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From Thames Valley to Ibiza

Charlotte Mensforth was born a Thames Valley girl. She grew up in Twickenham during the second world war, and then studied painting and graphics at Kingston and the Central School of Art,  London. Whilst still a student she had her first important commission of a poster for the London Underground which was used in 1961. She had a brief time in London working freelance as an illustrator, and a spell at an advertising agency. But she soon realized advertising was not for her, and after a year she decided to travel and see if she could make painting a way of life.

The advertising agency had given her six weeks leave of absence. Thus began an adventure which became a lifetime living abroad.

The travels started in Greece, but turned into another adventure when in 1964, on a boat going to the Canary Islands she met the writer Jack Beeching who had been one of the first to discover Ibiza in the fifties. For many aspiring artists of those early days, Ibiza was the place you went to, to write, or even make your way as a painter. The idea of a disco was unheard of.

Jack said the island was becoming too well known and they had just built the airport. And Charlotte, well Greece was getting complicated. Thus began a relationship that lasted 40 years.

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In those days life was very different. Maybe it was more simple. It was still possible to live happily without a phone, a motorcar or even running water. There were still places on the Mediterranium which were cheap and there would be company. It was the mood of the time to try to live on little money and hope for success.

Jack was already an established writer, and Charlotte was starting to sell paintings. They lived in Greece untill there was a military coup. Given three days notice to leave, they moved to Turkey, and later returned to Spain. They lived in Italy and France, and travelled in Latín América. During the eighties Charlotte had a studio in París.

‘It was one of the best things I ever did. I wanted to develop as a painter, and in Paris I met many likeminded spirits. I think also I was still hungrey for adventure.

I started to exhibit in London with the Medici Gallery. In París we met the painter Joe Plaskett who gave me my first introduction to Ottowa and Toronto. Colour had always been the keystone to my painting. I think it was the reason for my success in Canada where people wanted colour and sun on their walls during those long cold winters.

Then in the late nineties I suddenly discovered the three dimentional.  I discovered sculpture. When Jack became ill we went to live in Palma de Mallorca, and over a ten year period I worked in the studio of María Isabel Ballester. Commissions followed. A champion Arab a stallion in  Madrid, and a series of dancers which became bronze, went to París. It was as if the inspiration and energy I found in colour,had become transformed into movement. And as if that energy I had  through a partnership needed to be directed somewhere else.

After Jack died life turned full circle. I returned on a visit to Ibiza in 2010. Sitting at a café that morning and just off the boat, I realized that Ibiza was the place  I wanted to be. I have since had several exhibitions on the island, and a retrospective at Club Diario de Ibiza, the local newspaper. I now feel very much accepted and part of the scene. And should my work, for after all I have just celebrated more than fifty years of painting, move towards the abstract, and move forward into the new centuary? I sometimes wonder. But I am spellbound by the visual world. Through what I see, I try to find something of myself, but perhaps that is how I also find something new.

Charlotte Mensforth.  Santa Eulalia, Ibiza 2015a

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Principal exhibitions

  • Sociedad ‘La Luz’ Agaete Gran Canaria, Spain. 1965
  • Red River Art Centre,
  • Moorhead Minnesota, U.S. A. 1966
  • Galeria Elmyr, Ibiza, 1972
  • Galleria Brunetti, Rome  1972
  • Galleria Trittico, Rome 1972
  • Galerie des Amis des Arts, Aix en Provence, France 1974
  • Galeria Timms, Guatemala 1976
  • The Town Gallery New York 1977
  • Galerie Caors, Marseille, France 1978
  • The Strawberry Hill Gallery, Sydney 1978
  • Galerie Herouet, París 1978 and 1979
  • Galerie Le Soleil Bleu, París 1982
  • Galerie La Clef de la Voute París 1983
  • Medici Gallery London 1983 and 1984
  • Kunsthandler B. Koestler, Munich 1983
  • Chez Terrell, Paris 1983
  • Wallack Galleries, Ottawa, Canada 1986 and 1988
  • Medici Gallery, London 1988
  • Hollander York, Toronto, Canada 1989, 1991 and 1994
  • Grosvenor House London 1996
  • Alliance Francaise, Palma de Mallorca 1996
  • La Galerie, Belgravia, London 1996
  • Le Mur Vivant, Belgravia, London 1996
  • Galeria Mediterránea, Palma de Mallorca 1999
  • Es Porxo, Mallorca 2000
  • Son Palou, Mallorca 2000
  • Decoración Gerd Rethage, Santa María, Mallorca 2002
  • Aaron’s Art, Indianapolis, U.S. A 2003
  • Son Palou Palma de Mallorca 2004
  • La Residencia, Galeria Sa Tafona, Deia, Mallorca 2005
  • Perth Galleries, Western Australia 2007
  • Galeria Mar Gaita, Palma de Mallorca 2008
  • Art House Twickenham England 2008
  • Can Berri, San Agustín Ibiza 2011 and 2012
  • Club Diario de Ibiza 2012
  • El Naranjo, Santa Eulalia Ibiza 2013
  • Súper Mercado de Arte 2013 and 2014?
  • Colectiva Ruta del Arte 2011-2014

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