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It is a book that the North West art world has been awaiting for some time, a major monograph of the Glossop artist Ghislaine Howard, an artist who is widely regarded as one of the UK’s most talented female artists.
Ghislaine Howard, The Human Touch: Paintings, Drawings and Prints 1980 – 2016, is written by Michael Howard and brings up to date a career that has had more than its fair share of highlights.
A Woman of the Year in 2008, Howard is best known for painting the extremes of the human condition from the most intimate to the most public. Her works are held in the Royal Collection, the Manchester and Whitworth art galleries and many other public and private collections.
Howard was born in 1953 in Eccles and is one of the most prominent artists working in the North-West today. A painter of powerful means, her work is characterised by a passionate directness that never falls into the sentimental.
The book is a testament to the continuing ambition to use painting to explore, critique and celebrate shared human experience: family, love, death, sexuality, and the vulnerability of being human in the contemporary world. Her subject matter embraces the private and the public worlds we all occupy, and owes as much to contemporary media as it does to the great artists of the past.
As well as responding to the challenge of painting her own life Howard has worked in theatres, prisoners, hospitals and refuges, seeking out places where the range of human emotions are at their most intense.
In 2013, one of her drawings was chosen as the centrepiece for the British Museum’s groundbreaking show: Ice Age Art: the Arrival of the Modern Mind, juxtaposed with artefacts 20- 30,000 years old.
In 2000 she worked in association with Amnesty International and Liverpool Cathedral to produce 14 monumentally sized canvases – Stations of the Cross / The Captive Figure which have toured the U.K.’s cathedrals since then.
She is an artist who believes that painting has the power to heal divisions and affect human lives for the good.
As well as exhibiting in major art gallery spaces she takes her art to where it can be seen – and used – by the broadest spectrum of social groups – in particular she has worked in inner city Blackburn and with homeless and marginalised people in Manchester.
This substantial 300 page, hard back, cloth bound volume, written by her husband,
the art historian Michael Howard, includes contributions from amongst others, Professor David Peters-Corbett of the Courtauld Institute, Jill Cook from the British Museum, Fionna Barber, Reader in Art History at MMU and Michael Simpson and Claire Stewart from the Lowry.
The book will be of interest to both an academic audience and anyone interested in how the time honoured
practice of putting paint on canvas can still in someway be an honourable and significant response to the complexities of the modern world.
The book is complete in itself, but it also sets the context for Ghislaine’s present project: the completion of seven major canvases each dedicated to one of the Seven Acts of Mercy that have developed from her daily paintings taken from the news media.
Ghislaine Howard, The Human Touch: Paintings, Drawings and Prints 1980 – 2016, provides an intimate portrait of her life and work to date. It includes over 300 illustrations and is designed by Micah Purnell, one of the most talented designers of his generation. Its publication coincides with a retrospective exhibition at Collect Art in Lymm which opens on 24 March. Available from Collect Art, Lymm, Gateway Gallery Hale.