Beauty Amidst Hardship

Pamela Willoughby
Highgate Gallery
13 - 26 Oct 2023

Beech Forest: oil on canvas 80x100cm. © Pamela Willoughby 1995.
All rights reserved.

Gallery times: Wednesdays to Fridays 13:00-17:00,
Saturdays 11:00-16:00, Sundays 11:00-17:00,
Mondays & Tuesdays Closed
Private View: Friday 13 October 2023 18:00-20:30

Pamela Margaret Willoughby Gwatkin was born in 1932, in the Wirral, Birkenhead. She and her sister were evacuated during WWII as young children, which would have a profound effect on both young girls. The sisters contracted polio while in secondary school which severely affected their physical strength. As Pamela grew up, her father would try to guide her away from her love of art towards a more financially stable career in banking.

© Pamela Willoughby. All rights reserved.

In spite of this pressure, Pamela Willoughby attended the Laird School of Art, Birkenhead in 1948 and would continue her art training at The Royal Academy, London, where she was admitted on the 9th of December 1952. She moved to Wales with her husband, Robert Gwatkin, and lived there for 38 years from 1960 to 1998, where she developed a deep love of the indigenous forested hillsides. In the 1960s she founded the Forestry Action Group to help conserve its wild beauty for future generations. Through painting, Willoughby wanted to represent the intact, unspoiled areas of the countryside around Powys where she lived, capturing aspects of nature that expressed her life.

In particular, she was fascinated by a mountain and valley called Gesail, and from her visit to South Africa in the 1990s, a brightness of atmosphere entered her paintings, reminiscent of the Fauves in their free use of colour. She believed that expressing the genuine tonal relationships between areas of paint was most important for authentic landscape representation.

© Pamela Willoughby. All rights reserved.

This exhibition represents a life lived with an unrelenting desire to succeed through great hardship and physical weakness. Her final painting period started in 1988 and would continue until her death in March 1998 at her home in Powys. It would produce her largest body of work, over 100 paintings. Some of these paintings are shown here and are a testament to Pamela Willoughby’s love of the Welsh landscape and her determination to succeed.

For further information contact: Daniel Gwatkin
Website: Pamela Willoughby

The Exhibition co-ordinator: Beth Robertson