Rose Hilton: Giving Life to Painting

Blue Cafe low res

Rose Hilton: Giving Life to Painting

September 29 – December 19 2014

Monday – Friday 9:00 – 17:00

Private View: Saturday, October 4th, 17:30 – 20:00

Q&A with Rose Hilton and Dr Ben Thomas, November 26th, 19:00 PM, Studio 3 Gallery

Studio 3 Gallery is delighted to announce a major exhibition of paintings by Rose Hilton this Autumn. Titled ‘Giving Life to Painting’ – a phrase taken from Post-Impressionist Pierre Bonnard’s notes –the exhibition features over twenty-five of Hilton’s lyrical, sensitive and joyful canvases including recent landscapes, still-lifes, interiors and nudes, but also key works from earlier in the artist’s career, such as the poignant Roger’s Room (1973) depicting her late husband, the artist Roger Hilton. Born in Leigh, near Tonbridge, this exhibition is the first solo show that Hilton has had in her home county of Kent.

Rose Hilton was born Rose Phipps in 1931 in Leigh, near Tonbridge, and grew up there as part of a strict Plymouth Brethren family. Hilton studied art at Beckenham School of Art, and then at the Royal College of Art, where she was part of a brilliant generation of students including Robyn Denny, Richard Smith, David Hockney, and Joe Tilson. She married the painter Roger Hilton in 1965 and moved with him to Cornwall, where she has lived ever since, becoming part of the well-known St. Ives school, including such artists as Patrick Heron, Terry Frost, Peter Lanyon and Bryan Winter. Hilton’s importance was recognized in 2012 with a retrospective exhibition at Tate St Ives.

Unlike her prominent female peers Gillian Ayres and Sandra Blow, Hilton did not chose the path of painterly abstraction typical of the St. Ives school but decided instead to work within a post-impressionist tradition dominated by the influences of Bonnard, Vuillard and Matisse. Hilton also stresses the importance for her painting of such pioneering women in British art as Winifred Nicolson and Mary Potter. Although he had initially ‘decreed that there should be only one painter in the house’, Roger Hilton became a generous supporter of Rose Hilton’s art, and provided her with an understanding of how a picture ‘holds up’ by balancing freedom of execution with compositional structure.

The art critic Andrew Lambirth (The Spectator) has rightly stated that:

‘There is a beguiling tranquillity to many of Rose Hilton’s paintings. Here is a civilized world where gentleness prevails, a radiant world of shimmering fields of high-keyed colour in which the traditional subjects of art – figure painting, landscape and still-life – take on new zest and relevance’.

The exhibition is curated by Ben Thomas (Curator of Studio 3 Gallery), in partnership with Messum’s Fine Art, who will also be featuring Rose Hilton’s art at their Cork Street Gallery in London. A catalogue with essays by Andrew Lambirth and Ben Thomas will accompany the show.

Image: Blue Café, Rose Hilton, 2007