Review: 2008 exhibition at the Francis Kyle Gallery
The role ecology plays within the work of Lil Tudor-Craig is perfectly captured by Patrick Reyntiens in his review of her 2008 exhibition at the Francis Kyle Gallery.
Size is not of importance in art; it is quality and integrity that gives us a lasting experience, and here we have something which will persist in our memory for a very long time.
Lil Tudor-Craig’s eyes were opened early in her career by the teaching of the mystical and singular Cecil Collins. Her paintings in this exhibition are of the wild life and the insect life, together with the natural vegetation of her home county of Suffolk. She is an expert on wild flowers and their connection to the insect life of our world. We do not for the most part understand how dependent we are for our health and existence, on the different insects, without whom the flowers would never be fertilised.
Tudor-Craig is also an expert on the wild birds and their movements. She works for their preservation and habitat. It is this vision of the life within the wildness of our surroundings – with its vitality and variety – that has triggered Lil Tudor-Craig’s art. The painting, in egg tempera on gessoed boards, is a servant to the subject-matter, rather than the other way round – as we find in much contemporary art where any chosen subject is treated as a convenient vehicle for the projected self-importance of the artist.
On the contrary; these paintings, of modest size and extreme sensitivity in handling, drawing and colour, are there as an expression of the importance of their subject-matter. There is accuracy and delicacy of touch and texture – and the quality of colour, subtle and never over-stated, but with every touch of the brush showing a vision and an authority. Each one constrains us to look at them with detailed attention for far longer than we would give to most of their painting contemporaries.
It is as though there is a piety given to the various plants, insects and birds she so sensitively paints. To quote Roger Scruton, it is surely ” the humility, piety and obedience, without which no tradition of craftsmanship can survive.” These last virtues are not at all either popular, well-known or recognised today in the haste and self-importance of the art-world and its admirers. So many people may, to their loss, either avoid, or forget to go, to such an exhibition of paintings, unique in their quality and integrity. So much the worse for the cognoscenti.
These paintings are a joy to behold, and their contemplation will transform the understanding of those who look at them in the relationship to the natural world around us. No one, after looking at Lil Tudor-Craig’s paintings, will go out into the countryside without a completely changed apprehension and understanding.