Nicholson with Andrew, Bankshead, 1930s.

1928 Spring: Christopher Wood visits Bankshead. July: joint show at the Lefevre Gallery, London, with Ben and William Staite Murray (22 pictures, including Nursery Bunch). 1929 July: second child Kate born at Bankshead, Cumberland. 1930 March: solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, London (40 pictures, including Flower Table). 1931 July: third child Andrew born at Bankshead, Cumberland. October: Ben leaves and moves to London, where he begins to live with the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, although he keeps in regular contact with Winifred and their three children. Winifred and Ben corresponded regularly until the end of Winifred’s life. 1932 Spring: moves to Par, Cornwall, where she spends time with Frances Hodgkins. Autumn: moves to Paris.

97


1954 February: exhibits 29 pictures at the Leicester Galleries (including, Evening at Boothby). Also that month organises an exhibition of paintings by her grandfather, George Howard, at Leighton House, London.

1932-8 In Paris Winifred meets many of the artists living there, including Piet Mondrian, Jean Hélion, Naum Gabo, Hans Hartung, Alberto Giacometti, Constantin Brancusi, César Domela, Alexander Calder, Wassily Kandinsky, Hans Erni, Jean Arp. Ben visits regularly. Begins to paint abstract paintings which she exhibits under the name Winifred Dacre. Winifred and the children spend the summers in Cumberland.

1956 March: exhibits The Hunter’s Moon at The Seasons, a Contemporary Arts Society Exhibition at the Tate Gallery. 1959 June: Charles Roberts, Winifred’s father, dies at Boothby. Shortly after Winifred moves back to Bankshead.

1934 April-October: exhibits eight pictures at the XIX Venice Biennale. Spends the summer in Cumberland. October: Ben and Barbara Hepworth’s triplets are born. Winifred meets Mondrian. 1936 June: solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, London (33 pictures).

1964 September: solo exhibition Wild Flowers in Greece at the Redfern Gallery (64 pictures).

1937 Winifred writes the article 'Unknown Colour' (under the name Winifred Dacre), published in Circle, International Survey of Constructive Art, edited by JL Martin, Ben Nicholson, and Naum Gabo.

1967 March: solo exhibition at the Crane Kalman Gallery, London (30 pictures including The Great Dodd, untraced). The Crane Kalman Gallery becomes her main London dealer and holds all her subsequent London solo exhibitions.

1938 Spends the summer in England. September: returns to Paris alone to close the flat; encourages Piet Mondrian to come to London with her by train, away from impending war. November: Winifred and Ben divorce. Ben marries Barbara Hepworth soon after. 1940 Moves to her parents’ house, Boothby, Cumberland, which remains her home until 1959. During the war Winifred farms, keeps goats and bees, and runs a small school for local children. 1941 July: solo exhibition at Tullie House, Carlisle (38 pictures, including Calees). 1944 December: her article, 'Liberation of Colour', (under the name Winifred Dacre) published in the The World Review. 1946 After the war Winifred begins travelling again, visiting France, Ireland and North Wales during the late 1940s. April: exhibits 40 pictures at the Lefevre Gallery (including Cranesbill, St. Bees). 1947 Lady Cecilia Roberts, Winifred’s mother, dies at Boothby.

98

1960s Makes yearly trips to Greece from 1961 to 1967.

Winifred and Mungo at Boothby, looking north east, 1940s

1948 Meets the poet Kathleen Raine at Helen Sutherland’s house, Cockley Moor, in the Lake District. July: solo exhibition at Tullie House, Carlisle (63 pictures, including Cockley Moor and River Eden). August: visits the Hebrides for the first time, staying at Flodigarry, Skye, with her children. 1949 February: exhibits six pictures in Six Painters at Agnews, including Cumberland Hills. May: exhibits 24 paintings at the Lefevre Gallery (including Ullswater and Long Meg). October: exhibits in the Annual Exhibition of Local Art at Tullie House, Carlisle; continues to exhibit there regularly until 1979 including, in October 1950, Forsythia at Cockley Moor. 1950 Winifred and Kathleen Raine make the first of many trips to the Hebrides, often staying at Sandaig, Gavin Maxwell’s house on the Knoydart peninsular. 1952 February: exhibits 26 pictures at Lefevre Gallery (including Candlemas I). July: visits Brittany, where she sees the dolmens at Carnac. 1953 March: solo exhibition at the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh (47 pictures, including Black Cattle).

