Dispersed among the beautiful array of objects in the current exhibition, The Beales Bequest, at The Ken Stradling Collection are clusters of Jennifer Beales’ own artworks. She made many oil paintings and etchings, particularly during the 1970s and 80s when she took printing classes at The Bristol School of Art. These illustrate domestic interiors, many of which were familiar or personal to Jennifer. There are also unusual views from windows and into art studios.
Most of the places depicted are in Bristol. Jennifer always had a little sketchbook in her bag to capture details around the city, as well as further afield. She loved travelling and her art reflects this; it often depicts picturesque Italian towns or countryside.
Humour is another theme in Jennifer’s etchings, which is enhanced by their short and considered titles. For Jennifer, art was a creative way of socialising and having fun, as well as understanding the world around her and recording special moments. Some of the works that particularly stand out as being humorous are those illustrating cameos within art exhibitions. We eagerly stare at the etched figures that in turn thoughtfully consider Impressionist paintings within the frame of the print. This suggests a playful exploration of what it is to look at art and to be aware that we are its viewer.
Jennifer was part of the Clifton Arts Club for many years and often exhibited in their annual exhibition. She won the prize for the public’s favourite painting at the Clifton Art Show in 2012 with a small oil painting in subtle, muted tones that depicted a girl at a window in the style of Gwen John. Jennifer also won a prize at the RWA for the best print in one of their Open Exhibitions, as well as another for the best painting in the RWA Friends Exhibition.
The Beales Bequest will be open to view every Wednesday 10 – 4pm and by appointment until 11th March.