isabel alexander: artist and illustrator
This overdue and generously illustrated book traces the life and work of Isabel Alexander (1910-1996). It coincides with a major retrospective exhibition at the Mercer Gallery and the acquisition of images of many of the artist’s works by the Bridgeman Library. Like many women artists of her generation, Isabel Alexander struggled for recognition in a field that was overwhelmingly male. Yet her skills in drawing and painting, honed by her rigorous 1930s Slade training, melded with fierce independence and a delight in experimentation to give her work energy, flair and distinction. After a period working in documentary film, drawing and lithography provided the media for her own documentary response to people and conditions in the South Wales coalfield during the desperate wartime years before nationalization. She then moved into book illustration before turning to paint, colour and form, producing distinctive landscapes and seascapes interspersed by finely-drawn portraits, closely-observed plant studies that prompted one reviewer to call her ‘a British Georgia O'Keefe’, and striking forays into abstraction.