Janet Samson’s (1940 – 2019) whole career defined an artist’s engagement with the culture and social history of the north of England. She earned a distinction in post-graduate printmaking at Manchester Regional College of Art in 1962 – a course where the rigour and discipline would have been familiar to any atelier system in the 19th century. Samson was always a Modern British painter, her influences unsurprisingly derived from Graham Sutherland, Walter Sickert, and the Kitchen Sink painter Edward Middleditch, all united in art for art’s sake and all significant artists to the new, post-war, generation of painters. Samson took her MA in Leeds. Hers was a generation inducted into the art school system solely on merit and impervious to the distractions of fame and fortune – perhaps more so in the northern counties whose celebrated scions tended to move south and join an ‘art world’ centered on the London gallery circuit.
Samson spent her whole life devoted to the dedicated pursuance of painting, with occasional departures into printmaking. Her subjects were traditional in essence – interiors (with hints at a human presence via her totems: clothes, rumpled sheets and, particularly, reflections) and the stark brooding grandeur of nearby landscapes – the Yorkshire Dales and the Pennines. The palette often sombre and of the earth, of the shaded room. There is a clear voice and an understated authenticity in this work and Bermondsey Project Space has no hesitation in commending these paintings in this brief tribute to the artist, who died late last year aged 79. “What matters it what went before or after, now with myself I will begin and end.” William Shakespeare