Sheila Girling worked in various media including clay, paint and works on paper but is known predominantly for her large abstract paintings; simultaneously embracing the freedom and experimentation of American abstraction yet pitted against a distinctive English sensibility and rigorous classical training from her Royal Academy Schools background. Influenced by visits to North America in the late 50’s and 60’s with her husband, Anthony Caro, and the work of leading figures of the American art scene including Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Motherwell, Girling’s works became increasingly animated, using the actions and gestures of painting to explore new possibilities of image making and the dynamics of colour.
By the 1980’s, Girling increasingly incorporated cut, torn and pasted papers into her canvases and this fusion of painting and collage allowed her a wider scope for exploring relationships of colour, shape and composition. Much like the cut-outs of Matisse’s later years, Girling said of working with paper “I found myself with collage.. instead of your arm moving the paint haphazardly, as soon as you start working with pieces you can start making decisions about structure – long term decisions. And you can take things away or shift them on the surface”. Distinct in all of Girling’s work is her skill and passion as a colourist; understanding the power of colour to express but also to construct (she collaborated closely with Caro on his painted sculptures). Girling’s late works comprised of a series of smaller scale yet nevertheless bold and assured collages combining handmade papers and paint with the same power and vibrancy of any of her larger scale works.
Girling was born in Birmingham in 1924 and studied at Birmingham School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools, London, where she won several awards. In 1949 she married the sculptor Anthony Caro and together they had two sons and lived and worked in London.
Girling’s first London solo exhibition was in1978 which was followed by numerous others in London, the UK as well in USA, Canada, Germany and Spain.
Sheila Girling passed away in February 2015 at the age of 91. Annely Juda Fine Art is privilidged to have worked closely with her throughout her exhibiting career including a retrospective exhibition in 2015. Notable other solo exhibitions include venues such as the Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Spain, Francis Graham Dixon Gallery and Warwick Arts Trust, London and Acquavella, New York
Girling’s works are represented in many public and private collections at home and internationally including Museum Würth, Kunzelsau, Germany, The Royal Collection Trust, Windsor Castle, London, UK, Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada, IVAM Museum, Valencia, Spain and Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, USA.