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POLLY HOPE (1933-2013)

Cleopatra (2002 England)

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Cleopatra
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Item Medium Description

Oil on canvas

European Dimensions

54.00 cm high   64.00 cm wide

UK/USA Converted Dimensions

21.26 inches high  25.20 inches wide

POLLY HOPE
Type Artist/Maker
Country of origin Wales
Born 1933
Died 2013

Polly Hope, polymath (no pun intended) artist who has lived in the heart of Spitalfields for forty years, was brought up in rural north Wales with which she maintained a close relationship throughout her life.
Imagine, behind high wooden gates, a series of spaces in a redundant 1840s brewery, packed full of artistic endeavour and creativity, inspiring to move through, always enervating to be associated with, ever-changing. Here, two pottery kilns and their sculptural results – great polychrome statues for the Globe theatre, doggy candlesticks in blanc de chine pottery, wonderland panels of blue and white decorated tiles; and there, paintings – portraits of easily recognisable friends and favourite animals – theatre designs in paint and embroidery, great tapestry hangings, all made by the mistress of the domain.
The rooms lit by Polly’s sculptural lights and chandeliers, the walls groaning with future projects and past triumphs in every medium mixed with stimulating masks and other eccentric objects collected from travels all over the world. Perched on the beams diverse curiosities: a mask of an animal skull complete with horns from quite another beast – Q. “what distant tribe made this?” A. “the Hope tribe of Spitalfields”.
In this living, breathing “Willy Wonka” factory of artistic endeavour studio assistants, cooks, administrators and IT personnel from the highways and byways of life flit and assist under the ever constant guidance of the energy centre, Polly herself. So many ideas, projects and commissions to fulfil; and not just in the applied arts, but also short stories and travel documentaries being written for publication in the Sunday Times under a pseudonym and librettos poetically fashioned for the next contemporary opera; so many already under her belt. And no, humans are not the only creatures in the maelstrom of creativity: beloved dogs, never less than three or four of varying sizes, natures and temperament; budgerigars for melodic background sound, heard always when the great grand piano sang with living sounds, and a grey parrot who also was known to add the odd word, not always polite.
And, outside in the yard, a wedding present for her husband, Theo Crosby, a fantastic Palladian chicken house with ten exotic laying hens surrounded by his marble sculptures. Above, on the vast roof terrace over the main studio, planters with a garden rich with colour and scented delights and, like the action below, ever changing and ever feeding the imagination. And the house, never empty - discounting those that lived and worked there – famous opera singers and painters, architects and impresarios, writers and lyricists from all over the world, staying and contributing to the whole.
And, for those of us who remember the inspiring parties and happenings of the 1960s, which regretfully passed into history with the recessions of the 1970s, here they were still held. At least once a year a hundred and more friends gathered to hear an avant-garde new opera, a series of song recitals, a new play or one-man show – to exchange ideas and reminisce, to have their artistic juices recharged and the palates titillated by champagne and food, prepared by her favourite nephew, and often inspired by Polly’s beloved Greece, where she had owned a tiny house on the island of Rhodes since the 1960s, very much her second home.
Polly Hope studied at Heatherley’s Art School, the Chelsea Polytechnic and the Slade School of Art. Her achievements are so consistent and varied they are impossible to list here, but range from her first one-man show in 1968 in Milan, to shows all over Great Britain, many in London, New York, Stuttgart, Athens, Dallas, Melbourne, Amsterdam and Mexico. Also in Cyprus, Lisbon and Los Angeles. She illustrated books and book covers and wrote two novels and a book on textile art; she designed robes for the Queen of Holland and copes for the church, for whom she also designed stained-glass windows and tapestries. She created murals for banks, hotels, the Barbican and the Globe Theatre, and fountains, with her husband Theo Crosby, for Hyde Park and Cwmbram, Gwent.
The list of her achievements goes on and on and can be studied on her website: www.pollyhope.com. Her latest project was an opera about her father which she entitled TANKS. She wrote the much-praised libretto and was in the process of commissioning the music.
Bryan Robertson, the esteemed former director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery wrote:

‘Polly Hope works consistently as a figurative artist with a keen appreciation of abstract principles and she likes to move freely from one medium to another, from drawing to painting, from printmaking to photography, from making sculpture to designing and executing murals and other decorative commissions. She excels as an artist in all these disciplines and sometimes likes to blur the edges herself between different techniques.’ …
‘Polly Hope's great strength in the past has been certain ebullience and buoyancy, an almost baroque flair for detail and profusion of incident and often a light hearted wit in her handling of mythology, contemporary mores and art history if we sensibly include the decorative arts. She has always kept history firmly in its place. The new works have a particular preoccupation with light and shadow, plainness and directness of statement: evocative but rather mysterious present-day images on thin unstretched material which seem also very direct, exact, circumstantial and unprovisional, like selected stills from an on-going but uncompleted film set in some impregnably foreign country.’
Peter Nahum wrote as an introduction to Polly’s latest textile exhibition ‘Stuffed Pictures’:

‘First and foremost her pieces communicate with the viewer with a tender sense of humour. Secondly her joy of using the materials is paramount. Thirdly, she does not shy away from personal intimacies, rather lovingly describing them, beckoning the viewer into situations hidden from tourists, who from the window of their bus observe the streets of a foreign city; whereas Polly, with intimate local knowledge, takes the viewer by the hand into private places and introduces them to family life. If art is about communication then Polly Hope guides you right into the heart of that place. If it is the quirky that makes the ordinary real, then it is Polly’s observation and love of the locality that says to you “come over here and look at this”. And if sometimes Polly’s “reality” does challenge and by doing so may lightly offend, then so does life.’

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gbp 3000.00 (Pound Sterling)

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Peter Nahum

Peter Nahum
5 Bloomsbury Square
London
WC1A 2TA
England

Open: Open by appointment only

Contacts: Peter Nahum, Renate Nahum
Telephone: +44 (0)20-7242 1126
Fax: +44 (0)20-7637 0987
Website: www.leicestergalleries.com
Established: 1984
We deal in:

19th- and 20th-century paintings, drawings and sculpture