Frank Beanland

Frank Beanland was born in Bridlington, Yorkshire. A bold, colourful abstract artist, he attended Hull College of Art 1952-57, then Slade School of Fine Art 1959-61. A Boise travelling scholarship took him to Stockholm 1961-2. Beanland began showing in 1960 at Young Contemporaries then in mixed shows at Drian Galleries, London Group and Gimpel Fils. He settled for a while in the 1960s in Cornwall where he produced much of his best work.

Solo exhibitions include Smiths Galleries One in 1960 and Belgrave Galleries 1999. His work is held by a number of public collections including Leverhulme Trust and Slade School and the Lodz Museum in Poland.






Oswell Blakeston was a painter, writer, film maker and critic. A man of extraordinary talents, Blakeston’s family was of Austrian origin and he was born Henry Hasslacher. At age 16 he ran away from a bourgeois upbringing to become a conjuror’s assistant, a cinema organist and then a clapper boy with David Lean at Gaumont film studios. He began writing film criticism and, with Francis Brugiere, in the early 1930s he pioneered abstract films in Britain. As well as his painting and art criticism, Blakeston was also a novelist, playwright and poet with a “quick eye for the bizarre and the outrageous” according to his long-term partner and fellow artist Max Chapman.

Blakeston had over 40 solo shows, including Drian and Grabowski Galleries and New Vision Centre, and some 100 mixed shows. These included Leicester, Madden and Mercury Galleries. In 1981 he shared a show at Middlesborough Art Gallery with Max Chapman and in 1986 there was a memorial show at Camden Arts Centre. Victoria & Albert Museum and the Ulster Museum in Belfast hold his work, as do national galleries in Finland, Poland and Portugal.




Jacob Bornfriend


Jacob Bornfriend was born in Zborav in Slovakia and educated at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague under Willi Nowak 1930-5. Bornfriend emigrated to England in 1939, settling in London. He had his first solo show at Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London in 1950 and in 1957 painted a large mural for Jew’s College, London. Initially painting still lives and landscapes, Bornfriend’s work – which exudes a quiet beauty – increasingly turned towards the abstract.

The Tate Gallery, Southampton City Art Gallery, Leeds Museum and Art Gallery, several colleges at Oxford and many galleries abroad hold his work. These include Museum of Bochum, Germany and Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand. Slovak capital Bratislava’s City Art Gallery gave him a retrospective in 2008 and Bornfriend’s work was included in a mixed exhibition at the London Jewish Museum of Art in 2009. Connaught-Brown showed Bornfriend’s work alongside two other émigré artists in 2013.



BOWEN, Denis

Denis Bowen


Denis Bowen was born in Kimberly, South Africa of Welsh parentage but left for England as a child. He studied at the Royal College of Art from 1946-50, where teachers included Rodrigo Moynihan, John Minton and Carel Weight. Bowen soon made his name as a leading experimental artist; in 1952 with other members of the ICA he founded the Free Painters’ Group and from 1956-66 he directed the New Vision Centre, initially with Frank Avray Wilson and Halima Nalecz. This became the focal point in London for work of advanced artists from Europe and elsewhere.

From 1969-1972 he taught at Victoria University, British Colombia and in later life he was a leading light in Celtic Vision which he co-founded in 1982. Bowen showed widely, at the Redfern Gallery and elsewhere, and major late career retrospectives included Belgrave Gallery, London in 2001, Blyth Gallery, Imperial College in 2002 and Rome Museum of Modern Art in 2006. His work is held by the Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, British Museum and many regional collections in the UK. It is also in public collections in Australia, USA, Canada, Italy, Poland, Macedonia, Israel and elsewhere.




