EMMY BRIDGWATER British, 1906-1999

Overview

Emma Frith Bridgwater (b. 1906, Birmingham – d. 1999, Solihull, UK), known as Emmy Bridgwater was born in Birmingham in 1906. A poet and a painter of world repute, she studied art at Birmingham Art School under Fleetwood Walker, later at the local art school in Oxford, and, for short periods, at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art run by lan McNab.

 

In 1936 she visited the International Surrealist Exhibition in London, which she regards as a "transformation" for her and from then on she substantially altered her approach to her work In the late 30’s she joined the “Birmingham Group of 7” artists whose members included Conroy Maddox and John Melville. They went on together to join the London Surrealist Group in 1940.

 

Her work is recognised as a valuable contribution to “automatic drawing” - as if guided by the subconscious – and is m true surrealist style. She was included in London Gallery Exhibitions of the Surrealist Group at that time. During and after the war years she lived in London, and in addition to her painting, contributed surrealist stvle poems to “Arson”, edited by Toni del Renzio; to "Free Unions Libres" and "Le Savoir Vivre" in Brussels.

 

Her first one-woman exhibition was at Jack Bilbo's Modern Gallery in London (1942), and later she exhibited in Paris, at the International Surrealist Exhibition in 1947.

 

In the 60's she came back to the Midlands, living in Birmingham and then in Stratford-upon Avon for a number of years. In Stratford-upon-Avon she co-founded the “2-D” Group. There she painted and exhibited her work with the group locally. In the 70's she went to live in London again, where she stayed until mid-80s until finally returning to Solihull in Birmingham.

 

Andre Breton, said about Emmy's drawings in 1940s: “Bridgwater brought a new purity of outlook to British Surrealism, returning to the early days or the movement, to it's “automatic” beginnings in France. The swirling lines, plant forms and vaguely suggestive forms seem to have been exorcised from the deep recesses of the mind.”

 

Toni del Renzio wrote about her pictures in 1982 for the exhibition catalogue pp 31 (Gallery 1900-2000, Paris): “We do not see these pictures. We hear their cries and are moved by them. Our own entrails are drawn painfull from us and twisted into the picture whose significance we did not want to realise.”

 

Michel Remy, professor of art history at the University of Nice and author of Surrealism in Britain, describes her influence as "of the same importance to British surrealism as the arrival of Dalí in the ranks of the French surrealists".

Works
Exhibitions