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Monday 26th March 2018

Keeping it in the family

The ‘Relative’ exhibition at The Castle, Bude by Irene and her daughter Jay, has generated huge interest since it opened in early March. Visitors have enjoyed a collection of paintings which is the first ‘family’ exhibition shared by Irene and Jay.

Irene, who has built a huge following over the years with her work first started drawing and painting when she was a child. She tells us “No blank page in a book was ever safe when I was a youngster, I was wanting to always use it to colour a drawing in. When I was 13, my art teacher made special efforts to get me into an Art School and I was strongly influenced by a painter at the time called Laura Knight”.

Irene’s passion, mixed in with hard work, has resulted in her producing many pieces of art. She said, “I wish I knew the trick as to how my art pieces come together. As you work, something emerges which then excites me and you hope not to lose it. I paint every day, I just plod on until I see something appear in the work. It could simply be an expression in the eyes or the colour of the gown, then I really start to enjoy it”.

Irene moved to Bude in 1970 from Beeston in Nottinghamshire. She said “When we came to live in Bude I fell madly in love with the pebbles on the beach! We all loved living in Bude – we’ve never been anywhere else like it. It’s my home and very special place. I painted pebbles, no one else had painted them like this. I made the pebble a painting and they made my name”.

Irene later got accepted at the Craft Council in London which led on to many other openings around her work including TV interest. “I drifted away from pebbles in the late 80’s. I began painting again which moved to Tudor portraits on wood panels. A well-established art gallery called ‘Hybrid’ started to sell them, which gave me confidence to do more”. Irene’s success has simply grown and grown and she has become widely known through her work and numerous exhibitions.

Irene has for a long time wanted to carry out a joint exhibition with her daughter Jay, and for the first time this year, her hopes have become a reality. “I’m so proud of Jay. When she was at Primary School in Bude (which is now the Parkhouse Centre), I went to collect her once and saw art work on the walls. I liked one piece of art particularly and pointed it out to the teacher, not realising it was my daughters work. I was really pleased to know she had painted it”.

Jay’s love for art continued into adulthood and it became no surprise to Irene that she became an Art Teacher. Their first ‘Relative’ exhibition at The Castle has generated huge interest and compliments.

Irene said, “I think The Castle is a wonderful building and with its three galleries, Heritage Centre and tea room, it’s unique – so special. Years ago there was nowhere to exhibit and the Local Art Society had to use an empty shop or once a garage showroom. Now it showcases many local artists work including those in the 6th form at Budehaven School. The Castle really is a treasure”.

Irene is hoping that visitors to The Castle enjoy her work. “I always get very nervous about showing work and maybe more so this time, alongside my daughter. It makes it all worthwhile though when I get good feedback and when people want to buy my work”.

The ‘Relative’ exhibition is running in The Willoughby Gallery at The Castle, Bude until Thursday 5th April.  For more information on the exhibitions taking place throughout the year, visit