01/12/2022 - 27/01/2023
Early-Mid C20th - Painting
Emmy Bridgwater - The Edge of Beyond
“Bridgwater brought a new purity of outlook to British Surrealism, returning to the early days or the movement, to it's “automatic” beginnings in France. The swirling lines, plant forms and vaguely suggestive forms seem to have been exorcised from the deep recesses of the mind.” - André Breton
On 11 June 1936, the International Surrealist Exhibition opened in London. Huge crowds brought Piccadilly’s traffic to a standstill. Visitors were both awed and baffled as Dylan Thomas offered around teacups of boiled string, Salvador Dalí delivered a lecture while wearing a full deep-sea diving suit, and Sheila Legge strutted through the show dressed as The Phantom of Sex Appeal, carrying a prosthetic leg. None was more impacted by this dramatic arrival of Surrealism in Britain than a 30-year-old artist and poet from Birmingham: Emma ‘Emmy’ Bridgwater.
Bridgwater was a leading member of this ambitious circle of artists and writers. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, they acted as a unified collective, organising lectures and debates, to which they also invited Birmingham-based academics and musicians, while working individually on their own Surrealist visions, each developing a unique style.
Deservedly joining the ranks of these ‘rediscovered’ surrealists, who should never have been forgotten, is Bridgwater. Highly regarded during her lifetime, by both critics and the founders of surrealism, she was a visionary force who changed the face of art history.
Including never-before exhibited paintings, collages and drawings, this exhibition presents her as an imaginative surrealist, whose complex narratives of the subconscious speak for themselves. A heroine of female, Birmingham and British surrealism, her surrealist state of mind still lives on, as it should.
Mayfair 21 Cork St, W1S 3LZ