THORNTON, Valerie Genestra M

1931 - 1991

Valerie Thornton

Born in London on 13 April 1931, daughter of Nigel Heber Thornton (26 January 1895-1942), manager for Shell Oil Asiatic Co., and his wife Margaret Marion Genestra née Gault (10 June 1905-1997), who married at St George’s Hanover Square, London in 1929 and in 1939 were living at Michen Hall, Shackleford, Guildford, Surrey. Initially Valerie attended Elinor Birley’s (1904-1992) Primary School, Charterhouse, before being evacuated, with her two brothers, to Montreal, Canada during the war years. She returned to London in 1944 to continue her education at West Heath School, Sevenoaks and began art school training at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting in 1949, later qualifying at Regent Street Polytechnic 1950-1953, under Patrick Millard (1902-1977). Becoming attracted to the work of Winifred Nicholson (1881-1952) after receiving one of her paintings as a 21st birthday present and began her long love affair with architecture, equally influential was S. William Hayter’s (1901-1988) film about the revolutionary etching work being done at his Atelier 17 workshop in Paris, which led her to undertake an eight-month residency with Hayter in Paris in 1954 and on her return to England she purchased her first etching press. After a six-week grand tour of Italy in 1955, studying and drawing, she succeeded Howard Hodgkin (born 1932) as Assistant Art Teacher at Charterhouse School. She also began her long association with Cedric Morris [q.v.] and Arthur Lett-Haines's [q.v.] at East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing at Benton End, Hadleigh, Suffolk. There she met Rosemary Rutherford [q.v.], the stained glass artist whom she later accompanied on many subsequent trips to Paris. Sales of her work supported her during a ten month residency at the Pratt Graphic Art Centre Workshop in New York and also funded a study trip to Mexico. In 1965 a founder member of the newly formed Printmakers’ Council and received an invitation to visit Winifred Nicholson, which became the start of an enduring friendship. She married in London in 1966, Oliver Michael Chase [q.v.] and after Chase had been appointed curator, moved to the Minories at Colchester, Essex. In 1969 elected an Associate of the Royal Society of Painter/Etchers and Engravers and the following year made a fellow, and began exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. In 1974 Thornton and her husband settled at Lower Common Farmhouse, Chelsworth, Suffolk where she died on 23 March 1991. An internationally recognized, Suffolk-based etcher and print-maker, but was also an oil landscape and interior artist and her exhibitions include The Minories, Colchester; Bear Lane Gallery; Oxford Print Club; Zwemmer Gallery, London; Old Fire Engine House, Ely; Bruton Gallery; Gilbert Parr Gallery, London; Albemarle Gallery, London and The Redfern Gallery, London. She also exhibited at the Ipswich Art Society from Lower Common Farmhouse, Chelsworth in 1990, two paintings 'Warehouse on the Ouse' and 'Warehouse, York'. Her prints were published by Paul Cornwall-Jones of Editions Alecto.




Works by This Painter