John Bratby RA


John Bratby was and remains a controversial artist; a founder member of the Kitchen Sink School of realist art in the 1950s, he was described by Charles Saatchi – who devoted an entire room of his first Saatchi Gallery to Bratby – as being likely to “knock the youngsters out”. Bold images, vigour, thick paint and primary colours were Bratby’s trademarks. Bratby was born in London and studied at the Royal College of Art 1951-4. Through the 1950s Bratby regularly showed at Beaux Arts Gallery in solo exhibitions, the first being in 1954. Having won a number of scholarships, including from the Italian government, Bratby went on to teach at the Royal College of Art 1957-8. He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale both in 1956 and 1958, where on both occasions he won the Guggenheim Award. He was elected RA in 1971.

Although slipping out of fashion in the later 1960s and 1970s, his reputation recovered in part due to the championing of Julian Hartnoll. In 1991 the National Portrait Gallery held a retrospective and in the same year there was a solo show at Albemarle Gallery and the Mayor Gallery included him in the group show The Kitchen Sink Artists Revived. The Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Saatchi Gallery, Museum of Modern Art New York and national galleries of Canada and New Zealand are amongst those that hold examples of his work.





John Christoforou

Christoforou was a powerfully gestural abstract and figurative artist who used a brilliant palette, “a savage expressionist”, born in London to parents of Greek origin. He was an important pioneer of the Nouvelle Figuration movement which emerged in the 1960s. This movement, which incorporated the work of Bacon, De Kooning and others, was a form of expressionism which reached far beyond the harmonised vision of perceptual reality, to create highly charged “infra-vital” images. The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Athens School of Fine Art in late 2002 held a major retrospective in Athens honouring “an artist who made Greece famous in Europe and the whole world”.

Christoforou moved with his father to Greece in 1930 and he studied at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Athens before returning to England in 1938 and serving in the Royal Air Force 1941-46. He had his first solo show in 1949 at 20 Brook Street Gallery. In 1951-2 Christoforou lived and showed in Paris, destroying all his remaining earlier work. Returning to London in 1953 he showed with Gimpel Fils and then joined Victor Musgrave’s Gallery One, where he had a number of solo shows, before settling in Paris in 1957. In 1965 Christoforou received the prize of the International Association of Art Critics in London. He went on to exhibit extensively in the United States, Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium and elsewhere. Retrospectives included Randers Kuntsmuseum, Denmark 1974, L’Ecole Regionale des Beuax-Arts d’Angers 1985 and Fondation d’Art Moderne en Picardie, Amiens 1988. Tate Gallery, the Government Art Collection, the Greek National Art Gallery and public collections in France, Colombia, Bangladesh, Mexico, Denmark, South Korea, Taiwan and Austria, amongst others, hold his work.




Ithell Colquhoun

Colquhoun was a pioneer surrealist artist, occultist, writer and poet. She also experimented with different painting techniques, such as enamel and decalcomania, throughout her life. Born in Assam, India she studied at Slade School of Fine Art 1927-31, then privately in Paris and Athens. She showed extensively, including London Group, Contemporary Art Society, Tate Gallery and abroad and had solo shows at Fine Art Society, Mayor Gallery and elsewhere. She was expelled from the London surrealist group in 1940 for refusing to conform to its dictates. She continued as an independent painter in London and Paul, Cornwall, and with touring exhibitions abroad.

Newlyn Orion Gallery held a major retrospective in 1977. Colquhoun was represented in the last Tate Gallery exhibition on surrealism and in the Mayor Gallery, London’s 2009 exhibition on British Surrealism. In addition to the Tate Gallery, her work is held in public galleries at Hove, Bradford and Cheltenham amongst others and the National Trust manages her estate. A monograph on her life and work was published in 2007.





John Melville


John Melville was born in London but moved in childhood to Birmingham where he remained until his death. Largely self-taught, Melville towards the end of the 1920s became associated with the Modern Group in Birmingham but by the early-1930s he and his brother, the noted art critic Robert Melville, were also connected with the Surrealists in London. Melville exhibited from the early 1930s at St George’s Gallery, Wertheim Gallery, Royal Society of Birmingham Artists (RBSA) and elsewhere. The Melvilles, along with Conroy Maddox, refused to take part in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London accusing it of showing too many artists they did not consider to be Surrealists. Nevertheless, by the late 1930s and early 1940s John was regularly featured in international shows of Surrealist and Dada art and in 1938 his works were banned from an exhibition in Birmingham by local councillors as being “detrimental to public sensibility”.

