Stanley Simmonds

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Stanley Simmonds ARCA 1917-2006

A Retrospective Exhibition

10 – 25 MAY   Brighton Fringe Festival 2014

Lewes House High St Lewes BN7 2LX

Launch Fri 9 MAY 6-9 pm


The Foundry Gallery, North Street, Lewes BN7 2PH



Unique opportunity to see and acquire paintings from the critically acclaimed post war artist

 “An eloquent tribute to an exemplary life in art” Quentin Blake"





  Stanley Simmonds died in 2006. His studio was full of paintings representing many periods of     his successful career. The variety and range of his life work is impressive but a strong consistency is evident throughout.

“Stan was an indefatigable painter to the end of his life.  So for me this exhibition is full of rewarding and sometimes quite unexpected works. It’s an eloquent tribute to an exemplary life in art.”Quentin Blake

Stan’s nephew, the composer Roger Simmonds, decided that he would like to honour his uncle’s creative life by sharing his work through this retrospective exhibition at The Foundry Gallery, Lewes  10 – 25 May.  Many of the pieces will be on exhibition for the first time.

The paintings and drawings recovered from his Cornish studio include a series on 
Billingsgate Fish Market, rural scenes of Cornwall, landscapes and abstract compositions. Simmonds exhibited in the 1960's in The Whitechapel Gallery and The Royal Academy alongside Bratby & Piper and was selected for the BBC and Arts Council Collections. A rare opportunity to acquire paintings from this talented artist.



Stanley Simmonds was a passionate artist and teacher.  His work is impressively diverse and includes figurative and abstract paintings, drawings, prints, graphic design and book illustration.


Stan’s work began to attract attention and in 1957 he was selected to take part in group exhibitions in The Brighton Art Gallery and The Royal Academy. A year later his work was selected for The London Group exhibition for young emerging artists, alongside Mary Fedden, Harold Mockford and Howard Hodgkin. He also exhibited his work in the ‘Contemporary British Landscape Painters,’ exhibition at the Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford with John Piper, John Bratby and Ivon Hitchens.

In 1959 Stanley Simmonds was selected for the ‘Pictures for Schools’ exhibition at The Whitechapel Gallery and for the Festival of London exhibition. He also exhibited with other London artists in The Bear Lane Gallery Oxford.  Terence Mullaly of The Telegraph wrote, “…The most interesting of these artists seems to be Stanley Simmonds-he combines a sure sense of design with colouring that succeeds in suggesting an element of mystery. He is an artist that deserves to be better known.”

  He exhibited in Oxford Colleges and shared an exhibition with Quentin Blake in Hertford College in 1965 (See Quentin Blake websites)

In many ways Stan seemed to draw on the entire history of art in his work, including the Renaissance, Impressionism, Cubism and the postwar development of Modernism. He continued to experiment with ways of combining his early interest in structure and form in a more abstract context and the critics noticed this.

In 1960 G M Butcher in the “Guardian” wrote"...distinctly exciting that work by Simmonds in which his sensibility blossoms forth into an inherent logic of its own."

John Hale in the 'Arts News Review 1962', singled out Simmonds work as"outstanding" and wrote of "the delicacy and relish" of the painter’s reaction to certain visual experience.



In the late 1960s Stan and Cynthia moved to Trinity Street, Southwark. He continued to teach and paint and  in 1978 he was awarded The George Rowney Prize for Oil Painting in ‘The Spirit of London Competition’ He continued to experiment with new approaches to abstraction, illustrated books and designed work for the theatre.

AfterStan’s retirement from teaching, heand Cynthia moved to South Petherwin, Cornwall in 1983. Here Stan had his largest studio and became neighbours again of his old friend the poet Charles Causley. He exhibited in several group shows and had a large retrospective exhibition at The Somerville Gallery, Plymouth in 2002.



Born in 1917 in Droitwich he  started his training at  Birmingham College of Art aged 16,where he was recognised as a talented draughtsman and painter.

