Original oil painting on canvas board
Framed (without glazing as traditional for oil painting)
Date of Artwork: June 2021
Location of Signature: Bottom Right
FRAMED SIZE: 485 x 638mm / 48.5 x 63.8cm / 19.1 x 25.1 inches
Frame options: Putty without mount, Oak without mount
Please note: Our framers are recognised by the Fine Art Trade Guild for their quality because the custom frames have tightly pinned corners, and are made from precision cut wood in England, made bespoke for each order.
Read more about our FRAMING WORKSHOP here
STORY | THE COLLECTOR
Working from her beachside studio on the Hampshire coast, Unity Coombes surrounds herself with all sorts of objects she has collected over the years, which have found their way into this series of large scale oil paintings.
Her new work recounts temporary compositions of objects from memory and imagination, drawn from years of working in museums. Unity cites a decade-long period working at the Ashmoleon Museum in Oxford as a real period of inspiration, particularly the early Chinese porcelain collection she worked on.
“Long before I started working in museums I was a collector. I have always been a magpie, drawn to beautiful and unusual objects and I found my own collection of ceramics, art and books incredibly comforting during the pandemic lockdowns. They grounded me with the thought that many had existed for years before me and had lived through times of unrest and uncertainty.”
Treasures on display in Unity’s collection include ruffs, shoes, gloves, shells, bowls and curiosities which are all suspended against bold, colourful backdrops - a distinct signature of Unity’s work.
As well as drawing on her own precious pieces for inspiration, as soon as The Shop Floor Project commissioned Unity to create a new series of paintings, she also began to research public collections:
“I started with those that I knew best at the Ashmoleon Museum, revisiting Indian miniatures and Delft ceramics I hadn’t seen in months. It felt like I had rediscovered old friends, familiar patterns, colours, wear and tear all flooding back as I looked at the images on my iPad and began to sketch out ideas.”
“Memories of my time in the museum came rushing back; of opening boxes barely touched for centuries, transporting precious glass objects on noisy trollies, waiting for the service lifts, shivering in the cold stores and inscribing tiny numbers onto objects.”
As well as the collections at the Ashmoleon museum, Unity has taken inspiration from other collections and institutions, including botanical studies at The Garden Museum from the John Tradescant archive, a 17th century English naturalist, gardener, collector and traveller.
A delightful recurring theme in the paintings is the gauntlet or glove. Some have intricate stitching with embroidered creatures and flowers, others are more graphic with designs etched into plain leather. Unity was particularly drawn to the Elizabethan gauntlets on display at the Ashmoleon which she would often sketch.
For a series of paintings which depict historical objects, Unity’s collection is bursting with life and energy. Just as a museum curator carefully selects objects to tell a story, Unity composes a personal narrative of her world through the grouping of real and recalled treasures, a series of paintings which act as her very own museum.