In something of a coup for the city, Peterborough Museum and City Gallery is to host a stunning new exhibition: A 64-Year Conversation about Art, with outstanding works by internationally renowned sculptor Sir Anthony Caro and modernist painter Sheila Girling.
Caro and Girling met at the Royal Academy in 1948 when he used her drawing board by mistake. Their arguments about art apparently started at that first encounter and within six months they were married. Throughout their time together, their debates continued with Girling once describing their marriage as ‘a 64-year conversation about art’. Girling’s intense use of colour proved to be hugely influential on Caro, who was more interested in form than colour.
Perhaps his most well-known piece Early One Morning was originally painted green until Girling suggested that he change it to red. Likewise, Caro used to give feedback to Girling on her pieces, but she made sure that she felt completely comfortable with them beforehand, so that his honest manner didn’t put her off.
Sir Anthony Caro is considered one Britain’s greatest sculptors with an international reputation for his large scale industrial works. He was incredibly prolific during his lifetime, producing thousands of works over six decades which feature in every major contemporary art collection in the world.
He was also responsible for iconic structures such as the Millennium Bridge, linking St Paul’s to the Tate Modern on the Bankside, designs for which were drawn up by himself, architect Norman Foster and engineer Chris Wise.
Through his sculptures, he worked with a wide range of media including wood, paper, clay, bronze and acrylic, examples of which can be seen in the exhibition, but steel remained his favourite. For him, steel enabled him to do things that other materials wouldn’t allow.
Shiela Girling’s work shares many qualities with those of Caro’s. Like him, Girling often worked on a large scale producing canvases that stretch the entire length of gallery walls. And although many of her pieces have more domesticated themes of still life, figures and landscapes, she too presented her vision in an abstracted style.
Her works featured in the exhibition date from the 1990s onwards, a time by which Girling worked predominantly with collage.
In a similar way to how Henri Matisse created his ‘Cut-Outs’, Girling painted on canvas and paper, shaped these pieces through cutting and tearing and composed them on canvas.
She found through this process that she had more control over composition and the colour relationships when making decisions on her work, as opposed to painting straight onto canvas.
A 64-Year Conversation about Art emerged from Vivacity’s relationship with Barford Sculptures, who manage Sir Anthony Caro and Sheila Girling’s estate, during the restoration and re-siting of Anthony Caro’s sculpture Lagoon which belongs to Vivacity’s Sculpture Collection.
Both Caro and Girling achieved huge success in their own right, exhibiting and selling work internationally and have previously been exhibited simultaneously in the same venue. But never before have both artists’ works been presented alongside each other in the same gallery space, making this exhibition truly unique.
Anthony Caro & Sheila Girling: A 64-Year Conversation about Art opens at Peterborough Museum & City Gallery tomorrow (27 th).
Find out more at vivacity.org