Ballet Girl (Lesley Blandy), 1967
fine art painting
fine art painting

Edith Simon

German, (naturalised British) ( b.1917 - d.2003 )

Ballet Girl (Lesley Blandy), 1967

  • Paper cut bas relief
  • Scalpel painting

Image size 31.1 inches x 21.9 inches ( 79cm x 55.5cm )
Frame size 37 inches x 27.2 inches ( 94cm x 69cm )

£1,125.00

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Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art; this original artwork installation by Edith Simon dates from 1967.
The work is presented and supplied in a sympathetic contemporary frame, mounted using conservation materials and behind glass.

Edith Simon was an extraordinary and versatile artist, known for her energy, enthusiasm, intelligence and wit. This picture, Ballet Girl (Lesley Blandy) is a “scalpel painting” or papercut work completed in 1967. Today her papercut works are in collections in Britain, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Americas.

Although she became part of the art scene in both London and Edinburgh, Edith was born in Berlin, Germany on 18th May 1917. Her father was a decorated officer in the First World War and a successful businessman, manufacturing clothing in peacetime. However, as the head of a Jewish family, he knew that he was obliged to leave Germany as the Nazis gained power and he brought his family to settle in London in 1932. Edith had been a promising artist as a child, and her drawings had been used as illustrations in Berlin newspapers. She continued her studies in England, taught herself English, and attended the Slade School of Art, and later joined the Central School of Arts and Crafts. There she became involved with a group of left wing artists and in 1933 became a founder member of the Artists International Association.

Edith Simon had a successful career as an illustrator and author, writing 17 books as a novelist, biographer and historian as well as contributing to the Encyclopedia Britannica. In 1942 she met the scientist Eric Reeve, and they subsequently married and had three children. He was invited to work as part of a new team of geneticists in Edinburgh, and so they moved there in 1946, where she lived for the rest of her life.

From 1969 Edith focused less on writing and more on art, in its many forms. She exhibited internationally from 1970 onwards and was a regular feature of the Edinburgh Festival from 1970 until 2001. She was also a keen supporter of the City Art Centre. She was a maverick and exhibited under provocative banners such as “Art is Alive and Well”, “Moderation Be Dammed” and “Who’s Afraid of Edith Simon”. She reveled in new techniques and worked in a bewildering range of materials, from cloth to rope, bronze, copper, aluminum, carved plaster, wood veneer, cast polyester etc. She explored making drawings in one continuous line without lifting pen from paper. However, she is best known for her original paper cuts works, or “scalpel painting”, as she called it. This involved creating an image by cutting with a scalpel through sheets of paper, sometimes white, sometimes multi-coloured, often up to 10 layers thick. This exposed different shapes on different levels, with remarkable results, given the complexity of the technique.

Though she suffered from ill health for the last 7 years of her life, she continued to work until her final months, and died on January 7th 2003. She left Edinburgh with an extra and essentially European cultural dimension.

This original scalpel cut installation with multi-layer paper (called "Scalpel Painting" or Papercut bas Relief" to create a montage ) is a sophisticated and intriguing image, cut with huge skill through three layers of paper. It depicts a young girl in a wide brimmed hat, wearing an off the shoulder black dress. Her skin glows pale against the darkness of her clothing. The background is a delicate decorative pattern of foliage and flowers. The girl’s brown hair is carefully braided behind her head, and the only other touch of colour is a pattern of red dots in the top right hand corner.