TRUDA LANE

TRUDA LANE

There have always been artists – and most often, it seems, they are women – who from the outset bring to their work a vision so innately their own, so realised, and so much a part of their own distinctive way of expression, that we tend to view them as apart from their time, impossible to categorise, and so perhaps eccentric. They come with an integrity complete, and perhaps with that quality W B Yeats called “unity of being” which affords their work a self-expressive immediacy, authentic, original and free from any obvious influence. For instance, among poets, Emily Dickenson, Stevie Smith; among novelists, Jean Rhys, Ivy Compton-Burnett; among painters, Gwen John, Winifred Nicholson, Mary Newcomb. This same quality, as always the more conclusive for being entirely unselfconscious, is the hallmark of Truda Lane’s work.

It’s unusual for a serious artist to have devoted so much of her life to what one might have supposed was the limiting means of drawing. Early on there were paintings, but at the Slade already Truda was beginning to bring her focus to draughtsmanship – for which as a student she was awarded prizes. Shortly after, she and her husband, John Lane, painter and writer, went to live in Yorkshire. “I lost my heart to that glorious North Riding landscape in a way I’ve not done since. And through that wild landscape I have sought expression for human emotion and life’s struggles.”

In these early drawings her idiom – the series of searching lines that somehow discover an extraordinary strength, her simple but highly tensile compositions, economy of wash and hints of colour that seem to spring naturally from the drawing itself, even the occasional startling detail that anticipates her later style – seems already established. The subjects are also simple, graphic, often severe, and intensely poetic. But already one is sensing her emerging fascination and conversancy with an inner world and its store of traditional reference and meaning. Often one is quakingly aware that there are stories abroad, magic, spell-bound moments frozen from folk-tale with all their ambivalence of light and dark.

Not surprising then that later, perhaps triggered by commissions to illustrate, this familiarity with – and instinctive command of – folk and fairy tale became a dominant influence on much of her work. But even when this narrative sense informs her drawings, they are always more than illustrations. Often – even those which more recently might be thought to be glances back to her Catholic education – they achieve a feeling of captured momentary enchantment – quite disturbing,

as if, true to the force of folk-tale, the survival of the world is in the balance. Her figures too, at first deceptive glance mannered, even a shade innocuous, are later discovered to be the closely observed, fully realised inhabitants of this ambiguous inner world, and so vehicles of taut, magical expression.

In her recent work she has increasingly been drawing with a brush. More colour, but still subdued as if to be true to the monochrome of some secret world of enchantment. The brush introduces a new freedom of line, and maybe achieves new dream-intensity for this real and imagined world.

Much is made of a woman’s capacity for “multi- tasking”. But with Truda Lane there is a singleness that unifies the vocations of housewife and artist that are usually assumed to be at odds. A discipline, economy, almost an austerity, that finds meaning through unremitting, unquestioned practice. A constancy that extends to her enduring, and surely symbiotic relationship with Resurgence Magazine. These are qualities that one might expect to show in an unyielding, hard-edged style. One is quite taken aback to find the contrary – a line so intensely felt it appears natural, in fact something of nature, and alive with an untoiled sense of devotion.







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