First Light



Painting by Alice Mumford
Painting by Alice Mumford


Painting by Alice Mumford
Painting by Alice Mumford


Painting by Alice Mumford
Painting by Alice Mumford


Painting by Alice Mumford
Painting by Alice Mumford


Painting by Alice Mumford
Painting by Alice Mumford


Painting by Alice Mumford
Painting by Alice Mumford


Painting by Alice Mumford
Painting by Alice Mumford


Painting by Alice Mumford



First Light

I have known Alice since the early eighties when we both studied painting at Camberwell School of Art and Crafts in South London.  She has retained those qualities I always remember about her work, right from the early days: raw and honest responses to what she see with a determined and passionate eagerness to paint.

Life drawing was still considered important during our time at Camberwell.  And certainly for the first year we enjoyed that discipline without question.  Training your eye to analyse the subject and the space it occupies is an essential part of working from life.  This has always been the bedrock of Alice’s painting.  And her intuitive understanding of colour breathes life into the new work.

Alice’s paintings are characterised by lively and immediate surfaces.  Vibrant colour is balanced and composition considered, but not forced.  Strong abstract qualities within the negative space suggest intrigue.  Soft edges shimmer, yet the object remains defined and tactile.  All the elements are infused with seductive Cornish light.

There is a sense of discovery in her paintings which has evolved and is a reflection of her life.  Alice is clearly aware of many traditions in painting through the ages, and echoes of Bonnard, Morandi, Winifred Nicholson and Matisse resonate.  However there are definite Cornish roots and it will be interesting to watch which way they continue to grow.

The works have a dreamlike, almost ghostly quality to them as they evoke a connection with memories and past lives.  People have either just left or are out of sight.  The feeling of a moment interrupted.  Tantalising views through windows which are the source of an ethereal light.

I am lucky enough to live with several of Alice’s paintings at home in London.  Their intimate warmth emits a light of pleasure, intrigue and hope.

‘I like that harmony to be expressed in colour.  For colour is one of the surest means of expressing joy – the joy that resides in a happy home…’

Winifred Nicholson (from Unknown Colour - Paintings , Letters, Writings by Winifred Nicholson an anthology compiled by Andrew Nicholson, Faber & Faber, 1989)

Richard Selby, Director, The Redfern Gallery



I’d whooping cough, so I was told,
at six weeks, or more likely six months, old;

and I recall as though it were today
what must have been a fierce cough racking me

although I seem outside my own distress
till I can breathe again. Primal, it’s less

a memory than something I still feel,
as real as now is. There’s a woman’s pale

face looking on, upset: I’m sure, my aunt’s;
and I am being held, although I can’t

feel mother’s arms: I seem to float
mid-air. It’s murky, from my sight

being still weak, I suppose; but I’m aware
of the pale face, and larger paleness where

I’ll later know one looks out at a carn.
This is where I was for an instant born

into myself, a being in the world,
and I don’t feel the cough, nor being held,

but love I see and feel. Including light.
And both seem known to me, and infinite.

First Light
DM Thomas




It may seem an unlikely poem to choose to go with a collection of paintings.  It’s the way DM Thomas evokes sight without seeing.  The impressions that are imprinted.  I suppose a painter might say our ‘inner eye’.  Images recalled are tied together with deep emotions, in this case life or death.  Things are in and out of focus, there’s a carn, a face, blurry images, light from a window, the presence of people.  The enduring memory of light and love.  His poem ‘feels’ like a painting, or where a painting might start.

Alice Mumford