At her first London exhibition in June 1980, Rachel’s father, Ben Nicholson, commented on Still Life on Navy Blue, 1979: ‘I had never realised she could paint so well. I would have been happy to have painted that one myself.’ With the daunting heritage on her father’s side of two generations of Nicholson artists, and, as the daughter of Barbara Hepworth, a famous sculptor, Rachel freed herself from ‘the anxiety of influence’ and created a distinctive and unmistakable style of her own.
Still lifes, the subjects of Rachel’s earliest work from 1975, were a favourite motif of Ben’s and of his father, William Nicholson. Although landscapes and St Ives townscapes were later to play an increasingly important role, ‘The still life,’ she remarked, ‘was more inbuilt, more inherited.’ In this first monograph on the artist, Alan Wilkinson traces the development of her work from still lifes, land- and seascapes, townscapes, to the inside/outside views from her own flat in St Ives, from the houses and flats of friends, and the series of views from the Tate St Ives restaurant. He discusses the most important formative influences on her work.
In the Wilkinson/Nicholson interview, Rachel reminisces about her life in Hampstead from 1934 to late August 1939, when her parents, with the triplets, moved to Carbis Bay on the outskirts of St Ives. The main section of the interview focuses on her career as an artist and on her working methods. ‘Critical views’ consists of four previously published assessments. The sixteen, engaging ‘Appreciations’ were written especially for this book by friends, collectors, art dealers and three present and past Tate curators. Certain words and concepts recur: peace, quiet, quietness, simplicity, balance, calm and freshness of vision. They define the accessibility and captivating charm of Rachel Nicholson’s work.
295 x 235mm
Full colour throughout