A new exhibition dedicated to artist Cynthia Pell opens at the Bethlem Gallery this month. From 28 August to 20 September, Pell’s thought-provoking depictions of the world around her will be on display in the Bethlem Gallery in the show Ordinary Moments. On display will be works made during Pell’s time at Camberwell Art College, in the French countryside in the 1950s, and drawings made whilst she was residing in Bexley Hospital in the 1970s. Regardless of subject matter, Cynthia’s evocative work depicts an intense emotional view of the world, her experiences and other people.
Cynthia Pell (later Weldon) was born in March 1933 and spent her early life in Finchley, brought up with her elder sister Barbara by their nanny and parents. At boarding school, Cynthia showed a great aptitude for art, which led to her enrolment first at Bournemouth Art College, and then Camberwell Art College in London. In 1957, she had a solo exhibition at the Beaux Art Gallery in London and afterwards, on the pavement outside, set fire to work that had not been sold. The artist’s mental health began to decline in the late 1950s, and she was admitted to St Bernard’s Hospital in Southall 1961. She subsequently spent 10 years in and out of hospital, suffering with bipolar disorder.
Cynthia was admitted to Bexley Hospital in May 1973 during a manic phase, and there met art therapist Britta von Zweigbergk. Britta encouraged Cynthia to visit the art studio at Bexley, and brought materials to Cynthia in her ward so that she could continue to make a record of everything she saw – from fellow patients to nurses and the view from the ward’s windows. Cynthia gave many of these drawings and paintings to Britta, who recently donated a number of the works included in the exhibition to Bethlem Archives and Museum.
Opening 28th August, 3 – 6pm
Exhibition continues: 29th August – 20th September
Wednesday – Friday, 11am – 6pm
Gallery and museum also open Saturday 7th September, 11-5pm.
Portrait of Michael (1974)