1969 February: solo exhibition, The Flowers of Winifred Nicholson at the Crane Kalman Gallery, (32 pictures). March: Heritage exhibition at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, which includes 26 hooky rugs. May: exhibition at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal (37 pictures including Spring Festivity). December: visits Tunisia.

December: solo exhibition, Paintings 1930-1974 at LYC Museum and Art Gallery. 1975 October: solo exhibition of abstract works mostly from the 1930s, An Unknown Aspect of Winifred Nicholson at Crane Kalman Gallery, London (30 pictures). Tate Gallery purchases two abstract works, Quarante-Huite Quai d’Auteuil, and Moonlight and Lamplight. 1976 January: solo exhibition at LYC Museum and Art Gallery (33 pictures, including abstracts). LYC Press publishes Flower Tales, a book of stories that flowers tell by Winifred in a limited edition of 500. Autumn: the physicist Glen Schaefer gives Winifred some prisms and she begins painting prismatic pictures. 1979 May-June: travels to Greece. July: exhibits at LYC Museum and Art Gallery with Mary Newcomb. September: Scottish Arts Council Retrospective exhibition of 72 pictures begins in Edinburgh. Organised by the Third Eye Centre it travels to Tullie House, Carlisle; Third Eye Centre, Glasgow; The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tune; The Minories, Colchester; and the Penwith, St.Ives. However, the exhibition does not include any of her recent prismatic pictures.

1970 December: exhibits 12 pictures in the Arts Council touring exhibition Helen Sutherland Collection. 1971 Spring: paints in Morocco Winifred encourages and helps the Chinese artist Li Yuan-chia to open a gallery on the Banks. The LYC Museum and Art Gallery lasts till 1982, and Winifred exhibits there four times. 1972 February: solo exhibition at Crane Kalman Gallery (38 pictures, including Bunch from Ivinsons' Garden) November: solo exhibition at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (approximately 41 pictures). 1973 Spring: paints in Mycenae, Greece. 1974 November: solo exhibition at Crane Kalman Gallery, London (34 pictures, including Valley of the Duddon and Long Meg and Her Daughters).

Winifred with her granddaughter Rafaele, Bankshead 1978

99


1954 February: exhibits 29 pictures at the Leicester Galleries (including, Evening at Boothby). Also that month organises an exhibition of paintings by her grandfather, George Howard, at Leighton House, London.

1932-8 In Paris Winifred meets many of the artists living there, including Piet Mondrian, Jean Hélion, Naum Gabo, Hans Hartung, Alberto Giacometti, Constantin Brancusi, César Domela, Alexander Calder, Wassily Kandinsky, Hans Erni, Jean Arp. Ben visits regularly. Begins to paint abstract paintings which she exhibits under the name Winifred Dacre. Winifred and the children spend the summers in Cumberland.

1956 March: exhibits The Hunter’s Moon at The Seasons, a Contemporary Arts Society Exhibition at the Tate Gallery. 1959 June: Charles Roberts, Winifred’s father, dies at Boothby. Shortly after Winifred moves back to Bankshead.

1934 April-October: exhibits eight pictures at the XIX Venice Biennale. Spends the summer in Cumberland. October: Ben and Barbara Hepworth’s triplets are born. Winifred meets Mondrian. 1936 June: solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, London (33 pictures).

