27th November 2015

We were delighted to welcome Jane Sellars of the Mercer Gallery, Harrogate yesterday, as she embarked on an enthralling talk on the life and work of Wensleydale born Royal Academician artist, Sonia Lawson.
Jane explained that Sonia’s work is very much derived from her life experiences from the 1950’s to the present.  Born into a creative and bohemian family where her Father, Fred Lawson and her Mother, Muriel Metcalfe were both prolific painters.  Sonia inevitably drew from an early age and in the mid 50’s, secured a place at the Royal College of Art where she graduated with first class honours.  Elected as a Royal Academician is 1982, she remains the only female RA to hail from the Yorkshire Dales.


A captive audience were taken through Sonia’s early work to present day with absorbing detail where Jane revealed how her styles have changed through different periods of her life, from the horror and oppression of war that haunted her paintings through the 1960’s, to maternal love captured in her painting ‘In Portrait of my Mother, Muriel’, to whom she was incredibly close.


Jane’s insight and fascinating detail led the audience through to a Q&A session where many people shared their own experiences of Sonia’s work, along with their own personal encounters with her.


Jane Sellars said ‘The exciting thing for me about talking to the audience at Tennants in Leyburn was that so many people, who had known Sonia when she was a young person living in Wensleydale, had come along to hear what I had to say. It was a bit nerve wracking as well, but I felt happy talking about Sonia’s lovely paintings. There was a real sense of community in the room, I thought, and I was delighted to hear after the talk that so many people in the audience would be coming to the Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate to see the exhibition.’


Afterwards everyone enjoyed a delicious and relaxing Afternoon Tea followed by Rodney Tennants’ ever popular ‘behind the scenes’ tour.
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