Centenary exhibition opens at Corby’s new art gallery

Paula Boulton with work by her aunt, the late artist Emmeline Boulton, whose work is featured in a centenary exhibition which opened this week at the Rooftop Gallery and Workshops in Corby
Paula Boulton with work by her aunt, the late artist Emmeline Boulton, whose work is featured in a centenary exhibition which opened this week at the Rooftop Gallery and Workshops in Corby

A centenary exhibition has opened in Corby featuring the work of the late artist Emmeline Boulton, who was a friend and student of LS Lowry.

The exhibition in the Rooftop Gallery and Workshops, in the old library above Queens Square, has been compiled by Emmeline’s remaining family members, including her niece Paula Boulton, a member of the Corby Artists’ Network, who hopes the show will interest young artists seeking inspiration.

She said: “Emmeline’s exhibition is just the beginning. We want to create interest in a series of workshops that will explore how artists develop, exhibit their work and learn how to make aspects of their art commercially viable. In a sense we want to capture the spirit of Emmeline and distil her experiences as a working artist. Lowry became a mentor for Emmeline and we hope that we can reveal her passion and craft to a new audience.”

Born on July 19, 1912, Emmeline Boulton led an outstanding life and was undeterred by poverty and ill-health. Her work was well-respected and caught the attention of LS Lowry who became a mentor and lifelong friend.

Emmeline spent many years as a bed-bound invalid after developing rheumatoid arthritis when she was 12 and eight years later the eminent surgeon Sir Harry Platt broke and reset most of the bones in her body. She eventually learned to walk again.

In 1932 her mother took her to the Manchester Municipal School of Art and together they persuaded the school to admit her for a trial year. She did so well in the end-of-year exam that she was awarded free tuition. Emmeline graduated in 1940, specialising in mural painting.

Niece Paula, the Corby artist and author, is one of the founders of the new Rooftop Gallery and Workshops, the Corby’s first designated space to show art.

Working with Corby Artists’ Network, she aims to provide an affordable space to show and make art, raise the profile of local artists and get more people involved in arts-related activities.

Paula said: “Being creative and encouraging artistic expression is such an exciting way to bring people together and to break down barriers between different communities. We have argued and lobbied for years to ensure that a large place like Corby has a dedicated art gallery.

“What is so powerful about the new Corby Artists’ Network is that this enterprise is being driven from grassroots level. Local people are shaping its aims and purpose, which means everything we do is going to have a direct connection with the town’s residents, established and new.”