Octagon Theatre Exhibition
Bolton Evening News, February 1987
DURING THE RUN of "West Side Story", Bolton's Octagon Theatre has mounted an exhibition featuring "Romeo and Juliet", on which Bernstein's New York musical is based.
The pictures are by Bolton Artist Francoise Taylor whose imaginative power has often been called into use as a book illustrator. The exhibition of three dozen pictures includes scenes from "Alice in Wonderland" and street scenes from a recent trip she made with husband Kenneth to Venice.
Mrs Taylor, who has lived in Bolton for nearly 40 years, has painted many Bolton and industrial street scenes. And she has made numerous trips abroad for intensive spells of painting. She is a compulsive artist gifted with a remarkably keen eye for drama and for eccentric detail.
Born in Liege, Belgium, she studied art at the Royal Academy in Brussels and went on to a modern school of art where she studied book illustration, etching, and lithography.
She met her husband, Kenneth, in Antwerp during the war when he was a liaison officer with the Belgian Army. Mrs Taylor didn't speak any English and so they became acquainted using French and Flemish.
As a Continentally trained artist, Mrs Taylor brings much broader canvas to her "Alice" scenes than the famous Tenniel drawings. Her Wonderland is a Grimm's fairy tale world of dense German forests and thick, tortured vegetation. There is a nervous energy in her work: turning Alice's caterpillar, for example, into a Fafner-style dragon, while the Red Queen becomes the sort of 18th Century aristocrat that Mozart would have known.
Mr and Mrs Taylor visited Verona in May last year and some of the pictures are based on what the tourists are told were Juliet's room and Juliet's balcony.
Mrs Taylor was head of art at Mount St Joseph's School in Bolton for 13 years (leaving four years ago) and some of her pictures have found their way into the permanent collections at Manchester City Art Gallery and into galleries in Paris and Brussels.
A mother of five children, she had to do much of her work in the evenings when they were tucked up in bed, often using her dining room table as her work bench.
Her first gallery exhibition was at the Bolton Art Gallery back in 1959, but she tends to prefer small exhibition halls, such as Rivington's Great House Gallery and the venue for her present show: the Octagon Theatre bar.