1964 September: solo exhibition Wild Flowers in Greece at the Redfern Gallery (64 pictures).

1937 Winifred writes the article 'Unknown Colour' (under the name Winifred Dacre), published in Circle, International Survey of Constructive Art, edited by JL Martin, Ben Nicholson, and Naum Gabo.

1967 March: solo exhibition at the Crane Kalman Gallery, London (30 pictures including The Great Dodd, untraced). The Crane Kalman Gallery becomes her main London dealer and holds all her subsequent London solo exhibitions.

1938 Spends the summer in England. September: returns to Paris alone to close the flat; encourages Piet Mondrian to come to London with her by train, away from impending war. November: Winifred and Ben divorce. Ben marries Barbara Hepworth soon after. 1940 Moves to her parents’ house, Boothby, Cumberland, which remains her home until 1959. During the war Winifred farms, keeps goats and bees, and runs a small school for local children. 1941 July: solo exhibition at Tullie House, Carlisle (38 pictures, including Calees). 1944 December: her article, 'Liberation of Colour', (under the name Winifred Dacre) published in the The World Review. 1946 After the war Winifred begins travelling again, visiting France, Ireland and North Wales during the late 1940s. April: exhibits 40 pictures at the Lefevre Gallery (including Cranesbill, St. Bees). 1947 Lady Cecilia Roberts, Winifred’s mother, dies at Boothby.

98

1960s Makes yearly trips to Greece from 1961 to 1967.

Winifred and Mungo at Boothby, looking north east, 1940s

1948 Meets the poet Kathleen Raine at Helen Sutherland’s house, Cockley Moor, in the Lake District. July: solo exhibition at Tullie House, Carlisle (63 pictures, including Cockley Moor and River Eden). August: visits the Hebrides for the first time, staying at Flodigarry, Skye, with her children. 1949 February: exhibits six pictures in Six Painters at Agnews, including Cumberland Hills. May: exhibits 24 paintings at the Lefevre Gallery (including Ullswater and Long Meg). October: exhibits in the Annual Exhibition of Local Art at Tullie House, Carlisle; continues to exhibit there regularly until 1979 including, in October 1950, Forsythia at Cockley Moor. 1950 Winifred and Kathleen Raine make the first of many trips to the Hebrides, often staying at Sandaig, Gavin Maxwell’s house on the Knoydart peninsular. 1952 February: exhibits 26 pictures at Lefevre Gallery (including Candlemas I). July: visits Brittany, where she sees the dolmens at Carnac. 1953 March: solo exhibition at the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh (47 pictures, including Black Cattle).

1969 February: solo exhibition, The Flowers of Winifred Nicholson at the Crane Kalman Gallery, (32 pictures). March: Heritage exhibition at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, which includes 26 hooky rugs. May: exhibition at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal (37 pictures including Spring Festivity). December: visits Tunisia.

December: solo exhibition, Paintings 1930-1974 at LYC Museum and Art Gallery. 1975 October: solo exhibition of abstract works mostly from the 1930s, An Unknown Aspect of Winifred Nicholson at Crane Kalman Gallery, London (30 pictures). Tate Gallery purchases two abstract works, Quarante-Huite Quai d’Auteuil, and Moonlight and Lamplight. 1976 January: solo exhibition at LYC Museum and Art Gallery (33 pictures, including abstracts). LYC Press publishes Flower Tales, a book of stories that flowers tell by Winifred in a limited edition of 500. Autumn: the physicist Glen Schaefer gives Winifred some prisms and she begins painting prismatic pictures. 1979 May-June: travels to Greece. July: exhibits at LYC Museum and Art Gallery with Mary Newcomb. September: Scottish Arts Council Retrospective exhibition of 72 pictures begins in Edinburgh. Organised by the Third Eye Centre it travels to Tullie House, Carlisle; Third Eye Centre, Glasgow; The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tune; The Minories, Colchester; and the Penwith, St.Ives. However, the exhibition does not include any of her recent prismatic pictures.

