Galleries - March 2015

48 GALLERIES MARCH 2015 dramatic and literary arts, the greatness of her achievement to steer such a clear path away from sentimentality, illustration and bathos and towards an art of Blake-ian vision and intense contemplativeness. It hasn’t endeared her to the closed minds that dominate our major national institutions – shamefully they don’t own any – but it has won her a passionate band of private collectors and committed critics and they now form the backbone of a remarkable book that has just been published alongside this show. Entitled ‘A Life’s Work’ (Sansom & Co), it consists of assessments of her work by both those who own and live with it on a daily basis, those critics who have long admired it and an anthology of some of the critical writings and catalogue essays that accompanied a distinguished career that stretched back to the late 1940s. I have never seen a book quite like it and am enormously proud to have been a contributor to it. How can there really be any further argument now about the greatness of her achievement? Human Sympathies All sorts of terms have been used to describe Evelyn Williams’ extraordinary work – visionary, feminist, apocalyptic, expressionist, romantic, even Outsider – but none of them quite do, generalisations which have never wholly captured the subtlety of tone and delicacy of feeling it always uniquely embodies. Writing about her work seven years ago I observed that if you “peel away all these labels . . . Evelyn Williams will emerge, not before time, as a painter and sculptor, most fundamentally, ‘of people and places and their attempts to relate to one another’”. Now, in the first gallery show since her death in 2012, at the age of 83, and consisting of work produced in these last, still hugely productive, years ( Martin Tinney ), this seems to me, more than ever, to get to the heart of the matter. This may not be art- critic speak but then Williams’ work was, from the start, operating in that dangerous zone that bordered on the CODA Nicholas Usherwood E velyn Williams ‘Heloise and Abelard’ 2012 Mirecki’s Double What timing Wladyslaw Mirecki is demonstrating – announced as winner of the £15,000 Lynn Painter- Stainers’ First Prize in mid- February and then having a solo show at Piers Feetham (from 20 March) just a month or so later. Some ignorant critic once observed of his illustrious East Anglian forebear, John Constable, that he was always painting the same landscape, to which Constable responded that he felt by doing so he was driving a nail home – making his artistic point in short – and Mirecki, with his passion for the quiet scenery of Essex’s Colne Valley and the great Chappel Viaduct more or less outside his front door, is doing much the same. Nice to see such persistence rewarded though. Affordable Art Founded 16 years ago, the Affordable Art Fair has been one of the great success stories of the fairs’ world, its user-friendly approach, both to pricing and organisation – prices under £5000, excellent family- friendly cafés and bars, crèches and children’s events – have been game-changers and copied by many in one way or another and, in the process, also become a global franchise. Anyway, the Spring version of the Fair is back at the pavilion in Battersea Park again (12–15 March), the pattern very much as before – why change a success? – with well over 100 exhibitors and all the usual talks and events. If you’ve never been, put a visit in your diary. NU W ladyslaw Mirecki ‘Viaduct with Tank Traps’ at Chappel Gallery