“It is a most extraordinary skill to observe,” says Ian Strathcarron. “Sophie literally paints with both hands.” As Chairman of Unicorn Publishing he has written the introduction to a book that tells the story of Sophie’s life.
“Cecil Collins was Sophie’s tutor at the Central School of Art in St Martin’s, London, and he encouraged her to explore the philosophy of art and harness the power of the yin and yang to create the straight and curved lines in her pictures.” Whether the paintings are of landscapes, elephants or life in a variety of locations from Kenya to India, the results are stunning.
Sophie’s family home is at Colston, near Buckfastleigh. As Ian says: “She was to the easel born. Her grandmother, Lady Rayner, was a collecting Courtauld. Exhibitions were a part of family life.”
After leaving college Sophie painted in Venice, Calgary and Africa. It was here she met and fell in love with a white Samburu, Piers Simpkin. One of her favourite places is the Indian Ocean island of Lamu which now has an annual art festival and where Sophie is known as Mrs Painting! Curiously, many of the pictures have different styles. “Yes,” says Ian. “Devon scenes are more precise.” They are lush, green and beautiful but for me, if I had to choose one, it would be in Kenya, Views From Lewa Downs. There is a deeply spiritual quality about the overall impression as if Sophie has revealed the soul of the landscape. Sheer magic. Published by Unicorn Art Solos. Hardback £25
Annette Shawtakes a look at books with a Devon connection