Posted on July 5, 2015
Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead from 25th July until 31st October. (Private Preview Tuesday 28th July 2015, 6-8pm) In 2013, Naomi Alexander was invited to exhibit her work at the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead. To coincide with the exhibition, she was also invited to lead an intergenerational heritage art project coordinated by the Jewish Community Council of Gateshead where she worked with a number of girls’ schools and the Zayis Raanon Women’s Social Group from this Orthodox community. The project was very well received and as a result, Naomi became acquainted with community members and was invited into a number of homes to paint typical Orthodox Jewish interiors. This was of particular interest to the artist because her own grandfather was one of the earliest Jewish residents in Gateshead and a prominent member of the synagogue. These new paintings will form the centrepiece for a new exhibition of her work which focuses on the many interiors she has painted over the past 50 years. The earliest painting shows her grandmother seated in her home and dates from when Naomi was a student at Hornsey School of Art. Naomi Alexander has always preferred painting interiors to painting outside as she explains. ‘If I am painting the urban landscape, I find people looking over my shoulder and I cannot concentrate. It is difficult to work with other people around me. I have to work alone. I find a sense of security working within four walls. I have a curiosity and love of the past reflected in old furnishings. And I am nostalgic about buildings and want to capture specific moments so as not to lose them. I love to document the layers of history one can find in these homes.’ Other works in the exhibition were the results of specific commissions. In 1993, Naomi was invited to paint at Birch Grove, home of the Macmillan family. Her paintings of the guest bedrooms used by amongst others, Churchill, De Gaulle and John F. Kennedy will be on display. She will also show paintings from a series of the attics of Chatsworth House, painted in situ when Naomi was invited by the 11th Duke of Devonshire to document the forty attic rooms of the House between 1998 and 2000. These were then exhibited at the Museum of Buxton and two are now in the collection at Chatsworth. Another set of works shows the interiors Naomi painted following her time as artist in residence at Europas Parkas Sculpture Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania. In addition, Naomi has painted in the studios of some of her artist friends including Dame Paula Rego and Ken Howard OBE RA. There will also be a number of paintings of Naomi’s home and studio in London and of interiors at Ein Hod, the artists’ village in Israel which she regularly visits. Naomi Alexander trained as a painter, print-maker and textile designer at Hornsey College of Art (now Middlesex University) and then took a postgraduate course at the Central School of Art, London. She also trained as a Picture Conservator thus gaining knowledge of the techniques of the Old Masters. She is now an Associate Member of the British Association of Painting Conservator/Restorers and a Member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. Naomi’s work has been exhibited in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition most years since 1985. Her work can be found in the collections of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth, Baker Tilly (London), Ben Uri, the London Jewish Museum of Art, the Desert Rats Tank Battalion, Europas Parkas, Lithuania, The Japanese Broadcasting Association, Katherine, Viscountess Macmillan, the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, Paintings in Hospitals of Great Britain, and at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Naomi’s previous exhibition ‘Once Upon a Time in Lithuania has been exhibited around the world to great acclaim including at the London Jewish Cultural Centre, the Lithuanian Embassy in London, the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum in Lithuania, the Richard Attenborough Centre in Leicester, the Jewish Museum of Florida and the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead. An illustrated catalogue with an essay by art critic Nicholas Usherwood will be produced to coincide with the exhibition.