Grevel Lindop

Poet, biographer, critic, essayist and writer on just about everything

Linda Ryle’s Paintings


A visitor admires ‘Show Me the Moon’ (for the book cover, scroll down & look right!)


Roman and Egyptian art and artefacts inspire elements in some of the paintings

Coming face to face with Linda Ryle’s painting ‘Show Me the Moon’ a few days ago was a shock: I’ve been so used to seeing it as a 13 by 17 cm cover image on my book Luna Park that I’d forgotten quite how big it really is. Meeting it again in this new exhibition at the Heaton Cooper Studio, Grasmere, was a pleasant surprise.

The painting – even more fascinating at its full size, naturally – draws you in hypnotically, with its affectionate yet slightly eerie rapport between woman and cat, and the tiny glimpse of the new moon in a limpid, radiant sky.

The sense of mystery, of magical meanings only half-revealed, is typical of Linda Ryle’s work (she’s also know by her married name as Linda Cooper), and this retrospective exhibition, Time Regained: 1975 – 2016 reveals these qualities as connecting elements running through some quite diverse work.


Linda Ryle in conversation at the opening

There are landscapes, figure paintings (with animals) , still lifes – often incorporating ancient Egyptian or Roman sculpture and other artefacts – and most recently detailed, almost trompe-l’oeil studies of little corners of domestic interiors: a spice cupboard; a flight of old, deeply-worn stone steps; a crucible burning with fierce flame and backed by black smoke.


Hand-painted belts – sought after by ’70s celebs in the King’s Road

There’s even a display of the wonderfully vivid and imaginative belts, hand-painted with animal forms, which Linda supplied to a King’s Road fashion boutique in the 1970s, and which were acquired by (amongst others) Elton John, Bianca Jagger and Britt Eklund.


What connects all of these works, along with a love of detail and an evocative use of colour, is a sense of symbolism, of contemplative and often disquieting meaning hidden within each image. It’sa world not unlike that of Leonora Carrington, who similarly loved to blend pagan imagery with encounters of animals and humans who had a more than normal rapport with one another. I’m inclined to think Linda deserves a place in the rich but elusive category of female surrealists, though the subtlety of her work is far from the simply bizarre or aggressively disruptive effects we might associate with mainstream (usually male) surrealism. Linda Ryle has a deep interest in Jungian psychology, and her work was exhibited last year at the Association of Jungian Analysts in London.


Strikingly, to me the most powerful works were the most recent. The meticulous representations of details of her eighteenth-century house in Cockermouth, such as a staircase leading down into a cellar, are extraordinarily suggestive: the apparently ordinary becoming a powerful symbol of something psychologically profound and (I think) more than a little disturbing. These are beautiful images; but don’t be surprised if you feel the hairs on your neck rising a little. In Linda’s work, the everyday becomes the slightly uncanny. It’s a remarkable achievement.


A glimpse of some of the quiet but intense and deeply suggestive later work

Time Regained: an exhibition of past and present work by the painter Linda Ryle runs at the Heaton Cooper Studio, Grasmere, from July 14 until the end of October. Details from 015394 35280.

The Radiant World of Peter Roebuck

Artist Peter Roebuck (right, in red) and friend Peter Thomas at Arison

Just back from the opening of an excellent new exhibition of paintings by Peter Roebuck at the Arison Gallery in Chorlton, Manchester.

Peter has I think made a unique and very distinctive contribution to the English vision of landscape – though he also paints still life, people and many other subjects. But to me, landscape is the heart of his work and he has worked with enormous dedication and integrity over many years to refine a most unusual way of seeing, and showing, the world.

The hallmark of Roebuck’s work is a combination of radiant intensity of light with a quality of visual softness, created sometimes by mist, sometimes by frost, sometimes by distance or sunset light, but always conveying a sense of stillness and fascination. Perhaps that’s the outcome of the very close and long-continued observation which you sense has gone into these paintings.

Guitarist Bob Jones (of Bourbon Street Preachers and other bands) and friend Bernie enjoy the paintings

Working in both oil and watercolour, Peter Roebuck returns often to certain favourite subjects: the waters, and the shores, of Morecambe Bay, the lesser-known areas of Lakeland, and the Mersey Valley, centring on Chorlton Meadows not far from where he lives. The radiance of his colours and the intriguing simplifications of landscape forms, which make the places portrayed appear more, not less, fascinating, mean that these paintings are haunting and, in their way, inimitably strange as well as beautiful. The longer you look at them the more interesting they get.

If you’re in South Manchester between now and 9 October, and have even a few minutes to spare, do go and take a look, to see fine work by a greatly underrated and totally individual artist.

The Arison Gallery is at 512 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, Manchester M21 9AW (0161 881 6734).