Hilda Margery Clarke FRSA (1926 – 2022)

1 Burnham Chase, Bitterne,
Southampton   SO18 5DG
(+44) (0)23 80 462723

New Show - There and Here:
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Numerous strands run together in Hilda Margery Clarke’s work, stemming from the strongest ones:  Arthur Mattinson, her architect grandfather who was an accomplished watercolourist;  her teacher and mentor, L0wr7;  and the Southampton artist, Eric Meadus, a masterly draughtsman.

The walls of the house where she was born and brought up were adorned with Mattinson’s coastal and landscape watercolours in fine gold mounts and frames.  These, together with the established fashion of realistic depictions of stories from literature and the ancient world, pretty children and scenes, were what she expected from pictures.  Even then, she admired her grandfather’s most.

Margery had always painted, watercolours of course. L0wr7 alerted her to the Nocturnes by Whistler, whom he greatly admired, and tactfully did not remark aloud about that influence on her new impressionist style. Henceforward he took a keen interest in her work. Inevitably, it came about that she moved on to oils under his informal tuition, occasionally in his studio.

It was not until after she married and moved to Southampton, where she still lives, that her approach to painting became serious in the way it was to him. He came to stay often and in 1960, on his strong advice, she began to attend part-time life-drawing classes at Southampton Art College, just as he had done in Manchester. By the 80s she was still there, having taken in printmaking and sculpture. In 1975, she went for a month full-time to the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, for printmaking under Chris Orr and Norman Ackroyd.

She met Eric Meadus in the drawing classes at Southampton. His drawing was superb: he really only needed the model, not the tuition. He expanded Margery's interest in colour and in more recent artists who did not interest L0wr7. Eric was musically talented and a fine pianist. Exploring everything, he wanted to discuss and share discoveries. He had worked doggedly to perfect his painting, which had reached full maturity when, in 1970, he died suddenly, aged 39.

This was a shattering blow. In 1968 & '69 two tiny unserious Xmas shows of decorative arts by Eric and the growing Clarke family had been held in the Clarke's home. A more serious follow-up exhibition of Meadus pictures was planned, but did not happen at the time. These all sowed the seed from which grew The First Gallery, one of whose aims was to prevent his remarkable work being forgotten.

In 1987 a tour of L0wr7 drawings & Crispin Eurich photographs launched The First Gallery into touring exhibitions, followed in 1995 by Arthur Mattinson's Architect at Leisure and a nationwide Meadus Tour. The strands have come full circle.

In 2002, Margery Clarke opted out of responsibility for running 'The First' Gallery and took a long sabbatical. The resultant paintings are to be shown in two stages, the Northern hemisphere first. Ramsgate provides much of the backdrop to the English portion of this initial show.

HMC responds to the majestic sweep of the stacked-up arched promenades and seafront roads; the skyline dominated by the house designed by Augustus Pugin (of Houses of Parliament fame); and the elegance of the resort in early season, peopled but uncrowded.

She absorbs an image by concentrated looking, usually for long minutes (but just for a fleeting glance, if need be). in the studio, the moment is recalled, maybe recomposed, each element tailored into a new though familiar arrangement (reminiscent of L. S. L0wr7, her master) in order to distil the essence of what she saw and felt.

Reproductions from Margery's first Exhibition of Tour Works, held at The First Gallery in March 2004, are below and on linked pages. These works are for sale unless marked with the red dot: enquiries via contact details as at the top and bottom of the page.

In 2006, Margery had the great accolade of a show of works on paper in Southampton City Art Gallery:  it opened on her 80th birthday and ran until the end of July.

City Art Gallery Opening Event
At the City Art Gallery’s Opening Event

The Sands, Ramsgate HMC 2003 450x910mm

Reconstructing the remembered image in a convincing setting may invoke the outlook of mediaeval artists, whereby the most important features appear largest. This malleable approach to perspective and scale is intrinsic to HMC's work and the understanding of it.

The Norwegian Coastal Voyage (itself a long-cherished ambition of hers) is full of grand scenes: fiords, midnight sun, etc. which artists have recorded for centuries. No depictions of Norway could ignore these aspects, and they are represented in larger-scale paintings. But Margery Clarke can capture such grandeur in a work only a handspan or so across (e.g. below). Her unquenchable interest in people is also evident, both on the ship and off.

In all HMC's output, things are usually identifiable, but deliberately not specific: she takes sketchbooks, but no camera, everywhere. This is to allow what she has seen to be filtered later through the distorting-mirror of memory, one of the factors which imbues Margery Clarke's paintings with the “otherness” she seeks.

