A Fresh Eye on Bolton
Manchester Evening News, c.1950
BOLTON SCHOOL, owing to a gap in its schedule of outside exhibitions from the Rutherston Collection and elsewhere, is this week showing a very interesting group of drawings and engravings by a local artist, Francoise Taylor. She is by birth a Belgian – a few of the pictures are signed with her maiden name of Wauters – trained at the Brussels Academy and the Ecole de la Cambre (the applied art school there), where she got the rather rare degree of Maîtrise, or Mastership, in book illustration. A well-equiped artist, in other words, as one can immediately see from her command of her different techniques – etching, drypoint, lithography, wood-engraving, monotype – or from the accurate drawing that somehow pins down her fleeting, nervous pen and ink sketches. The real interest of the show lies in the application of this skill, and this particularly continental sensitivity, to the Bolton Scene.
There is a very marked development among the pictures here: the earlier works rather expressionist (if it is fair to stick on these labels), in a manner reminiscent of Ensor, or of the post-1919 Germans like Beckmann and Dix; the Oxford drawings at once freer and simpler; the Bolton work a livelier, and most unusual, development of that. These last etchings and drawings of "Bolton scenes" – railways, gasworks, mills, a pit – have the same calligraphic line, the same keen observation of architecture as appears earlier, but bring with that a particular fascinated unfamiliarity and the welcome freshness of colour which drab surroundings can sometimes inspire. The tragedy of people having to live in so gloomy a setting, if (as the stylised faces imply) it is here rather over-simplified, can seldom have been more lightly and attactively pointed out.