Margaret Thomas NEAC (1916-2016)


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About the Artist

Margaret Thomas was a lyrical painter essentially in the English tradition. In her work, as in her life, there was a down-to-earth poetry and a complete rejection of all pretentiousness. Her key influences were Braque and Philip Wilson Steer and the creative tension produced between these two giants led to what she termed as 'a long tug-o-war' in her studio. The happy result was a flow of evocative pictures, underpinned by robust draughtsmanship and deft, almost abstract design. Working solely in oils, and always indoors, Margaret Thomas painted commonplace subjects (flowers, interiors, water-dominated landscapes) which were rendered extraordinary by her singular vision. Somehow she never repeated herself, but always found a fresh angle and a new light. Returning most frequently to the motif of a dying flower, she draws endless inspiration from these spiky, spectral and sculptural presences. "Fading, dried, left to themselves, flowers begin to die from the beginning. When picked they must be left alone to fulfil their destinies, to orientate to the light, to sort out their relative strengths, to stabilise and to mature. They cannot be arranged. All this I seek to show in my paintings." But rather than appearing elegiac, each Thomas flower piece attests to the strength and the beauty of nature.


The New English (represented in, 2006) by Kenneth McConkey, ISBN 1903973988

Biographical Details, Exhibitions & Awards

1916 Born September 26, London
1934-36 Studied at Sidcup School of Art
1936-38 Scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art
1938-39 Studied at the Royal Academy Schools under Thomas Monnington & Ernest Jackson
1941-44 Worked on a dairy farm, then in an apiary in Wiltshire
1943 First work Still Life of Norfolk Ham exhibited at the Royal Academy. Later showed in the Summer Exhibition for 46 consecutive years.
1947 Elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists
1949 First solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, London (second show 1951)
1951 Elected a member of The New English Art Club and has shown with the group annually ever since.
1952 First solo exhibition at Aitken Dotts, later the Scottish Gallery, in Edinburgh (further shows 1955, 1966, 1982).
1956 Bought a studio in Edinburgh overlooking The Mound
1961 Edinburgh Festival exhibition at the Outlook Tower. Exhibition at the Canaletto Gallery, London.
1963 Exhibition at Howard Roberts Gallery, Cardiff.
1964 Exhibition at The Minories, Colchester.
1967 Exhibition at Queen's University Belfast (second Belfast show, at the Octagon Gallery, 1973).
1971 Awarded the De Lazlo Medal by the Royal Society of British Artists (and again in 1996).
1972 Bought the Watch House on the quay at Orford as her first studio in East Anglia. Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London.
1977 Exhibition at the Gallery Paton, Edinburgh
1981 Winner of the Hunting Group Award for the Oil Painting of the Year
1982 Exhibition at Snape Maltings Concert Hall Gallery, Suffolk
1984 Moved to a converted watermill in Norfolk.
1988 First exhibition with Sally Hunter Fine Art, London (further shows 1991, 1995 and 1998).
1992/2004 Exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol.
2000 Settled fully in Norfolk.
2004 Exhibition at Messum's Fine Art, London