Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mary Annie Sloane at Leicester's New Walk Gallery

I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I hadn't really heard of Mary Annie Sloane before a friend mentioned her in connection with the nearby village of Enderby. Mary (1867 - 1961) was born in Leicestershire and not only lived in Enderby but frequently used it, and its inhabitants, as subjects in her work. 

She was a great friend of May Morris, Wikipedia says they lived together in Majorca for a while (Leicester gallery says it was a holiday) and a frequent visitor to Kelmscott where she painted May several times. She also seems to have been very interested in the woman's movement as well as being a gifted artist. 

Most of this exhibition is made up of watercolours and etchings, a lot of them from private collections, which I think might mean family and friends, and there are slide shows of more of her work not on display (not lent?).

Leicester's New Walk gallery has some interesting things - it has probably the best collection of German Exspressionism to be found outside of Germany, a lot of Picasso ceramics, and some lovely arts and crafts peices, mostly related to Earnest Gimson. These all fight for space with a motley collection of stuffed animals, some mummies and other Egyptian bits, some dinosaurs (all beloved of young children across the county) and other assorted exhibits. In short there's not enough space to do any of it real justice.

The result for Mary Annie Sloane (who I don't think is getting enough publicity) is that quite a large body of work is crammed into two small rooms with a minimum of interpretation, and whilst I'm grateful that this exhibition is happening at all, she deserves more. Even just from a local perspective her sketches of prominent women, and her own roll in the women's movement and social reform would be worth looking at more closely. Her friendship with May Morris also deserves more space, how much did they influence or inspire each other - I'd like to know! And generally just more space to look at everything would be good.

On a less negative note the exhibition is free and on until early July. There is a very short guide which I'll buy next time I go - I want to see this a few times to let it sink in - and at least we're getting to see a decent body of her work, certainly enough to get a proper sense of Mary as an artist. It's not a perfect exhibition, but it's well worth making the effort to see. 


  1. This is intriguing, I thought that I knew the name but, on investigation, I clearly knew nothing about the woman. Are you able to comment on the abbreviation ARE please - I am at a loss. I will make further investigation.

    Your blog seems to lead me in exciting directions, for which I thank you.

  2. I'll have to go back, buy the the book, and see if I can find out! She's frustratingly elusive, I wonder if it's because she was reasonably well off and didn't need to paint for money?

  3. The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE), known until 1991 as the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers, is an art institution based in London. The Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers was a society of etchers established in London in 1880 and given a Royal Charter in 1888. Associates, a class of members established in 87, can use ARE.

  4. Thank you, that's really helpful and saves me a job!

  5. I'm so glad you liked the exhi ition which was a concept initialised by my father Tom Elliott and to whom the exhibition is dedicated to, as is a dedication in the accompanying are correct,a lot of the paintings/etchings were lent by the family (immediate and extended). I am proud to have lent two which my parents gave me when i was 22. I agree this exhibition should have more national awareness. Thank you for your appreciation, lucy

  6. Hi Lucy, thank you for commenting, I noticed your fathers name in the exhibition and was curious to know more about him. Mary Sloane is clearly an artist who deserves more recognition so the chance to learn about her and see so much of her work is something to be grateful for, as is your fathers work in making that happen.

    If you would be willing to tell me more about either of them I'd be really interested to hear it, either here as a comment or via email (I'm contactable through the the profile page, link in top left hand corner).

  7. Hi I have just discovered an etching I have of Mary Sloane which is signed To/ M Osborne from Mary A Sloane. It is a scene of a long arched bridge with someone crossing it ? Does any one know who she had gifted this too ?

  8. If you haven't already done so it might be worth contacting the New Walk museum in Leicester who had the exhibition. I wish I had more information about her, and really hope this exhibition is just the start of a proper reassessment of her work.