Reflections of Isobel K Lornie

The Liverpool Academy of Arts, 32 Seel St, Liverpool L1 4BE
Runs to 16th June 2011

Reviewed by Gayna Rose Madder

Many will be familiar with the work of June Lornie, a well-established, prolific artist in her own right. She is also proprietor of The Liverpool Academy of Arts, along with her husband David, of whom Isobel Kathleen Lornie (12/06/19 - 17/02/93) was a much loved aunt. Isobel, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, had a strict and religious upbringing, and lived all her life in the family house in Edinburgh.

When she was nineteen she contracted rheumatic fever which left her with a weakened heart. Engaged to be married, she broke it off as she did not want to be a burden. Subsequently she courageously submitted to four operations in the early days of heart surgery heart surgery, but sadly was left with a weak heart.

Obtaining a diploma at Edinburgh College of Art; she also retained an enduring faith evident in her work.

This quite remarkable and unusually personal exhibition forms a crystalline sample of a bygone period in time. From the artist's college days there are wonderful examples of influence the Art Deco and even Art Nouveau movements in her anatomical studies, figure drawing and, especially, design work

Before her heart problems occurred she had contemplated a career in fabric/ wallpaper design, examples of which form an important historic reference in this exhibition, as well as evidence of an emerging skill and flair which doubtless would otherwise have developed further. Her deep religious faith adds depth of understanding to the beautifully illuminated calligraphic manuscripts on display.

After Isobel died in 1993, all the pieces shown here were discovered in her home. Her family thought a fitting tribute to show the art work of a brave and talented woman, hampered lifelong by ill-health.

This exhibition is a rare thing. It encapsulate a period of time, which can be witnessed now exactly as it was. the young, talented ambitious girl is present as these images are viewed. It clearly represents an era where craftsmanship was highly valued. Her lesson plans as a teacher, shown alongside the work she inspired in students, is a testament to the perfectionism she aspired to, and usually achieved, in all she did.

It is also the story of a remarkable woman, head of her time, who continued, through her work, despite adversity, to push her own boundaries. The wonderfully eclectic selection of fascinating period pieces, executed with an astonishing eye for detail, deserves to be seen and would make a wonderful book.

The Liverpool Academy of Arts, 32 Seel St, Liverpool L1 4BE.
Tel: 0151 709 0735. Web:

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