Silk Top Hat Gallery

Contemporary art gallery providing a showcase for original British paintings, prints, sculpture and crafts in Ludlow town centre. Open Tuesday – Saturday 11.00 am – 4.00 pm.

Ann Arnold (1936-2015)


It was in 1987 that the Silk Top Hat Gallery first proudly announced that Graham and Ann Arnold, who had recently moved into the area, were to hold their first exhibition here. Since then they have had more than ten exhibitions at the Gallery. Graham and Ann Arnold’s work is especially well known in the context of the Brotherhood of Ruralists. They were founder members of the group in 1975 and they continued to exhibit their work with other members and friends as well as in solo exhibitions. Their work has frequently been shown in London at the Piccadilly Gallery and at Clerkenwell Fine Art. Their last joint exhibition with us was in 2013.

Ann Arnold was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in l936 and studied at Epsom School of Art from 1956-59. Her studies were interrupted by ill health, but this caused an interest in Art Therapy. After attaining her National Diploma she was instrumental in the initiation of the first course of Art Therapy. From 1955-67 she practised art therapy and was a founder member of the Association of Art Therapists. She married Graham Arnold in 1961. Her work was shown in London Galleries where she held many one-man shows at the Piccadilly Gallery and the New Grafton Gallery. Her work has been shown in Royal Academy Summer exhibitions. She and Graham Arnold shared an exhibition at Brighton Art Gallery and she regularly exhibited with the Phoenix Group under Dame Laura Knight. She has exhibited in Berlin and Basle and various international art fairs. Her work is in many public and private collections. In 2008 her work was shown (with the Ruralists) in a large travelling exhibition ‘Ancient Landscapes, Pastoral Visions, Samuel Palmer to the Ruralists’ organized by Southampton City Art Gallery. Her work has been selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions and included in group exhibitions in London, Chichester, Bath and Plymouth. She illustrated ‘Clare’s Countryside’ and designed covers for Arden Shakespeare in 1981.

Nicholas Usherwood wrote of Ann Arnold’s work that she ‘is an intuitive painter who works in the tradition of artists inspired by the poetry of the English landscape. The spirituality of places is always present in her work. She paints about her feelings towards people and places with an intensity which recalls William Blake’s illustrations to Thornton’s Virgil or Samuel Palmer’s paintings of the Shoreham period. There is also a sense, often present in her work, of fragile balance between individual existence and the outside world.’

We were so sorry to hear that Ann Arnold had died at the end of December last year. Her funeral of quiet reflection, poetry and song was held at St. Mary’s Church in Chapel Lawn close by her home and in the heart of the community which had been an important part of her life in recent years. We have lost a dear friend and our thoughts are with Graham.

Ann Arnold died on December 28th 2015 (The Sunday Telegraph obituary)