Artist Henrietta Dubrey’s inspiration comes from sources as diverse as the Bloomsbury Group’s decorated farmhouse at Charleston at the foot of the South Downs in Sussex, England, near to where she was brought up, to the vibrancy of American Abstract Expressionism, and life itself.
Childhood holidays to St Ives in Cornwall impressed upon Henrietta art in its raw fundamentals. In the nineteen fifties and sixties American and other international painters, including Mark Rothko, had travelled to the small town at Britain’s most south-westerly tip to glean from other significant artists including Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson the zeitgeist of a crucial moment in modernist painting.
“I moved to Cornwall almost twenty years ago now, for its art heritage, and for its rugged landscape and the light which is reflected in from the Atlantic which lies all around. This place gives me time and space to paint, away from the busy-ness of where I trained in London.”
Henrietta gained her MFA equivalent postgraduate degree at the almost two hundred and fifty year old Royal Academy Schools in central London. Located in the vaults under Burlington House, the home of the Royal Academy itself, the unusually long three-year course gave this young artist resources to develop her vision. Entry was, critically, by means of a figurative portfolio, and there was a strict routine enforced of working in the original theatre-like life drawing room, the door locked, full days spent observing the model and developing one’s skills.
Outside was the hustle and bustle of the city, and exhibitions to be visited not only in the glamorous spaces overhead, but throughout London.
Her work continues to covers both abstract and figurative elements, with a colorist palette and often striking line. These days she celebrates life not only in the great Cornish outdoors, but also in the renewed interest in contemporary published material. At a time when we thought the internet would have us all looking at our screens, she is delighted to collect and read not only books but, in particular, the plethora of new magazines and zines which describe fashion, design, and our twenty-first century state of being.
A lightness of touch gives her work an immediacy, which although referencing her influences and ideas means that her paintings carry a strength and true originality. With a developed language and always with something to say Henrietta’s work is fresh, lively and often profound.