Arts Reviews

Winifred Nicholson: Liberation of Colour @ Nottingham Lakeside Arts

Nottingham Lakeside Arts’ latest exhibition, Winifred Nicholson: Liberation of Colour, is a marvellous exploration of the use of colour in impressionism. On show until the 4th June in the Djanogly Gallery, the exhibition shows the development of lesser-known artist Winifred Nicholson through her life, and the influence her various trips across the world had on her creations. Organised by the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (part of Teeside University), NLA marks just a stopping point for the exhibition as it tours the country.

“She has long been (incorrectly) associated with the artist colony there”

Winifred is perhaps most commonly associated with her husband Ben Nicholson (who went on to marry Barbara Hepworth), though she is by no means unworthy of being known for her own work. Born the eldest of three children, she came from a reasonably well-to-do family, and was able to fund several trips across Europe and beyond; during her life she travelled to Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, Scotland, Greece, Morocco, Paris and Switzerland. In England she mainly lived in Cumbria, though Winifred travelled frequently across Britain, including to St. Ives, where she has long been (incorrectly) associated with the artist colony there.

Much of Winifred’s work focuses on flowers and nature, with a particular love of flowers stood on windowsills with the outside landscape behind. The exhibition reflects this, with a wide range of paintings from across Winifred’s career on display. Interesting to consider is her wide use of colour theory to make the flowers look as radiant as possible against their landscape background; look out for bright yellow daffodils against a background of blue and purple, or red flowers standing out against their green leaves. This exhibition truly is lovely to see!

“Art always seems to have been something of a respite for Winifred”

Despite the emotional troubles she was dealt throughout life (suspected infertility, divorce from her husband, and the suspected suicide of one of her closest friends), art always seems to have been something of a respite for Winifred; the colours remain vibrant and striking, and the only suggestion of any emotional upheaval is the sudden change in locations as she moved across the world.

Later in life, Winifred became more interested in prisms and how they refracted light to create a rainbow of colours. One of the rooms is dedicated to this, with interpretations ranging from realism to outright abstraction. It’s incredibly interesting to see how one artist’s work can adapt and change across time to such an extent.

Winifred Nicholson: Liberation of Colour, is a strikingly beautiful exhibition, and once again NLA is host to a truly interesting display of works. From still life, to landscape, to abstract, and even one or two portraits, there is something to suit every taste, and I encourage you to take a look!

Ellen Smithies

Image credits: Ellen Smithies, with thanks to Nottingham Lakeside Arts.

‘Winifred Nicholson: Liberation of Colour’ will be shown at Nottingham Lakeside Arts until the 4th June 2017, for further information see here.

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