1970 December: exhibits 12 pictures in the Arts Council touring exhibition Helen Sutherland Collection. 1971 Spring: paints in Morocco Winifred encourages and helps the Chinese artist Li Yuan-chia to open a gallery on the Banks. The LYC Museum and Art Gallery lasts till 1982, and Winifred exhibits there four times. 1972 February: solo exhibition at Crane Kalman Gallery (38 pictures, including Bunch from Ivinsons' Garden) November: solo exhibition at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (approximately 41 pictures). 1973 Spring: paints in Mycenae, Greece. 1974 November: solo exhibition at Crane Kalman Gallery, London (34 pictures, including Valley of the Duddon and Long Meg and Her Daughters).

Winifred with her granddaughter Rafaele, Bankshead 1978

99


1980 May: visits Eigg, Hebrides. 1981 5 March: dies at Bankshead. 24 March: Recent Paintings exhibition opens at Crane Kalman Gallery, London, the first full showing of her prismatic pictures (approximately 39 pictures, including Salpiglossis Light and Salpiglossis Evening). 1982 November: A Tribute to Winifred Nicholson exhibition opens at Abbot Hall Art Gallery (60 pictures, including Triumphant Triangles and Accord).

Above: Opening at the LYC July 1979, Winifred (seated) is talking to the Rev. Geoffrey Bennett Right: Winifred, Bankshead, 1979.

100

List of exhibited works

List of illustrated works

Page

Title/Date

Page Artist

Title/Date

28 31 32 36 37 38 38 40 41 42 45 46 47 48 49 49 50 52 53 56 57 58 60 61 62 63 65 66 68 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 80 82 85 86 87 88 89 90 92

The Dacre Beasts, c1910 The Sycamore, c1922 The Swaites, c1923 Black Cattle, 1920s Northrigg Hill, 1926 Flower Table: Pots, 1927 Flower Table No 4, c1927 Starry Eyed, 1927 Fire and Water, 1927 Bankshead Flowers in an Alabaster Vase, c1928 Bathtime, c1934 Windflowers, 1934 Campanulas, c1935 Flowers from Walton Moss, c1945 Netherton, 1940s Calees, c1954 Boothby Hyacinths, c1950 Evening at Boothby, 1953 Cumberland Flowers, 1946 Long Meg and Her Daughters, 1940s The River Eden,1959 Daffodils and Pewter Jug, 1953 Cockley Moor, c1948 Borrowdale, c1950 Sheep at St Bees Head, 1957 Lily of the Valley, St. Bees, 1940s Cranesbill, St. Bees, 1940s Ullswater, c1949s Cumberland Hills, c1948 Animal Squares, 1960s Blackbirds in a Landscape, c1970 Spring Festivity, 1966 Helen’s Bunch in Helen’s Pot, 1974 Snowdrops in Winter, Bankshead, c1969 Flowers from the Ivinsons’ Garden, 1971 Narcissi, 1979 Snowy Dance, 1970s Duddon Valley, 1974 Triumphant Triangles, 1970s Christmas Cactus, 1979 September Salpiglossis, 1980 Salpiglossis Dark, 1980 Prismatic Abstract, 1970s Yellow Circle, Starfishes and Seahorses, 1970s Rainbow with Movement, 1970s Accord, 1978

8

Winifred Nicholson

9

Winifred Nicholson

10 11 14 15 17 19 22 23 20 21 24 25 30 35 67

Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson

Underheugh Farm, near Birdoswald, from an Indian sketch book, 1920 From Bedroom Window, Bankshead, c1930 The Warwick Family, c1926 Blencathra, 1920s White Cyclamen, 1955 White Campion, 1940s The Solway Firth, c1950 Bracken and Snowflake, 1970s Rainbow Arlots c1969 Daffodils, 1978 Snowdrops and Aconites,1970s Moonlight, Pots Loan, 1978 Rainbow (plant pots), 1980 Netherby Daffodils, 1979 Craighill, 1922 Cumberland Landscape, c1926 Ullswater, 1940s

