The oil paintings of Anne Penman Sweet

13 Sep

On the western edge of Bloomsbury, Conway Street is a four minute walk from Warren Street and busy Tottenham Court Road, and thirty seconds from elegant Fitzroy Square Garden. Here at number 2, close to the junction with Maple Street, you’ll find the Rebecca Hossack Gallery.

From now till the 29th this small but stylish gallery is featuring the oil tanker paintings of Anne Penman Sweet, each executed in oil on stretched linen spanning four square metres or more.

Says the gallery website:

Industrial and hulking, the ships are suspended on an ethereal backdrop, where the ocean and clouds blend in one marbled plane. The hugeness of the ship is recalibrated against the vastness of the open sea and endless sky, as roughness is contrasted with delicacy and motion with stillness.

The sense of magnitude evoked by Sweet’s work continues in each painting’s title. She names each vessel after gods, goddesses, stars and galaxies, associating them with epic qualities:

‘For me they are vessels or carriers of spirit and myth, in that they carry a secret story or narrative with them as well as their cargo. They are each one an entity, a living spirit in their own right’ – Anne Penman Sweet

These are magnificent paintings so, if you’re in the area between now and the penultimate day of September, do yourself a favour and get yourself over there …

… and up that spiral staircase to the main exhibition.

My photos – from a phone with little means of controlling the light, and in any case too small to convey the experience of seeing them for real – cannot do justice to the extraordinary intensity and subtlety of these beautiful works. But since they are all I have, they’ll have to do. Some are of complete paintings, others home in on small sections.


Next door to the Rebecca Hossack is Lore of the Land, co-owned by Guy Ritchie and David Beckham, and designed to convey the theme of a traditional English pub. It doesn’t do a bad job of it either, so now you’ve two reasons for visiting this neck of the woods …

… though in truth the paintings of Sidney based Anne Penman Sweet are cause enough.

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4 Replies to “The oil paintings of Anne Penman Sweet

  1. Wonderful pictures Phil. We visited the William Morris museum in Walthamstowe on a visit to London on the way back from Brussels to see an exhibition of Madge Gill’s work – very different but also worth a visit.
    Tony & Polly

    • I didn’t know Walthamstowe had such a gallery, else I’d have visited on the same trip. I’d gone into London for a few hours while canoe camping in the fens, mainly in Hunts & Beds so within an hour of West End, with Walthamstowe closer still. I may yet get a canoe trip down the River Lee before summer is completely out, in which case I’ll try to get to see Madge Gill. Thanks for the tip off. Hope all’s well.

  2. These are truly amazing – I wish I had seen them, although your photography adds detail I may otherwise have missed. Reminds me of the hulking ships on the Humber as a child and evokes the sound of the blasting fog horns that we would hear all night long on foggy days and nights where the sounds crowded in on you in the heavy atmosphere. We don’t seem to experience such fog any more; Nottingham can get very foggy but it is much lighter and quieter!.

    I shall be back home soon, Phil!

  3. These are fabulous paintings, Jackie. The exhibition is on till the 29th, so maybe it’s doable.

    If Anne Sweet comes to England, we’ll take her to Hull! I hear the road there is paved with good intentions …

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