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11:29 AM 15th September 2015

Sonia Lawson RA: A Major Retrospective At Harrogate's Mercer Gallery

Angel Reader by Sonia Lawson
Angel Reader by Sonia Lawson
Paintings, Passions and Alarms is a major retrospective exhibition celebrating the creative work of painter Sonia Lawson RA.

This ambitious show brings together paintings from the 1960's to the present with loans from a variety of collections including Museums Sheffield and Arts Council England.

Sonia Lawson RA was born and raised in Wensleydale, into a creative and bohemian family, with both her mother, Muriel Metcalfe, and father, Fred Lawson, being well respected painters.

Portrait of my Mother by Sonia Lawson
Portrait of my Mother by Sonia Lawson
Lawson drew from an early age, securing a coveted place at the Royal College of Art in the mid 50's in London where she graduated with First Class Honours. She went on to exhibit widely and was honoured to be elected as a Royal Academician in 1982; she remains the only Academician to come from the Yorkshire Dales.

Sonia Lawson's biographer Nicholas Usherwood wrote of her paintings that "...in these forgetful times (they) remind us of our humanity and the wholeness of our sensuous experience of this world.'

Curator Jane Sellars comments: "This major exhibition charts the essential relationship between Lawson's work and her life experience, from the 1950s to the present. Her passion for painting coincided with maternal love, literary sensibilities and a powerful sense of political justice. She explored various art media, but it is her large-scale oils on canvas, the big subject pieces, that soar with her powers as a painter."

Paintings, Passions and Alarms is a journey through the range of themes explored within Lawson's work, from her early work derived from the landscape, rural and industrial, which is bold and Expressionist in style, through to more personal themes in her later work.

The horrors and oppression of war haunted her paintings throughout the 1960's, with works such as Figure at Dawn revealing the brutalizing impact of war on people's lives.

In the 1970s the demands of motherhood and family diminished Lawson's output, but still she grappled with war's terrors. In the 1980s she referred back to wartime in North Yorkshire, the excitement of life around Catterick Camp and Richmond, with works such as Garrison Town.

In the 1980's she embarked on a new body of work in homage to Yorkshire's great literary family, the Brontės, inspired by a trip to Haworth Parsonage. The work also contains a strong autobiographical narrative apparent in paintings such as Teatime at Haworth with the Brontės (1981).

Paintings, Passions and Alarms is at the Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate from 14 November to 7 February 2015, admission is free.

Opening times are 10am - 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday and 2 - 5pm on Sundays. Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays. Closes at 4pm November to March.

Entry is free.

For more info visit www.harrogate.gov.uk/mercerartgallery