 “Some of his early portraits show a timeless quality: a sensitive realism that penetrates through the fashions of style that almost always defines a work of art…….strength, sensitivity and an absolute mastery of drawing shine through.” (Quotes from Peter Archer in the forward to the catalogue, ‘Stan Simmonds’. The Somerville Gallery 2002)


Stan also painted country scenes based on the Worcestershire countryside. These often include groups of people involved in some kind of group activity; chatting, picking apples, or painting buildings. The shapes of both the figures and their surroundings are simplified and often painted in broad flat, areas of earthy colours. Drawings and paintings from this time, some of which show an interest in the works of Stanley Spencer, are part of this  Brighton Fringe Festival Exhibition.


In 1940 during  World War II  he joined the Royal Navy on active service, based at Plymouth. His interest in oriental art was later awakened by his naval experience in the Far East. Stanley did not talk much about the war but it is known that he was in New Guinea to witness the surrender of the Japanese in 1945.

 Charles Causley, the poet, became his close friend  in the Royal Navy, a friendship which lasted throughout his life.  Stan illustrated several of his books and painted a series of portraits of him (See Charles Causley Gallery website).


When the War ended Stanley resumed his studies but now at the Royal College of Art.In the period after the Second World War, many artists used their art as a way of adjusting to ‘normal’ life. This valuable time at the RCA gave him the opportunity to work alongside many other influential young artists and through discussion and debate, explore artistic ideas. He was  interested in painters whose worked focused on structure and form especially  Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian and Ben Nicholson .

Stanleygraduated from The Royal College in 1948 with the ARCA in Painting. He married Cynthia, another gifted artist who he had met at college. They moved to Redcliffe Square, London SW10 where Stan had a fine studio.  Painting was the central focus of his life but he was also an inspiring teacher at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School.


Quentin Blake, the artist,remembers him as an influential mentor and friend.

 "I first came to know Stanley Simmonds as a teacher, when he returned from the Navy after the war to take over the art room at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School.  He made it a place where not only art was produced but where art conversations could go on.  He was enormously helpful and valuable to me, as I am sure he was to many others.”Quentin Blake

As a young art student Quentin used to visit Stan’s London studio and was excited by his commitment and drive.

 “It was there that we really discovered Stan as a painter; to begin with in particular as a painter of Billingsgate market.  The Billingsgate paintings were evidently the fruit of many studies made on site; but it wasn’t, you felt, the detail of everyday life that took the artist’s attention as much as, together with substantial reality, the architecture of forms supplied by the porters and their surroundings. Those pictures were soon followed by a remarkable development into abstraction.  What was formerly substance becomes atmosphere.  It is a world of movement, distance, luminosity, but one which the architecture of the canvas is still disposed with authority” Quentin Blake



The Billingsgate series depicts working class men invested with serene nobility. The body forms are solid and grounded and the early paintings seem to reference Japanese art in the restricted palette of brown, grey and blue with a discrete flash of red or terracotta. The simple shapes of the hard hats, flowing work clothes and boots give these fish porters a timeless quality. The paintings show a development into abstraction but there is always a sense that the art is based on actual things that have substance and meaning.

Post war London was the subject of many of Stan’s paintings from this time. The bomb-damaged buildings fascinated him and this physical break down in structure further excited his interest in the simplification of form and abstraction.


Many British artists had left cities for the tranquility of Nature in the early post-war years but Stanley made his move to Cornwall later in life IN 1983 on retiring from teaching..


                     This exhibition is managed by Artemis Arts.

Artemis Arts is an arts company, which was set up in 2006 to work with all ages, making connections between local events and the wider community. It became a registered charity in April 2008. Its run by experienced educationalists and supported by a board of six and a team of talented volunteers.

·                     It introduces diverse, high quality art to the community encouraging active participation in workshops for all ages and abilities

·                     Works in partnership with local authorities, youth organizations and businesses to plan and run uniting creative experiences.

·                     Transformed and manages an empty property in a period of transition, into a creative space for the community.

·                     Encourages intergenerational links






Wenda Bradley 01273 486595     Christine Hall  01273 470376



Chris Ient   01273 700781  email


Artemis Arts | 1 School Cottages | Iford | Lewes | East Sussex | BN73PL | Tel 01273 486595/470376 | Email

Registered in England and Wales | Registered Number 5819202 |Charity No. 1123794| Registered Office: 1 School Cottages, Iford, Lewes, East Sussex, BN73PL | Director: Wenda Bradley | Secretary: Christine Hall