33

Ben Nicholson

The Swaites, c1928

6

Mary Parke

Naworth Castle, c1840

7

George Howard

29

George Howard

Lady Cecilia Roberts with Winifred and Christina on the Terrace at Naworth, c1900 The Dacre Bull, Naworth Great Hall

7

Lady Cecilia Roberts Naworth Castle Garden with Monsignor Stanley, c1890

Photographic credits Campanulas, c1935

Peter Greenland

Cranesbill, St. Bees, late 1940s Bunch from the Ivinsons’ Garden, 1971

Matthew Hollow Matthew Hollow

Blackbirds in a Landscape, c1970

Jason Hynes

Narcissi, 1979

Gareth Ivan Jones

Windflowers, 1934

Jonathan Lynch

The Swaites, c1928

Courtesy Sotheby's

Netherby Daffodils, 1979 Animal Squares, 1960's September Salpiglossis, 1980

Tony West Tony West Tony West

All Winifred Nicholson images are reproduced with the permission of the Trustees of Winifred Nicholson. p99 Susie Honor, p100 (bottom) Graham Ross

101


1980 May: visits Eigg, Hebrides. 1981 5 March: dies at Bankshead. 24 March: Recent Paintings exhibition opens at Crane Kalman Gallery, London, the first full showing of her prismatic pictures (approximately 39 pictures, including Salpiglossis Light and Salpiglossis Evening). 1982 November: A Tribute to Winifred Nicholson exhibition opens at Abbot Hall Art Gallery (60 pictures, including Triumphant Triangles and Accord).

Above: Opening at the LYC July 1979, Winifred (seated) is talking to the Rev. Geoffrey Bennett Right: Winifred, Bankshead, 1979.

100

List of exhibited works

List of illustrated works

Page

Title/Date

Page Artist

Title/Date

28 31 32 36 37 38 38 40 41 42 45 46 47 48 49 49 50 52 53 56 57 58 60 61 62 63 65 66 68 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 80 82 85 86 87 88 89 90 92

The Dacre Beasts, c1910 The Sycamore, c1922 The Swaites, c1923 Black Cattle, 1920s Northrigg Hill, 1926 Flower Table: Pots, 1927 Flower Table No 4, c1927 Starry Eyed, 1927 Fire and Water, 1927 Bankshead Flowers in an Alabaster Vase, c1928 Bathtime, c1934 Windflowers, 1934 Campanulas, c1935 Flowers from Walton Moss, c1945 Netherton, 1940s Calees, c1954 Boothby Hyacinths, c1950 Evening at Boothby, 1953 Cumberland Flowers, 1946 Long Meg and Her Daughters, 1940s The River Eden,1959 Daffodils and Pewter Jug, 1953 Cockley Moor, c1948 Borrowdale, c1950 Sheep at St Bees Head, 1957 Lily of the Valley, St. Bees, 1940s Cranesbill, St. Bees, 1940s Ullswater, c1949s Cumberland Hills, c1948 Animal Squares, 1960s Blackbirds in a Landscape, c1970 Spring Festivity, 1966 Helen’s Bunch in Helen’s Pot, 1974 Snowdrops in Winter, Bankshead, c1969 Flowers from the Ivinsons’ Garden, 1971 Narcissi, 1979 Snowy Dance, 1970s Duddon Valley, 1974 Triumphant Triangles, 1970s Christmas Cactus, 1979 September Salpiglossis, 1980 Salpiglossis Dark, 1980 Prismatic Abstract, 1970s Yellow Circle, Starfishes and Seahorses, 1970s Rainbow with Movement, 1970s Accord, 1978

