During the 1950s, Sandra Blow pioneered the emergence of abstract art, introducing the British field to a new expressive informality. Favouring cheap, low-grade materials such as sawdust, sackcloth, plaster, and liquid cement; Blow created work with equal emphasis on tactility and aesthetic. Inspired by Alberto Burri’s ‘art informel’, Blow’s early large-scale works are characterised by a freedom of expression, randomness of gesture, and pictorial spontaneity.
Certainly, her 1959 painting Space and Matter is defined by a frenzied energy. Overlaid with multiple textures and gestural brushstrokes, the work succeeds in challenging the ‘macho cult’ of abstract art that Blow openly set out to stifle.
After spending the year of 1957 living in Cornwall, Blow returned to the coast 35 years later to continue the rest of her career in St Ives. By this time Blow’s style had evolved to encompass a lighter palette, and manipulated collage materials often decorated her canvases. Produced in 1996, Clodgy sits comfortably at the later end of Blow’s artistic spectrum. Spanning an enormous 102 inches tall and wide, the acrylic and collage piece boasts a confident use of line. With its simplistic composition, Clodgy is far less crowded than Space and Matter, allowing the canvas ample space to breathe. With its ferocious energy and earth-toned surface, Space and Matter presents the fearless need for recognition of an artist starting out their career. While Space and Matter demands attention, Clodgy does not share the same ideology.
With regular international exhibitions and a Royal Academician title under her belt, Blow secured her reputation as a renowned artist by the early 1980s. Thus, Clodgy’s measured construction represents an artist settled and secure in their stylistic production. The subject of Blow’s painting, Clodgy Point Beach, consists of a rugged mixture of boulders and rocks strewn across a sweeping bay. Blow dominates this landscape, transforming the topography of the coast into a set of carefully placed forms
(By Eleanor Lerman)