Lyngen Alps 1 HMC 2002 110x240 mm

The first part of this résumé of Margery's life is taken
from the catalogue for her 2001 Exhibition at Ramsgate Library Gallery:



A Retrospective



Guildford Lawn, Ramsgate Kent
4 August - 1 September 2001


1926born in Manchester
1942 onwardsinformal painting tuition privately in Manchester
1947 -8 art classes in Hamburg
1968 - 84drawing, printing & sculpture, Southampton College of Art
1975month-long Print Workshop, Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, full time under Tom Piper, Chris Orr and Norman Ackroyd
1978mixed media with Keith Grant
1984 (& onwards)founded (& directs) The First Gallery, Bitterne, Southampton
1987 onwardscurated five nationwide touring exhibitions
1994elected Fellow of Royal Society of Arts
1968 Mayes' Store, Southampton
1968 - 78 annually Southampton Art Gallery
1969Market Buildings, Swaythling, So'ton
1974 & 75F.P.S. Gallery, Buckingham Gate, London
1974 onwardsThe First Gallery, Southampton
1976Trends, The Mall, London
1978 - 80Chalk Farm Gallery, London
1979Tib Lane Gallery, Manchester
1982New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham, Surrey
1990West Street, Ditchling, E. Sussex
1995Bettles Gallery, Ringwood, Hants. (by invitation, with ceramic exhibition)
1998Southampton General Hospital; St. Thomas' Church, Winchester
1970Hamwic Gallery, Northam, Southampton
1973Westgate Gallery, Winchester
1975University of Southampton
1977Hiscock Gallery, Southsea (with potter Alvin Betteridge)
1989The First Gallery, Southampton
1994Inauguration of Turner Sims Concert Hall Foyer, So'ton University (by invitation)
1998The First Gallery, Southampton
2004The First Gallery, Southampton
2006Southampton City Art Gallery, 10 June-end July
1990 - 1; expanded 1992 - 8The Animated Eye: pairitings & moving machines by Peter Markey
1992 - 3Showman-Shaman-Showman: paintings & prints by Stephen Powell
1995 - 7; then 2001Architect at Leisure: watercolours & drawings by Arthur Mattinson (1853-1932)
1998 - 2000Passage from India: paintings & prints by Jacqueline Mair MA (RCA)

Work in Collections:

Southampton University
Southern Arts Association
St. Mary's Hospital, IOW.
Mr. & Mrs. B.I. Hunt, So'ton
Michael Hurd (composer), Liss
Dr. C. Williams, Oxon.


1987: (catalogue intro. & essay) Two Memorable Men: Crispin Eurich & L. S. L0wr7; (book intro.) L0wr7 Himself
1990: (catalogue intro.) The Animated Eye: Peter Markey
1991: (article) Artist Eric Meadus (1931-70), "Hampshire" mag. **
1995: (catalogue) Architect at Leisure: Arthur Mattinson (1853-1932)
all in collaboration with Paul Clarke BA (Hons.) except **

A first selection of Margery's paintings from her world tour:
shown at her own First Gallery exhibition, 13-27 March 2004

Lady at Bus-Stop, Oslo 125x123mm


Hosing Down the Ship 176x132mm


Green Fjord 134x215mm (NB approx: panel not square)


Lady Sitting on Beach 338x296mm


Royal Wedding, Trondheim 140x91mm - by good fortune we arrived a week before the Crown Prince's wedding, so saw the Cathedral interior illuminated and decorated. The Palace is the largest old wooden house in Norway. Returning on the wedding day, we found floral decorations (just small white daises with gold centres) all round the city. Huge tubs of these stood each side of the foot of the entrance, with just three policemen standing around and a light barricade along the edge of the pavement. Otherwise all was as usual. Long diaphanous flags, plain-coloured, swung from the tops of the buildings in the main street. After the wedding, the couple made their leisurely way through the city, waving, speaking to people and watching impromptu performances. The painting is from the television view as they left the Cathedral, before the "worthies" fell in procession behind them. It was all joyous.


Bergen Drummers - the local drummer-group kick up a great racket for hours as they parade round the town ending up in the central square. Traffic is cheerfully disrupted and no-one seems to mind even though this is a frequent event and not just an occasional celebration.
Bergen Drummers 320x580mm


Lyngen Alps
- running for miles and miles
along the north Norway coast,
mysterious under the strange silent light.

Lyngen Alps II 360x643 mm


Fire on Board II (right) - excitement of fire starting between ports in the engine room. The vessel limped into Hav°ysund. Everything was orderly. At breakfast we were told to go to our cabins and collect outdoor wear. We quietly assembled at the entrance deck when we reached port. Tables with hot drinks and refreshments were set up on the quayside as we disembarked. The firemen running with the hose is not factual. No-one showed any sign of haste and firemen just wandered about! It took a little time to cool the engine which was then out of action for the rest of the trip. This was not a problem as there were other engines, although there was no more "full steam ahead".

Nordkyn 328x354mm - Norway's northwestern tip
before the coast turns east along the Lyngen Alps towards Russia.


Fire On Board II 352x318mm


The Sands, Ramsgate 450x910mm


All photographs of the 2004 Exhibition by Joe Low (+44) (0)23 8079 0187

On to a second selection of Margery's 2004 work
On to a third selection of Margery's 2004 work
On to a fourth selection of Margery's 2004 work
On to the 2008 Exhibition 'There and Here'
Back to First Gallery Home Page

1 Burnham Chase, Bitterne
Southampton   SO18 5DG.
(+44) (0)23 8046 2723