8

Winifred Nicholson

9

Winifred Nicholson

10 11 14 15 17 19 22 23 20 21 24 25 30 35 67

Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson Winifred Nicholson

Underheugh Farm, near Birdoswald, from an Indian sketch book, 1920 From Bedroom Window, Bankshead, c1930 The Warwick Family, c1926 Blencathra, 1920s White Cyclamen, 1955 White Campion, 1940s The Solway Firth, c1950 Bracken and Snowflake, 1970s Rainbow Arlots c1969 Daffodils, 1978 Snowdrops and Aconites,1970s Moonlight, Pots Loan, 1978 Rainbow (plant pots), 1980 Netherby Daffodils, 1979 Craighill, 1922 Cumberland Landscape, c1926 Ullswater, 1940s

33

Ben Nicholson

The Swaites, c1928

6

Mary Parke

Naworth Castle, c1840

7

George Howard

29

George Howard

Lady Cecilia Roberts with Winifred and Christina on the Terrace at Naworth, c1900 The Dacre Bull, Naworth Great Hall

7

Lady Cecilia Roberts Naworth Castle Garden with Monsignor Stanley, c1890

Photographic credits Campanulas, c1935

Peter Greenland

Cranesbill, St. Bees, late 1940s Bunch from the Ivinsons’ Garden, 1971

Matthew Hollow Matthew Hollow

Blackbirds in a Landscape, c1970

Jason Hynes

Narcissi, 1979

Gareth Ivan Jones

Windflowers, 1934

Jonathan Lynch

The Swaites, c1928

Courtesy Sotheby's

Netherby Daffodils, 1979 Animal Squares, 1960's September Salpiglossis, 1980

Tony West Tony West Tony West

All Winifred Nicholson images are reproduced with the permission of the Trustees of Winifred Nicholson. p99 Susie Honor, p100 (bottom) Graham Ross

101


Acknowledgments

Patrons, Benefactors and Sponsors

My especial thanks are due to many people for their help in organising this exhibition. It has been a delight working with Abbot Hall Art Gallery and I am very grateful to Gordon Watson for his support, Helen Watson for efficiently overseeing the project, Nick Rogers for coordinating the details and providing helpful advice throughout, Jeanette Edgar for designing a delightful catalogue, and Becca Weir and all the staff at Abbot Hall; Alix Collinwood-Swinburn, mima Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, helped instigate the project; Raffle Appleby has aided me throughout the process, as well as informed me about her time spent with Winifred; Donald Wilkinson generously shared his knowledge of Winifred’s creativity; Andy Christian and Susie Honor discussed their time with Winifred, and Susi has kindly allowed the reproduction of her photograph, as has Graham Ross; Charlotte Lodge and Joanna Matthews have shared their memories of Boothby and Joanna has informed me about Mary Parke and Lady Cecilia Roberts.

We are grateful to our Patrons, Benefactors and Sponsors for their continuing support in enabling us to conserve our Grade I listed buildings, care for, and develop the Lakeland Arts Trust’s impressive permanent collection and to continue to exhibit art of the highest quality, bringing the work of artists with established and emerging national and international reputations to Cumbria.

