Sim­ply sub­lime

An­thony Smith in­tro­duces us to an artist whose name, he says, should be on ev­ery­one’s lips...

EDP Norfolk - - Norfolk Nature - An­thony Smith direc­tor of in­ter­na­tional art deal­ers ju­lia­sor­

We live in a coun­try with an amaz­ing, deep and sig­nif­i­cant artis­tic her­itage. Our county too has its share of artists and has been the inspiration to oth­ers who have been im­por­tant both ar­tis­ti­cally and his­tor­i­cally.

This month, I’d like to in­tro­duce you to an artist I feel is of such abil­ity that her name should be on ev­ery­one’s lips. I was in­tro­duced to her by an old friend of mine, David Tat­ter­sall (Se­cret Art Col­lec­tor), some years back and the mem­ory of her and her art stays with me to this day.

Rather than in­tro­duce her im­me­di­ately, it is of in­ter­est to look at her his­tory. Her fa­ther, Alan, was a renowned artist and from his time as a stu­dent at the Royal Col­lege of Art he was men­tored by the artist Sir Wil­liam Rothen­stein.

After win­ning the Bri­tish Prix de Rome for mu­rals, he spent two years there, re­turn­ing home de­ter­mined to live and work as an artist with some part-time teach­ing at the Royal Col­lege of Art. Per­haps to­day he is best re­mem­bered for his ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­con­struc­tion draw­ings of our Bri­tish her­itage.

Her mother, El­iz­a­beth, is re­garded as one of the finest wa­ter­colourists of her time, a reg­u­lar ex­hibitor at the Royal Academy and whose work is held by nu­mer­ous public col­lec­tions, in­clud­ing The Tate. Her work is, in my opin­ion, sim­ply ex­quis­ite.

Into this world, Ju­lia Sor­rell was born and nur­tured. She said of her child­hood: “As a child, I was al­ways en­cour­aged to draw and I must have picked up some of their ideas.”

My first im­pres­sion of Ju­lia and her hus­band Ian was of amaz­ingly gen­er­ous and hos­pitable peo­ple, warm and em­brac­ing. But it was Ju­lia’s art that re­ally touched me.

Here I saw com­plex, al­most math­e­mat­i­cal im­agery or even an orig­i­nal geometric pais­ley-like ren­der­ing of the Nor­folk land­scape. Tree trunks, in­ter­twined and com­plex… sen­sual, leaves, flow­ers…erotic as much as el­e­gant. Mag­i­cal.

I was shown some early works, in­clud­ing a won­der­ful self-por­trait – a ques­tion­ing and in­quis­i­tive young woman with a nat­u­ral beauty in a sim­ple red jumper against a red back­ground from 1980 – that came sec­ond in the first Na­tional Por­trait Gallery Por­trait Award.

Although Ju­lia’s por­traits are su­perb, it is her ren­der­ing of the land­scape and veg­e­ta­tion that sets her so apart from oth­ers for me. Hers is an orig­i­nal, unique vi­sion, one that is un­de­ni­ably fresh. These are, in my opin­ion, sim­ply mas­ter­works. Her Trees in

Cul­ford Park (1999) is a per­fect ex­am­ple of this as are Desert Rose,

Bulls or Leaf­s­cape from 2006. Ju­lia’s re­cent works take a new di­rec­tion, fo­cus­ing on her imag­i­na­tion as well as us­ing the hu­man form as both sub­ject and as part of the land­scape. The works are ex­e­cuted with sub­tle colour­ing and many show ev­i­dence of her thought pro­cesses with the re­ten­tion of what are best de­scribed as con­struc­tion marks. They are sculp­tural forms as much as painted and her math­e­mat­i­cal/geometric style con­tin­ues through these works.

In my hum­ble opin­ion, Ju­lia is sim­ply one of the finest artists in this coun­try, not just in our county, to­day.

ABOVE: The Muse, pen­cil, pen and ink, wa­ter­colour 2013, Ju­lia Sor­rell

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