about the artist
Gillian was born in India in 1933. Her British parents were part of the twilight of the British Raj. Her father died young. Four years later Gillian, her mother and brother left India by boat, sailing on D Day for England during the second world war. Gillian completed her secondary education and entered The University of Reading, England to study Fine art and painting, a five year study. The next several years were spent teaching art and painting in England. At the call of adventure in January of 1963 Gillian moved to Dallas Texas, family members sponsored her entry to the United States. She worked in Dallas making paintings, creating embroidered wall hangings and teaching special classes. Her work was shown at the Contemporary Gallery. Marriage and a move to New York City took place in 1967 where she lived worked and showed her art in many exhibitions. Gillian became a us citizen in 1976.
The art gallery that gave her her most important one man shows was Cordier & Ekstrom on Madison Avenue in New York. Headed by Arne Ekstrom a well known art dealer who showed many noted artists in his gallery including, Isamu Noguchi, Romare Bearden, Richard Lindner, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray he also fostered the talents of younger artists such as Marvin Israel, Anton Van Dalen and Nancy Grossman and Gillian Bradshaw-Smith among others.
Apart from creating fine art Gillian started to work on a large scale creating painted backdrops for publications and photographers. This work eventually led to a connection with the world of ballet and from recreating a ballet set for ‘Annabelle Lee’ for New York Theatre Ballet she went on to design and create over twenty ballet sets and continues to this day.
In addition she has been known in the world of stuffed animal toy design, having created many collections over a fifteen year period for several different makers. Possom trot was started with her designs and was well known for selling her famous mother pig that had snap fasteners for teets with suckling piglets that snapped on! Taplinger published her book ‘Adentures in Toymaking'.
She moved back to Dallas in 1995 and since, working with many noted interior designers, has created some very stunning walls ceilings and interior details for residential and commercial customers using all her talent and experience.
I worked on three separate themes, all of which relate to one another through my interest in creating the illusion of three-dimensional form on a flat surface.
The Prismacolor drawings, which I call ‘Entanglements,’ are an exploration of ribbon-like forms, in a kind of dance, twisting and turning in and out of an abstract space.
The small clay pieces also reflect my interest in creating illusion. Here, the clay shapes, which were fired to a bisque and suggestive of female forms, I coaxed out of hiding, using my favorite Prismacolor. I call them Naiads, after the Ancient Greek water nymphs, the shape of the clay suggesting the pose of the nymph. The process was improvisational, as is most of my work once I decide on a theme.
The final sculptures are of imaginary beasts with trunks. These pieces relate back to a series of large soft sculptures I created in the early seventies, also of beasts with trunks. They are cut out of Alucobond, a material created to sheath buildings consisting of a plastic sandwiched between thin aluminum sheets. They are then painted to create the illusion of dimension on a flat surface, my favorite game. This series was originally made in 1976 and exhibited at the Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery in New York City. They have been repainted for this show.