Robin Light and Sally Kalman from the Crane Kalman Gallery have been exceptionally helpful in securing loans, as has Ingram Reid from Bonhams. My thanks are due to the staff of the lending institutions, in particular Melanie Gardner, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Giles Maffett and Helen Welford, mima Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Yvonne Widger, Dartington Hall Trust as well as Yvette Goulden and the staff of the Richard Green Gallery. My thanks are due to Mary Adams, Adrian Allan, Christopher Andreae, Frances Christie, Mary Forster, Philip Harley, Alan Harvey and Frances Hinchcliffe, Esmé Howard, Henry Howard, Pippa Jacomb, Sonia Lawes, Penny Lee, Carol Mason, Diana Matthews, Jenny Newall, Shirley Nicholson, Katy Norris, Lleky Papastavrou, Pat Read, S Topkins, Diana Wilson, the staff of the British Library, the National Art Library and the Tate Library and Archive, who have all patiently assisted with my enquiries. I am very grateful to Ann Kenrick, who at the outset gave inspiring stimulus, and to the late Michael Harrison, who, shortly after we met invited me to help with the installation of the Winifred Nicholson exhibition at Kettle’s Yard in 2001, and was always generous with his time and support. Without the generosity of the private lenders this exhibition would not have been possible, for the vast majority of paintings have been loaned from private collections, and I am deeply grateful to them for sharing their treasured paintings with a wider audience. Throughout the preparation of the exhibition my family has kindly and patiently supported me. I am also indebted to my late father, Jake Nicholson, and the late Andrew Nicholson for their help. Winifred Nicholson was an extraordinary person, and I was very privileged to have spent much time with her in Cumberland (and latterly Cumbria). Jovan Nicholson

102

Benefactors Mr and Mrs T Ambler Mr and Mrs J Campbell Mr and Mrs T J R Harding Ms J Holland Dr and Mrs A C I Naylor Mr T P Naylor Mr and Mrs J Rink Dr J P L Welch Mr C Woodhouse CVO and Mrs M Woodhouse Patrons Mr Martin Ainscough Mr and Mrs C H Bagot Mr O Barratt MBE and Mrs V Barratt Mrs G Baxter Mr and Mrs D Case Lord and Lady Cavendish Mr J E Coward Mr C Crewdson OBE and Mrs V Crewdson Sir James Cropper KCVO Mr and Mrs W Dufton Mr and Mrs Dunning Miss R D Dunsmore Mr J Entwistle Mr A Firth Mrs B A Fletcher Mr and Mrs D Goeritz Mr R Hasell-McCosh Mr P Kessler MBE and Miss D Rose QL Lady Susan Kimber Mr and Mrs J Lee Mrs D Matthews JP Mr JS Nicoll and Ms L Colchester Mr T Parker Mr C Sanderson Mr and Mrs A Scott Mrs S Thornely DL

Mr and Mrs E Thomas Mr J Townson Dr T Tuohy Mr and Mrs G M Wallace Mr and Mrs P M White Mrs C Whittle Ms J Wood Mr N Woodhouse And all those who wish to remain anonymous

Corporate Patrons Brewin Dolphin Sanlam Private Wealth Supporters

Sir John Fisher Foundation

Exhibition Sponsor

Exhibition Catalogue Sponsor CRANE KALMAN GALLERY Ltd Est. 1949

103


Acknowledgments

Patrons, Benefactors and Sponsors

My especial thanks are due to many people for their help in organising this exhibition. It has been a delight working with Abbot Hall Art Gallery and I am very grateful to Gordon Watson for his support, Helen Watson for efficiently overseeing the project, Nick Rogers for coordinating the details and providing helpful advice throughout, Jeanette Edgar for designing a delightful catalogue, and Becca Weir and all the staff at Abbot Hall; Alix Collinwood-Swinburn, mima Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, helped instigate the project; Raffle Appleby has aided me throughout the process, as well as informed me about her time spent with Winifred; Donald Wilkinson generously shared his knowledge of Winifred’s creativity; Andy Christian and Susie Honor discussed their time with Winifred, and Susi has kindly allowed the reproduction of her photograph, as has Graham Ross; Charlotte Lodge and Joanna Matthews have shared their memories of Boothby and Joanna has informed me about Mary Parke and Lady Cecilia Roberts.

We are grateful to our Patrons, Benefactors and Sponsors for their continuing support in enabling us to conserve our Grade I listed buildings, care for, and develop the Lakeland Arts Trust’s impressive permanent collection and to continue to exhibit art of the highest quality, bringing the work of artists with established and emerging national and international reputations to Cumbria.

