For Charles and Chad
25 September – 6 October 2020
‘My mother was born in Cape Town, South Africa , in 1926. Her father Jerrold Wilks, served in both World Wars. He ran the Cape Hunting and Polo Club and frequently disappeared on long safaris.
My mother was a superb horsewoman. She won at eventing and racing, even beating the European champion at bareback jumping and she loved hunting jackal. When her parents divorced she came to Paris where she lost her trunk of riding trophies but discovered art. (By stroke of luck, I have her jockey’s cap and hunting whip.)
She met my father in 1948 and they married in 1952. They had little money and her time was spent bringing up my sister and me and cooking delicious food for my father’s friends and colleagues.
As soon as I started school, she enrolled in the nearest ILEA college (Inner London Education Authority), for life drawing with Charles Gibbard and Ashton Chadwick (Chad). Charles was an ex male nurse who could name in Latin, every muscle his students were trying to draw. He believed in letting the art materials breathe and talk, “Don’t be afraid to crumble your charcoal, feel the line!”. Chad had a more intellectual approach, “What are you trying to say?”. She would take me to their classes in holidays. In 1976, Chad organised a drawing week in Wales. This was our first working trip together. Others followed in Kenya and Umtata in the Xhosa homeland. She painted Rajasthani’s in India with her friend Kaia Mayer. She frequently returned to Cape Town and was inspired by the Malay bridal procession in Claremont Park.
Art was and is her passion. She filled my childhood with it. My earliest memory is of drawing in her bedroom.
Her life painting has evolved out of the moment in British art inspired by Bomberg and ending in Auerbach. Other artists in this chain of talent include Henry Moore, Elizabeth Frink, Bacon, Freud and Mike Andrews
This exhibition is a lifetime’s work of a woman who was never commercial. The work is not dated and, until recently, not even signed. She drew and painted to the love of it.
I am proud to present, together with Green & Stone, Gilly Sergeant’s work.’