Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Conroy Maddox: the (almost) farewell of British Surrealism

Back in my undergraduate days, I wrote my dissertation on a rather obscure British, Birmingham-born, Surrealist artist called Emmy Bridgwater. As part of my research, I was put in contact with Conroy Maddox. Conroy, a familiar face to all researchers of Surrealism in England, maintained a profile on the conference circuit and was always thrilled to talk to people about the ideals of the movement and its practices from its 1930s-1940s highpoint. I last saw him four years ago at the opening for an exhibition of the Birmingham surrealists (Conroy Maddox and Emmy Bridgwater being two key figures) [NB link has my name misspelt].

So it was with some sadness that I found his obituary in the Guardian today even though I knew he had been ill for some time. He was a vibrant character and a prolific artist - some would argue the latter was to his detriment. But his bustling manner was a thrill to those scholars who met him and he was a mine of (often hilariously erroneous or exaggerated) information and anecdotes. I feel like part of my life has passed in his passing.

His work can be seen in the Tate Gallery collection and, more recently, work was acquired by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as well.

Later adherents of the movement survive him, but Conroy's death marks the ending of one of the key moments in 20th century British art.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm an MPhil student, and I am starting work on a dissertation about British female surrealists. I'm finding it pretty tough to find much information about Emmy Bridgwater in particular. Can you recommend any periodicals or websites that might help?
I would be very grateful. Sorry to contact you through the comment board, but I couldn't see an address on your blog page.
Kirstie Meehan