Rose Wylie

British figurative painter (born 1934) and winner of the John Moores Painting Prize in 2014

One of the most distinctive and compelling of British artists, Rose Wylie was born in Kent in 1934. She studied painting at Folkestone and Dover School of Art between 1952 and 1956. She went on to begin a postgraduate course at Goldsmiths, where she met her future husband, the painter Roy Oxlade (1929 - 2014). The couple married soon after and the first of their three children arrived a year later, at which time Wylie stopped painting to raise her family.

She explains, ‘We decided it was not a good idea for two parents to paint, because it is very isolating and you do tend to focus on yourself and children then become an irritation…So I bought up the children and I think that was a good idea.’ She resumed her career 20 years later, completing an MA at the Royal College of Art, London, between 1979 and 1981. She continues to live and work at her home in Kent.

Since returning to painting in the late 1970s, Wylie’s reputation has justly continued to grow and her work has featured in numerous exhibitions in the UK and internationally. Recent group exhibitions include 5Painters, curated by Jason Stopa for Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Indiana, US (2014), Characters: Portraits and People from the Arts Council Collection at the Holburne Museum, Roper Gallery, Bath (2013), Women Artists - Women Collectors, curated by Marcelle Joseph and Lydia Cowpertwait for Lloyds Club, London (2013), Evan Holloway / Rose Wylie (2 person exhibition) at The Approach, London (2011) and Women to Watch at the National Museum of Women Artists Museum, Washington DC, US (2010).

The artist’s recent solo exhibitions include her major retrospective at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings in 2012 and her significance was further recognised in a BP Spotlight exhibition at Tate Britain in 2013. She was awarded the Threadneedle Prize in 2009 and the Paul Hamlyn Prize for Visual Arts in 2011. She won the John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Art Gallery in 2014 and the Charles Wollaston Award (for the most distinguished work in the exhibition) at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, 2015. Her solo exhibition Rose Wylie: Quack Quack was held at London's Serpentine Sackler Gallery in 2017, for which she was awarded the South Bank Sky Arts Award in 2018. She was elected a Senior Royal Academician in 2014.

Wylie’s work is held in various British and international public collections including Tate Britain, London, the National Museum of Women Artists, Washington DC, Arts Council Collection, London, the Royal College of Art (print collection), London, University College, Oxford, the Contemporary Art Society, London and York City Art Gallery.

The artist told the Walker Art Gallery:

" I paint something I’ve seen, but I may fiddle with the scale, context, and rules of gravity. I draw from observation, memory and with ‘conceptual projection’ – how a stereotype would look from the un-stereotypical view, or if made from a written list of observed particulars, then that list illustrated. The paintings often start from my drawings, but anything can change, depending on the way I feel about how it is, or if I know what that should be. The drawings can come from the excitement of anything I’ve seen, but particularly from film (the swapping of one artform from another), newspapers, and memory of personal events.

My main interest is how the work looks, but meaning – politics, issues, story, and so on – remains as part of the structure of making a work, an act which is both personal and contemporary. In my life I stack and heap up notations of experiences, and often repeat this process in combinations of paintings as I see them in my mind. The flexibility of leaving bare canvas and ‘floating’ imagery allows these regroupings and linear-continuations to happen easily in a picture hang, while also permitting individual paintings to keep their own particular, independent identity."
  • Gender
  • Relationship
  • Nationality
    British: English
  • Born
  • Place of birth
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: Kent

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