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.




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.



STURGESS-LIEF, Christopher

Christopher Sturgess-Lief


Chris Sturgess-Lief was a self-taught painter who created evocative and poetic pictures using a highly individual private symbolism. Adopted  as a baby, possible from ethnic German parents in the Soviet Union, Sturgess-Lief was schooled at Sherbourne, Dorset. After army service in Malaya, he then moved to London and began showing on the Hyde Park railings in the early 1960s. He was spotted by Victor Musgrave of Gallery One, who gave Sturgess-Lief a solo show in 1962. He also exhibited at Rye Art gallery in 1969 and took part in mixed shows at New Vision Centre, Leicester Galleries, Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol in 1963 and others in Japan and the United States.


His Red Painting was included in the Belgrave Gallery’s 1992 show British abstract art of the 1950s and 60s, and in 1997 Julian Hartnoll in St James’ put on a solo exhibition of his work.  A contemporary of the highly sought after Martin Bradley and Alan Davie, his work is comparable both in terms of style and quality.



WILSON, Frank Avray

Frank Avray Wilson

Frank Avray Wilson was born in Mauritius and trained as a scientist, gaining a master’s degree in biology at Cambridge before his strong interest in art led him to study painting in Norway and France. In 1956 Avray Wilson helped Denis Bowen found the New Vision Centre Gallery, a showplace for abstract and other modern art. Initially inspired by American Expressionism, Avray Wilson produced some of the most dynamic abstracts of the post-war period in Britain. His work ranged over spiky linear compositions, through others more spare and geometric towards a mature style that comprised images both disciplined and energetic. Avray Wilson sought “to create a synthetic vitality, more living than life, the means of supplying our anti-vital, anti-human society with intense symbols”. His scientific background was of key importance in understanding his approach to painting, which he expounded in four books.


London-based, Avray Wilson had a first solo show at Obelisk Gallery in 1954 and later showed at Leicester Galleries, Redfern Gallery, the Royal Academy and Austin/Desmond Fine Art amongst others. He gained a strong reputation in Europe, notably in Belgium and in France where he also exhibited. He was represented for many years by the Redfern Gallery and was included in Redfern’s 50th anniversary show in 2007. Recent solo exhibitions in London have been given by Paisnel Gallery and Whitford Fine Art. Avray Wilson’s work is held in the United States by the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg and Cleveland Museum of Modern Art in Ohio. Public collections in the UK include the Arts Council and galleries in Durham, Leeds, Leicester, Swansea and Wakefield.