Bell, Trevor (born 1930): Five Bar, 1978, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 288 cms. Purchased with grant aid from The Nerys Johnson Contemporary Art Fund, The National Art Collections Fund and the MLA/V & A Museum Purchase Fund.
Five Bar was painted in Florida and was inspired by the rocket thrust Bell witnessed on 7 December 1972 at the launch of Apollo 17,the first night time launch of a space mission. The night sky was turned a bright, vivid blue by the rockets exhaust fumes. This sight of extraordinary beauty and awesome power had a great effect on him, inspiring an important series of paintings culminating in Five Bar, which Bell considers one of his finest works.
About the Artist
Trevor Bell is from the pioneering group of artists in St Ives during the 1950s that included Peter Lanyon, Bryan Wynter, Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton and Sir Terry Frost. In 1958 Patrick Heron declared the 28 year-old Bell to be the best non-figurative painter under thirty in Britain. He was born in Leeds and studied at Leeds College of Art. His first one-man exhibition at the Waddington Galleries in London in 1958 was hugely successful and Bell was awarded the Paris Biennale International Painting Prize and an Italian Government Scholarship. He later became Gregory Fellow in Painting at Leeds University. After a larger travelling retrospective in Scotland, Ireland and England in 1970 and a major one-man show at the White Chapel Gallery in London in 1973, Bell was invited to become Professor for Master (Graduate) Painting at Florida State University in Tallahassee. There he developed the large-scale, intensely coloured paintings for which he is best known. He stayed there for over twenty years, returning to live and work in west Cornwall in the 1990s. A major exhibition of his work was held at Tate St Ives in 2004-05.