Robin Light and Sally Kalman from the Crane Kalman Gallery have been exceptionally helpful in securing loans, as has Ingram Reid from Bonhams. My thanks are due to the staff of the lending institutions, in particular Melanie Gardner, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Giles Maffett and Helen Welford, mima Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Yvonne Widger, Dartington Hall Trust as well as Yvette Goulden and the staff of the Richard Green Gallery. My thanks are due to Mary Adams, Adrian Allan, Christopher Andreae, Frances Christie, Mary Forster, Philip Harley, Alan Harvey and Frances Hinchcliffe, Esmé Howard, Henry Howard, Pippa Jacomb, Sonia Lawes, Penny Lee, Carol Mason, Diana Matthews, Jenny Newall, Shirley Nicholson, Katy Norris, Lleky Papastavrou, Pat Read, S Topkins, Diana Wilson, the staff of the British Library, the National Art Library and the Tate Library and Archive, who have all patiently assisted with my enquiries. I am very grateful to Ann Kenrick, who at the outset gave inspiring stimulus, and to the late Michael Harrison, who, shortly after we met invited me to help with the installation of the Winifred Nicholson exhibition at Kettle’s Yard in 2001, and was always generous with his time and support. Without the generosity of the private lenders this exhibition would not have been possible, for the vast majority of paintings have been loaned from private collections, and I am deeply grateful to them for sharing their treasured paintings with a wider audience. Throughout the preparation of the exhibition my family has kindly and patiently supported me. I am also indebted to my late father, Jake Nicholson, and the late Andrew Nicholson for their help. Winifred Nicholson was an extraordinary person, and I was very privileged to have spent much time with her in Cumberland (and latterly Cumbria). Jovan Nicholson

102

Benefactors Mr and Mrs T Ambler Mr and Mrs J Campbell Mr and Mrs T J R Harding Ms J Holland Dr and Mrs A C I Naylor Mr T P Naylor Mr and Mrs J Rink Dr J P L Welch Mr C Woodhouse CVO and Mrs M Woodhouse Patrons Mr Martin Ainscough Mr and Mrs C H Bagot Mr O Barratt MBE and Mrs V Barratt Mrs G Baxter Mr and Mrs D Case Lord and Lady Cavendish Mr J E Coward Mr C Crewdson OBE and Mrs V Crewdson Sir James Cropper KCVO Mr and Mrs W Dufton Mr and Mrs Dunning Miss R D Dunsmore Mr J Entwistle Mr A Firth Mrs B A Fletcher Mr and Mrs D Goeritz Mr R Hasell-McCosh Mr P Kessler MBE and Miss D Rose QL Lady Susan Kimber Mr and Mrs J Lee Mrs D Matthews JP Mr JS Nicoll and Ms L Colchester Mr T Parker Mr C Sanderson Mr and Mrs A Scott Mrs S Thornely DL

Mr and Mrs E Thomas Mr J Townson Dr T Tuohy Mr and Mrs G M Wallace Mr and Mrs P M White Mrs C Whittle Ms J Wood Mr N Woodhouse And all those who wish to remain anonymous

Corporate Patrons Brewin Dolphin Sanlam Private Wealth Supporters

Sir John Fisher Foundation

Exhibition Sponsor

Exhibition Catalogue Sponsor CRANE KALMAN GALLERY Ltd Est. 1949

103


Abbot Hall Art Gallery Kendal Cumbria LA9 5AL Tel: 01539 722464 www.abbothall.org.uk Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry, Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House and Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories are managed by Lakeland Arts (registered charity no 526980) www.lakelandarts.org.uk

CRANE KALMAN GALLERY Ltd Est. 1949

Crane Kalman Gallery Ltd 178 Brompton Road London SW3 1HQ Tel: 020 7584 7566 www.cranekalman.com

Designed and produced by Lakeland Arts. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission of Lakeland Arts .

104


Winifred Nicholson in Cumberland  
Winifred Nicholson in Cumberland  
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