The Collection: Level 2

Sonia Lawson

Sonia Lawson was born in Wensleydale in 1934 into a family of artists.

She studied at Doncaster School of Art in 1951, then the Royal College of Art in 1955,  later became visiting tutor to the Royal Academy Schools for many years.

Banking Snow Cloud, Winter Evening in Wensleydale, 1980s, oil on canvas, Sonia Lawson
Sonia once said ‘I am in painting like a fisherman is part of the sea’ - paint being the means by which to land her ‘catch’ of imagery.

As a painter Sonia has coined the term ‘compressionism’ for her work. She is interested in creating abstraction while keeping the images recognisable.

Her love of the Yorkshire Dales where she was born informs much of her work including this piece. This was painted in the early 1980s,  looking over the Dales from the village of Preston Under Scaur. The village is where Sonia’s Aunt Marjorie lived and is close to where Sonia grew up in Castle Bolton. Her parents were also both artists, and their artistic community  fed her imagination. Visitors to her parent's Dales cottage included painter Jacob Kramer and author J.B. Priestly.

Sonia recalls that while creating this piece she liked the contrast of the black crows flying through the snow on their way to roost for the evening.

The painting to the left of this one is called 'Flowers for Emma Bovary', and is also by Sonia. It is an earlier painting, circa 1975, and was part of a series of still lives she painted around that time. 

Sonia has lived in Leighton Buzzard for nearly 50 years, as well as in Yorkshire. From February to March in 1982 she had a major exhibition 'Shrines of Life' at the Milton Keynes Art Gallery and was elected to the Royal Academy in May that year. However, in April 1982 she and her husband were badly burnt in a large house fire which destroyed many of her paintings and left her hospitalised for weeks, permanently scarring her hands.

Sonia was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at least 17 years ago, restricting her mobility, but her spirit was far from extinguished by the extra challenges this presents and she continued to paint.


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Arts for Health Milton Keynes
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Arts for Health Milton Keynes is the working name of MK Arts for Health charity number 1107625  company number 0513769