Stanley Lewis (1905-2009)
In 2010 LLFA, in collaboration with the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, gave Stanley Lewis his first ever exhibition. On this occasion Interiors Magazine commissioned Sacha Llewellyn to write an article about Stanley Lewis (see below).
Sacha Llewellyn had interviewed Stanley in 2009, the last published interview that Stanley gave as he died a few months later. Aware that he would not be present at his exhibition he wrote the following email:
‘... And when my exhibition is up and running, open a good bottle of champagne and celebrate and think of me. No doubt I will be there in spirit to keep an eye on things.’
Paul Liss visited Stanley Lewis in 2008. When he arrived at his studio at Saddleworth Moor, he was greeted by the usual mixture of smoke, from his open fire and his Café Creme cigars. Stanley was reading the Daily Telegraph whose front page was dominated by the headline:
‘Lucian Freud painting sells for record £17m’
Peering over his paper, by way of greeting, Stanley Lewis exclaimed: You’ve been backing the wrong horse Paul!
Since 2009 Stanley Lewis’ star has continued to rise. His work was exhibited at Maastricht this year and his celebrated Mole Catcher is one of the stars of the recently opened ‘True to Life – British Realist Painting in the 1920s and 1930s’ exhibition at the National Galleries of Scotland.
Drawn from Life by Sacha Llewellyn
Centenarian Stanley Lewis looked back on his artistic output as a kind of ‘pictorial diary’, a social history down the decades. Till recently the work has been rolled up in cellars, hidden in sketchbooks or pinned up in his studio in the South Pennines. But now, as Sacha Llewellyn reports, a posthumous exhibition will at last bring to public view this rich personal chronicle of the 20th century.
‘If you look at my work from the 1920s to the present day you can see the social history of each decade, a pictorial diary if you like – nothing is make-believe or fantasy, it is what I saw as I lived my daily life.’ From 2003 until his death in 2009 at the age of 103, Stanley Lewis lived at his daughter’s home in a large studio overlooking Yorkshire moorland, with ‘vast oak beams holding the roof up, and fabulous views. I sleep, eat, work, smoke, read, dream and meet visitors in my room. This is my world now – here I can be free,’ he said. He surrounded himself with thousands of his drawings and paintings (much of his life’s work), as well as art books and objects collected over a lifetime. ‘I call it organised chaos and I know exactly where everything is.’ In this room, Stanley shared his remarkable anecdotes – about his close friendship with Dylan Thomas, his encounters with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his recollections of World War I and II – with frequent visitors, his perfect memory effortlessly recalling the names of the characters that appeared in his canvases.
LISS LLEWELLYN FINE ART NEWS
The William MB Berger Prize for British Art History 2017
Every year the William MB Berger Prize for British Art History is awarded to a scholarly publication that demonstrates outstanding achievement in the field of British Art History. Awarded jointly by The British Art Journal and the Berger Collection Educational Trust, the Berger prize is recognised as the most prestigious award in its field.
LLFA are proud to announce that our publications
have been nominated for this year’s prize.
Sacha Llewelyn’s book, Winifred Knights, published by Lund Humphries, has also been nominated for this year’s prize.
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