Melville’s reputation suffered after the interruption of the war years and a solo exhibition at Hanover Gallery, London in 1951 was both a commercial and critical failure. Although he taught for a time at Birmingham University, Melville retreated into isolation artistically and developed along his own strange path. His son Theo has described his works as having a “frightening quality”, showing “infinite regression, a kind of annihilation” and there being “an apocalyptic element” in his later work. But despite a large retrospective at the R.B.S.A. Galleries in Birmingham in 1967 and a solo show of watercolours and drawings at the University of Birmingham in 1969, he remained a largely neglected painter until his reputation revived with the fiftieth anniversary of the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition. Mayor Gallery then included him in its major survey of British Surrealism, whilst Blond Fine Art had a solo retrospective show in 1986, Gothick Dream Fine Art a memorial exhibition in 1987 and the Westbourne Gallery another in 1996.

Even before this ‘revival’, Melville’s paintings had remained an important part of the Surrealist canon in Britain and had been shown in the Hayward Gallery’s 1978 exhibition ‘Dado and Surrealism Reviewed’ and Galleries 1900-2000 in Paris’s ‘Les Enfants d’Alice: La Peinture Surrealiste 1930-60 en Angleterre’ in 1982. Melville’s work is also held by the Ertegun and Filipacchi Surrealist collection (arguably the best Surrealist collection in the world) and was shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York’s exhibition “Surrealism: Two Private Eyes” in 1999. His restoration to at least a certain level of prominence was confirmed when the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery held an exhibition in 2001 entitled “Surrealism in Birmingham” to celebrate Birmingham’s contribution to the avant-garde in the 20th Century, which concentrated on Melville, Conroy Maddox and Emmy Bridgewater. Later solo retrospectives include Millinery Gallery 2006.




Theo Mendez


Theo Mendez was an artist in oil, acrylic and collage who was born in and lived in London. He studied at Camberwell School of Art, 1950-7, and at London University 1957-8. Teachers included Martin Bloch and Michael Rothenstein. Mendez taught at Camberwell 1958-84, becoming head of textiles in 1976, before retiring to paint full-time. He took part in group shows at Redfern Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, Bear Lane Gallery in Oxford and Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol, and in the 1972 and 1979 John Moores Liverpool Exhibitions. Retrospectives included Duncan Campbell Fine Art in 2002, four solo shows at Highgate Fine Art and an exhibition of his early oils at Whitfield Fine Art, London in 2010. Museum of London holds his work.

Mendez frequently visited Paris, soaking up the atmosphere in cafes and getting inspiration for new paintings and collages and a trip to New York in 1980 added breadth to his vision. In 1990 Mendez wrote about his painting “It is not representational or literal .. but sometimes symbolic of an event or place witnessed, felt or experienced … a moment in time. Each work must ultimately stand by itself without being part of a series or having a title or clue as to its origin. I love the variety of the medium, the spreading of colour and the interaction of colour and colour areas …sometimes the work comes almost directly via music, to which I listen constantly – several hours every day, like food and drink. It is essential if I achieve anything at all, it has, for me, to stand lasting contemplation”.




Jack Smith


Jack Smith was born in Sheffield, before studying at St Martin’s School of Art 1948-50, Royal College of Art 1950-3 and then settling in London. He showed at Beaux Arts from 1953, initially painting in a neo-realist ‘Kitchen Sink’ style. But from the mid-1950s he became more interested in the play of light on shapes and eventually became a meticulous abstractionist. Smith taught at various colleges and in 1956 won first prize at the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition, by which time he was also showing in the United States. Major exhibitions included retrospectives at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1959 and Serpentine Gallery 1978. In more recent years Smith was represented by Flowers East Gallery in London. The Tate Gallery, Arts Council, British Council and many provincial and foreign galleries hold his work.