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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Biggest exhibition of Cumbrian artist Sheila Fell's work

The biggest exhibition of a famed artist’s work is to go on show at the weekend.

Sheila Fell painting
Woman by a stile

Castlegate House Gallery in Cockermouth will host the paintings by acclaimed artist Sheila Fell who died 35 years ago. The painter, who was a protege of LS Lowry, was inspired to create nearly all of her work by her native Cumbria.

Gallery owner Steve Swallow promised an “impressive exhibition” and said it was only the seventh exhibition where people have the opportunity to buy her paintings since her death.

“Fell is arguably the most important landscape painter of the 20th century – Lowry called her the greatest landscape painter of her age,” he added.

“She was a woman in a man’s world – petite, vivacious and loved a party. But her paintings were darker – she painted how the landscape made her feel and gave a picture of real life in Cumbria.”

Five of the works in the exhibition were originally bought from the artist and have not changed hands for almost 40 years – an impressive amount of paintings from one collector given that Fell created fewer than 700 works of art in her lifetime.

Sheila Fell was born in Aspatria in 1931. She studied at Carlisle College of Art but left after her tutors suggested she tried textile design, an occupation deemed to be more suitable for a woman. Fell moved instead to St Martin’s School of Art, London, and later taught at Chelsea School of Art, and it was in that heady art scene of London that she met Lowry at her first solo exhibition in 1955.

The internationally-renowned artist bought some of Fell’s first paintings and he paid her £3 a week for two years to help buy paint and canvases. The pair became friends, regularly travelling to Aspatria – occasionally arriving at her parent’s home by taxi with Lowry wearing his carpet slippers on the journey from Salford.

His most famous views of Maryport were painted with Fell at his side and their friendship lasted until Lowry’s death in 1976. Fell never married but had one daughter, Anna, in 1958 with Greek sculptor Takis Vassilakis.

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