Tuesday, 5 May 2015

350 AS A GENERAL RULE LET THE ARTIST BE SENT FOR by SHEILA WALLIS

What I Tell You In The Dark
 at
The Crypt, St John's Church, Waterloo

The title is the advice given to the families of the newly-deceased by Southworth & Hawes, the acclaimed Boston daguerreotypists, who were masters of the process and known world-wide for their beautiful compositions. I'm writing this just after reports that more than  200 strangers attended an Edinburgh funeral to say good bye to an unidentified baby boy, whose body was found swaddled in a blanket nearly 2 years ago: a contemporary way of recognising and honouring an untimely death.

Sheila Wallis' art understands the vulnerability of  every human being, our internal and external conflicts. Perhaps her compassion and honesty as an artist are not unconnected with the fact that she was born at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

She works within the tradition of orthodox, realist painting. She began with self-portraiture out of economic necessity. In 2009 she won the coveted Threadneedle Prize with a nude self-portrait. Gradually her work acquired a new freedom:  a delicate but powerful ability to convey how vulnerable we are without being exploitative or cruel. We have all  experienced family care and concern, love and loss, the things we can choose - and those we cannot escape. More recently she has been inspired by early post-mortem daguerreotypes which are linked  inescapably with our own transient temporal existence.



  After winning the Threadneedle Prize, Sheila gave up her job working for the NHS in order to concentrate on painting, deciding that...
“...it’s time to take my art more seriously.” Of her latest work she says "The seeming alchemy of the Victorian daguerreotype, captured by the earliest cameras and fixed onto prepared plates. is as unique as any watercolour. My project is to discover if these once private heirlooms might be made to speak of the more universal human themes of longing and limitation'.


www.sheilawallis.comsheilamarywallis@icloud.com
stjohnswaterloo.org/
www.london-se1.co.uk/places/st-johns-waterloo
www.threadneedleprize.com/ 

You will find an interesting description of  daguerre history and process in
daguerre.org/resource/history/history.html

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