Private View: Thursday 15 March 2012, 18.00 – 20.00
Exhibition Dates: 13 – 16 March
Location: CCW Progression Centre, Corridor Galleries, Wilson Road, London SE5 8LU
The unlikely muse for Eleanor Brooks’ exhibition, ‘A Portrait of Mrs Spinks’, Eva Spinks, a derelict, elderly Londoner, born ‘at the back of the Harringey dog track’ in 1899, tells Brooks of her extraordinary life story in the book ‘Mrs Spinks Speaks’. From leaving school at the outbreak of the First World War with ambitions to be a ballet dancer, via any number of menial jobs, rat-infested lodgings, a stint as a nurse in Paris, hunger, drink dependency, nervous breakdowns and horrific treatments in psychiatric hospitals.
The show consists of one cardboard room, based on the dimensions of her actual room but sliced across diagonally. It has a ceiling but no floor. To the left, the wall can be prolonged through a wardrobe full of clothes, hats, etc. There is a bit of carpet for the floor. The room is furnished with a chest of drawers, a bed, cut off with sectioned mattress, bedding etc. showing, and boxes and suitcases underneath. There is a table loaded with precious junk, a kitchen cupboard, a tiny sink and gas cooker etc., and a cardboard armchair with a sewn canvas statue of Mrs Spinks sitting in it, watching a huge TV. The real objects in the room were actually Mrs Spinks own possessions, anything made by the artist was made from junk, cardboard, toffee papers etc.
There are 12 oil paintings, smallest about 8×12, largest 32×40. 14 watercolours, several are doubled in one frame. 8 etchings, the largest is about 8×14″. 24 drawings, some framed four to a frame. 8 miniature sculptures, portraits, embedded in resin and lastly but probably most importantly 2 sculptures, one is plasterbandage and one in resin and fiber glass. There is also junk of various kinds scattered about the room.
It was first shown in Morley Gallery in London in 1973 where Mrs Spinks attended the Private View. Over the last 40 years, the exhibition has travelled the country from venues such as Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge to Oriel Caffi Croesor / Cafe, Gallery and Community venue situated in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park last summer.
Now, Camberwell College of Arts is welcoming back alumna Eleanor Brooks to London with a homecoming exhibition of ‘A Portrait of Mrs Spinks’.
Curated by Helena Davey / BA Drawing
Design by Miglena Minkova / BA Graphic Design
‘A Portrait of Mrs Spinks’ on Facebook