Angela Gladwell M.A. (Royal College of Art) Painter

"I read some artists' descriptions of what they do and find I cannot understand their artspeak. Whatever are they talking about? Certainly their words often seem to bear little relationship to their actual artwork. I hope therefore that my pictures speak for themselves, as painting is, after all, a visual language."

Art colleges: The South-West Essex Technical College and School of Art, Walthamstow, East London, and the Royal College of Art. Painting Department.

I never considered any career other than being a painter, though I earned a living teaching art, briefly in Peckham, then for many years in Hackney, and then for some years in Hastings, East Sussex. Afterwards I taught adult classes for the University of Sussex at the Booth Museum in Brighton. Having taught for some years occasionally for the Barber Art Gallery Education Department Birmingham University,the City Museum and Art Gallery Birmingham, and English Heritage, I now teach regularly for Ludlow Museum Resource Centre.

I became fascinated by natural history as a child and it became a lifelong interest, influencing my work in many ways.

In my childhood it was much easier to find hawk moths and interesting caterpillars in outer London boroughs than it is now. The park behind our house had been turned into allotments during the war (before I was born) and for a time after it had been allowed to go wild. Eventually the respectable municipal flower beds took over again but for some years there were many unofficial temporary nature reserves like these all over London.
I bred exotic giant silkmoths after discovering that eggs could be bought from dealers, watched tadpoles develop, and made collections of natural history objects.

The Royal College of Art (RCA) Painting School, when I was there, was across the road from the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, and was directly connected to the Victoria & Albert Museum. We had a private entrance into the museum through one of the college corridors which I used most days, eating in the V & A cafe and looking at favourite artefacts on the way. The RCA owned a studio in Paris and I spent 3 months there. I painted the reflections in the Seine and, back in London, painted the fountain in the college's greenhouse at the top of the Kensington Gore building. Water continues to be another recurring theme in my work.

We've moved several times. While living in Hastings, on the South Coast of England, I began painting beaches, particularly at Eastbourne. However the beach defences were soon renewed with dully uniform breakwaters replacing wonderful weathered ancient beach architecture and, extraordinarily the chalk fossil rocks were buried under shingle. I now go in search of interesting beaches all over Britain. In the same period I painted a series of very detailed large landscape/townscape panoramas of Hastings, and two more of a nearby farm. I painted Victorian houses, and was commissioned to produce large beach scenes for the then new Sea-Life Centre.
One of the big panoramas was purchased for the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery by Hastings Council, with additional funds from the Victoria and Albert Museum.
I painted as well as taught at the Booth Museum in Brighton, at first painting the zoological specimens but then museum specimens of all kinds. Museum artefacts have become another recurring theme. The themes I've mentioned, there are others, tend to merge. I don't make bounderies between them. It's all painting and the painting is more important than categories or genres. I never wanted to be pigeon-holed as a painter, known for concentrating on just one idea.

I've tended to concentrate on oil painting and water colours, though in the past I've also worked in papier mache ( life-sized ship's figure-heads) and clay. I was commissioned to make a ceramic relief for a factory.

I'm married to the painter Richard Rush (Richard J Rush, RJ Rush), who I met at the RCA, and we now live live on the England, Wales border. We have a son, Max A Rush, who is a landscape photographer and musician and lives in London, he's married and now has twin daughters so we have grandchildren ...

Some years ago I began painting people again.

I continue to be interested in a variety of themes, beaches and rock pools being the starting point for the present works in progress.

The Coronavirus has been both very frustrating but also productive. We have hardly left the house since March 2020 so apart from some gardening I have just got on with painting.

We have at last had the first dose of the vaccine so although our life style is unlikely to change until well into the second half of the year it is at least a positive step.

I did have an exhibition scheduled for Spring of Last year but that along with the adult teaching has been postponed.
Hopefully this can be rescheduled in the future.

Angela Gladwell January 2021

Whirlpool Watercolour


My work has been included in various mixed exhibitions and open shows such as:

  • The Royal West of England Academy 'Tooth& Claw'Invited artist
  • The Whitechapel Art Gallery (Whitechapel Open);
  • The Royal Academy;  Cleveland Drawing Biennale;
  • Leeds Castle Open Landscape Show (prizewinner);  
  • Riviera Gallery, Hastings;
  • New Grafton Gallery;  
  • Beatrice Royal Gallery, Eastleigh;  
  • Metropole, Folkstone;
  • Hereford City Museum and Art Gallery. 'All Creatures Small' Invited artist
  • Camden Arts Centre;
  • Chichester Open;
  • 'Artist's Kew'. Exhibition at Kew Gardens May - June 2006 Invited artist
  • Insekter I Bilde Og Tanke ( Insects in Art) As, Norway 2007 Invited artist
  • Associate Royal Birmingham Society Of Artists 2009-2011
  • Millinery Works Gallery London  Group Landscape exhibition July-August 2014
  • Natural History Museum London Women artists who have painted natural history subjects 2014-15

And in galleries in Hampstead, Malvern, East Grinstead, Chingford.

Solo Shows:

  • The Booth Museum of Natural History (Brighton)'Drawn from Nature'
  • Trinity Arts Centre (Tunbridge Wells);
  • Stormont Rooms, Rye Art Gallery, Sussex2000
  • The Rodd, Presteigne (Powys)
  • Brecon Theatre Powys 2006
  • The Barber Art Gallery.  University of Birmingham Barber Art gallery 2010
  • Silk Top Hat Gallery Ludlow 2009
  • Bewdley Festival invited artist 2013
  • Courtyard Centre for the Arts Hereford 2014

Work is included in public and private collections:

  • The Natural History Museum (London);
  • Bradford University;
  • Brunel University;
  • Nuffield Hospital;
  • Hastings Museum and Art Gallery;
  • Philipa Fawcett College;
  • New Zealand Education Committee.

Publications included in:
October 2004

  • Birds - The Art of Ornithology.   by Jonathan Elphick. Natural History Museum  Scriptum Editions 2006
  • Garden Painters. by Ariel luke  A & C Black London 2009
  • Artist's Kew.       Royal Botanic Gardens Kew 2006
  • Women Painters. Natural History Museum