Professor Frances Spalding has been awarded an Emeritus Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, where she will be completing a book, provisionally titled Art in the Fells: A Collection, its Maker and its Legacy.
Scant research exists on the vital role of individual patrons during the inter-war years. State patronage of art in Britain had attained a high point during World War I, but it ended abruptly when peace returned.
In the inter-war years, Helen Sutherland emerges as a loyal supporter of the young modernists associated with the 7 & 5 Society, such as Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood and David Jones.
She continued to sustain reciprocity with them after moving north, first to Northumberland, then Cumbria, where she also encouraged the poets Kathleen Raine and Norman Nicholson and the Ashington Group, who later became the subject of Lee Hall’s play Pitmen Painters.
By choosing to focus on this patron, collector and friend of artists, Professor Spalding’s research will contribute to the ongoing reaction against the gender imbalance in art and art history. Her aim is to bring Sutherland’s collection back into historical circulation and to reintroduce the perspective of the patron into the making of art.