City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Art Review: Paul Gell Watercolours at Sutton Gallery

By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 13 November 2013

Vases of Freesias in Purple and Yellow - Paul Gell
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Sutton Gallery

Last month Sutton Gallery showed an exhibition of exciting paintings by Philip Maltman - a distinctive change from familiar contemporary Scottish artists shown up and down Dundas Street.

Over the next few weeks step out of the November frost to view the work of the late Paul Gell – Watercolours of summer flowers and Asian landscapes to warm the spirit.

But who was he? (Frederick) Paul Gell (1918- 1986) was born in Manchester where as a teenager he met the local artist L.S.Lowry who inspired his interest in studying art. This had to be postponed during WW II when he enrolled with the Royal Air Force.

At Bath Academy of Art he was fortunate to be taught by two of the most significant artists of the time, William Scott and Keith Vaughan. Later, Gell travelled to Italy and around the Mediterranean, capturing on canvas both male figures and abstract landscapes.

In 1978 he moved from London to live near the sea in Plymouth. Mount Stone House had a sheltered walled garden which instilled a love of flowers; in 1983 he published a highly respected book ‘Flowers from a Painter’s Garden'.

Illustrated here is a typical work, “Vases of Freesias in Purple and Yellow”, which deserves detailed study: at first it appears to be a loosely constructed sketch, but look closely. The depth and shade of colours, the delicacy of the petals, the precisely measured flower arrangements in each slender vase, every aspect of this still life drawn with infinite care.

Gell’s passion for flowers can be observed in a variety of botanical paintings here, from a vase of crimson and tangerine Zinnias to “Heat and Sun, Cote d’Azur”, a flourish of verdant green palm trees. There is also a series of landscapes from travels in the Far East depicting trees, pink blossom and lakeside pagodas.

With such a talent for illustration in this manner, it is not surprising that Gell pursued a career as an interior designer working primarily for the Cunard shipping line. This led to commissions to create other ship interiors and work for Heals, the upmarket home furnishings store.

During the 1950s, his paintings were exhibited at the Piccadilly Gallery, London with great success, many purchased by major institutions and art collectors including British Royalty -namely Princess Margaret.

This is a rare chance to see a colourful collection of watercolours by Paul Gell, selected from the Artist’s Estate.

12th - 26th November, 2013 - Tuesday to Saturday 11am-5pm.