Seaside signed and dated 'BELL/58' (lower left), further signed, inscribed and dated '''SEASIDE'' by TREVOR BELL 1958' (on the canvas overlap) oil on canvas 122 x 168 cm. (48 x 66 in.)
PROVENANCE: With The Waddington Galleries, London,Trevor Bell, Paintings, 2- 25 October 1958, no.3 Mr. Edwin Janss JR.
LITERATURE: Chris Stephens, Trevor Bell, Bristol, 2009, p.77 (ill.b&w)
In 1955, on the advice of Terry Frost, Trevor Bell moved to Cornwall. Shortly afterwards he rented a studio with Brian Wall under the Seamen's Mission in St Ives. In Cornwall, Bell was immediately plunged into a vibrant post-war art scene, and a concoction of influences. His work developed quickly and in a new direction. Having worked in a social realist vein prior to his move, Cornwall opened up his mind to the possibilities of an abstraction based on the inspiring landscape in his new environment. A keen sailor from early on in his life, it was no surprise that the sea became an 'oblique' reference point in his abstraction.
Many of the artists of the period were concerned with the idea of regeneration and renewal, having witnessed the atrocities of the Second World War. The sea was an ultimate expression of that concern. Contemporaneous movements in art in the United States were also clearly of interest to Bell, In 1956 the Tate had exhibited works by artists such as Pollock, De Kooning, and Kline in their exhibition Modern Art in the United States.
The contacts Bell made in Cornwall and the progress in his work led to his first one man exhibition in 1958 at Waddington Galleries, in which Seaside was exhibited. The show was such a success that it had sold out by the opening night. Patrick Heron who wrote the catalogue introduction, wrote enthusiastically of Bell's work, describing him as 'the best non-figurative painter under thirty in Britain'. The critical acclaim Bell received for the exhibition did not go unnoticed. In the Autumn of 1959 he won one of the six main painting prizes at the first Paris International Biennale for artists under 35 and was awarded with an Italian Government Scholarship for 1958-59.
Seaside as such is one of the works that sealed Bell's reputation amongst the leading figures in St Ives, and placed him firmly in the history of the period.