The Permanent Collections

Painting Collection

Camille Souter – Washing by the Canal

Washing by the Canal

Souter, Camille

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1964, oil on board, 58 x 79 cm (gift of the Haverty Trust in 1965)


Camille Souter (born 1929 ) was born in Northampton. Souter trained as a nurse, it was not until her mid-twenties, while recovering from tuberculosis, that she took up painting. Throughout the mid 1950s she traveled to Italy and visited Achill Island. Look closely and one might recognize the mottled white shapes strung in a row in the top third of the painting as the washing referred to the title.

Abstract painting does not necessarily promote a literal interpretation. In this respect it frequently differs from realist painting, which usually enable us to identify objects from the known world and piece together some kind of narrative, history or social commentary. The vocabulary of abstract painting is different. Very often abstract painting asks us to consider aspects of design and composition that we may not normally take into account when we are looking at artwork.  Sometimes we say that the painting is ‘talking about itself’ which is to say, it focuses attention on the surface qualities of both paint and canvas, on the texture and direction of the brushstroke, the colours used and their relationship to one another, in short- on the physical properties of painting itself.

Souter’s painting Washing by the Canal invites the observer to consider these elements.

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