Sheila Girling retrospective proves a fitting tribute to Hampstead’s vibrant colourist

Light At The End 2007 by Sheila Girling

Light At The End 2007 by Sheila Girling - Credit: Archant

It’s your last chance to catch this selection of works by the late artist at Annely Juda Fine Art, says Alison Oldham

If you have the good fortune to visit the Sheila Girling retrospective at Annely Juda Fine Art, now in its closing days, you will witness a rare phenomenon: a selection of works made on the last day of an artist’s life. It was a well deserved privilege for Girling, who died in February aged 90, to be able to make choices from four decades of her most ambitious paintings and recent paper collages. The result is a marvellous tribute exhibition. Girling’s most celebrated talent was as a colourist, a gift she put to good use in vibrant abstract and semi-abstract paintings and collages and in input for the sculpture of her husband, Sir Anthony Caro, who died in 2013. He was “her inseparable companion and her partner in the great art-making adventure of their lives”, writes American art critic Karen Wilkin in the catalogue essay.

The couple married soon after they met as students at the Royal Academy Schools in 1949. They moved to Frognal in Hampstead in 1953 and later had studios in former factory buildings in Georgiana Street, Camden Town.

Wilkin saw Girling’s work there in the mid 1970s, when visiting Caro, and organised her first solo show, in Canada, of watercolours. At that time, influenced by trips to North America, she was also making large abstracts in acrylics.

In 1987, experiments with collage at a Triangle Artists’ Workshop, changed the way she worked. She evolved a fusion of painting and collage, assembling elements cut from painted canvasses. Wilkin describes her most achieved paintings as complex visual harmonies: “Things are never quite what we thought they were at first viewing.”

Until Saturday at 23 Dering Street W1. Today and tomorrow 10am to 6pm, Saturday 11am to 5pm.