1915 – 2012
Although, as a gallery, we concentrate on the artists of the so-called School of Paris, since my (late) discovery of her, I have found the sentiments that Mary Fedden evokes irresistible.
It was a small work by her that took my imagination, a still life of a single apple, while viewing a sale at the now closed Christie’s South Kensington rooms some fifteen years ago. I must have already seen her paintings, but for some reason I never noticed them until the intimacy of that small apple captured me. It spoke of a person with the acute powers of observation of a child, as well as the child’s lack of preconceived ideas. With the capacity of simple wonderment at the mystery of nature. Stupidly perhaps, I never bought that apple, as the price fetched seemed so steep, but soon after that, having followed more sales, I accepted the fact that she is, quite rightly, on the expensive end of the market. So I buy her whenever I can afford it, without regret, because she pays me back with interest, just by having her on the wall everyday.
I have been fortunate enough to see works by Mary Fedden not on public display, made throughout the arc of her long and commendable career, and I am persuaded she is a unique phenomenon. She embodies, for me, all the grace and decency of the dear English women, and men, of the generation born in the tens and twenties, the ones who were young during World War 2. These people were witnesses of, and participants, in dramatic events, their youth spent in sad and dangerous times, which probably changed their view of the world and caused our modern attitudes to come up; yet they never lost their positive attitude, trustful of life and the world and their place in it.
The power of small, familiar everyday objects seen through the eyes of innocence, the dreams of a young girl, an instinctive, deep love of nature: all elements that contribute to forming her art. To them one might add her mastery of technique, refined and honed by the contiguity to her beloved Julian Trevelyan; and finally, and most importantly, more than a sprinkle of pure magic; and the result is immortalized in these deeply charming objects.