The Doves by Brenda Chamberlain

© the artist’s estate. 

Born in Bangor, Brenda Chamberlain (1912-1971) decided from an early age to become a painter and writer. After leaving school she spent six months in Copenhagen where the paintings of Gauguin influenced her early works. Whilst attending the Royal Academy Schools London she met and later married fellow artist John Petts.They moved to Llanllechid and following contact with the poet Alun Lewis they established Caseg press and published poems and woodcut prints. They later divorced in 1946.

Between 1946-1962, Brenda lived on Bardsey Island, painting island life and exhibiting work at London galleries. She spent several winters in Germany with her great friend, Karl von Laer. Although she lived in several different places she rarely painted landscapes; it was people that fascinated her. Throughout her early years her figures were solid and monumental and the colour bold. The Doves, mixed media on paper painted in 1953, reflects the themes of this period.

In 1962 she moved to the Greek island of Hydra where her work developed to combine poetry and images. Her style of her paintings changed from being representational to a more abstract form of expressionism. She became fascinated with the concept of metamorphosis of bodies into rocks in the sea and the effect of light through salt water. On moving back to Bangor in 1967 her work became increasingly stark, reflecting her mental state.

Brenda won the gold medal for Fine Art twice at the National Eisteddfod of Wales with her paintings. She also published poetry a book of poems and drawings as well as a novels including an account of her life on Bardsey, ‘Tide Race’ in 1962.

This painting is part of a large collection of paintings gifted to Storiel by the Arts Council of Wales in 2002.