March 2017 – November 2017
This exhibition presented works by Fay Ballard, a British artist based in London. Exploring memories of her parents and childhood, the works on display mapped Ballard’s rediscovery of her past after the death of her father. The exhibition also explored Ballard’s love of nature, delicately capturing the botanical world.
The works on display include three of Fay Ballard’s Memory Boxes, each showing an array of beautifully observed objects. Memory Box: Drawn from Life (2012) shows objects found by Ballard on return to her childhood home after the death of her father J.G. Ballard in 2009. The objects include a dog’s pedigree certificate, a diver’s flipper still found wedging a door open and a preserved lemon sitting on a mantel shelf. Each drawing invites you to investigate the objects on display. In Memory Box: Drawn from Memory (2012) a swimming cap of hydrangea petals and her mother’s Playtex girdle in a floral patterned fabric are presented. Both these objects form single drawings also on display here. In Memory Box: About my father (2012) Ballard shows objects representing her father including an illustration of the Surrealist artist Max Ernst’s Attirement of the Bride (1940) and a yucca plant bought by his daughter over 30 years ago.
Fay Ballard writes: ‘As we make our way through the myriad of ‘stuff’ which remains — the familiar, forgotten and unfamiliar, we discover and rewrite the past, calibrating our memories and thoughts, shifting the sense of ourselves and our life story … The memory boxes commemorate and celebrate these objects which stir the memory and unlock the past.’
The other works on display here illustrate Ballard’s interest in nature. Homage to Durer (2006) pays tribute to Albrecht Dürer’s masterpiece Great Piece of Turf (1503), a meticulous observation of wild flowers. In 2007, she was elected to the Royal Watercolour Society. The following year, Ballard was commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales to paint watercolours of flora for the Highgrove Florilegium at his estate in the Cotswolds. In July 2016, she took part in The Transylvanian Florilegium, spending two weeks in Romania recording plants growing on the steppe pastures. Ballard is currently participating in a project for The Royal College of Physicians Florilegium, recording the Garden of Medicinal Plants to celebrate the College’s 400th anniversary in 2018.
Fay Ballard’s work is held in many public and private collections including the Huntington Library and Art Collections in Los Angeles, New Hall Art Collection (Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge) and Winsor and Newton.
Fay Ballard writes about her work being on display here: ‘I am delighted to be able to share my work with patients, visitors and staff at Charing Cross Hospital. Coming to hospital can be an anxious time and I hope that my drawings bring some comfort, joy and beauty. The NHS is our national treasure and what better place to exhibit than here?’
Since January 2017, Fay Ballard has been holding weekly practical art workshops to patients on the Auchi Dialysis Unit at Hammersmith Hospital. Her deep art historical knowledge and conversations with patients have led to a beautifully written and illustrated blog.