Intimate Whispers: Haunting paintings by Evelyn Williams that show the artist facing her own mortality

From the exhibition, Intimate Whispers © Evelyn Williams. Images courtesy of Anima Mundi Gallery

If you've never had the opportunity to appreciate the work of pioneering British artist Evelyn Williams, then a new exhibition in Cornwall this month will take you on a profound journey from "womb to tomb".

In Intimate Whispers at Anima Mundi in St Ives, you'll see tender, intimate and emotional artworks that consider the "subtleties and complexities of relationships and the human predicament". Her very personal paintings have followed her progress through life as a child, lover, mother and grandmother.

She once remarked: "After all the attempts at movement, the pulling and pushing of forms, the agitation – here all goes still and I have a sense of relief the figure is asleep and has found rest."

Also on display are powerful, haunting paintings from her remaining years, which, only too aware that her health was declining rapidly, show Williams facing her own mortality.

Born in 1929, Evelyn Williams trained at St Martin's School of Art from the age of 15 and then the Royal College of Art working alongside the older, largely male students, many of them soldiers returning from service in the Second World War. Despite failing health she continued painting right up to her death in 2012 at the age of 83.

Williams proved difficult for some to categorise during her lifetime, but is regarded, along with friends such as Paula Rego, as having forged a path for female artists. She later founded a trust in her name which has done modest but important work to support artists, particularly women, and the practice of drawing.

In 1961 Evelyn Williams won first prize for sculpture in the John Moores competition and over the years had recognition in many public galleries including a retrospective exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1972.

Intimate Whispers at the Anima Mundi gallery in St Ives runs until 31 March 2020.

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams

© Evelyn Williams