Maureen Wilkinson was born in London in 1944. Her father lost his sight in an accident shortly after her birth, and thereafter the family lived in fairly frugal circumstances.  Throughout her childhood she acted as her father’s ‘eyes’, describing things to him and guiding his excursions, and these experiences were to have a profound effect upon her later perceptions as an artist and poet.  In the mid 60’s she studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, where she met and married fellow student Fred Wilkinson. After graduating she exhibited in solo and group shows in the UK and Europe, before working for fifteen years as a teacher to emotionally disturbed adolescents, and later to younger dyslexic pupils.

As a working mother with three young children there was little time during these years to pursue her career as an artist, and instead she translated her visual ideas into poetry.  During the 1980’s and 90’s she won several major literary prizes, was published by Peterloo Poets, and had work included in many anthologies.  Poems were often inspired by intensely visual ideas or visual sequences, and this has resulted in her current practice of partnering poetry with some visual works, and the inclusion of text in some pictures.

In 1981 Maureen moved to a small farm in Cornwall with her husband and family.  Virtually overnight they became farmers...growing fruit and vegetables, hand-milking two house-cows and rearing pigs, poultry, sheep and cattle in an attempt to become self-sufficient.   She was enchanted by the space, solitude and beauty of her new environment, and an awareness of ‘self’ within an intimately known landscape  became a profound creative influence.

In the mid 1980s the Wilkinsons embarked on a period of world travel, their trips embracing South America, Nepal, India, China and Thailand, but particularly focusing on the Far East.  They eventually made more than 40 trips to the Indonesian island of Bali to study its art and culture. This led in 1988 to the opening of Cornwall’s renowned Morning Price Gallery in Falmouth, specializing in ethnic Art &Crafts from around the world.  In the early 90s they opened a second gallery in Falmouth and others in Penzance and Penryn.  The Wilkinsons were early pioneers of fair trade.  They personally purchased and commissioned their stock directly from artists and craftsmen at source in the country of origin, and later provided well-paid regular employment for about 200 craft families in some of the poorer regions of the world.  Their Falmouth Gallery remained open until 2004 when the business emphasis switched from retail to web-based wholesale.  Trading as World Art & Crafts the Company supplied fair trade decorative and ethnic handicrafts to retailers throughout the UK and Europe until its eventual sale in 2010.

In 2008 Maureen moved to a cliff top home in Mullion, Cornwall, where she lives with her artist/photographer husband Fred and their two red setters.


My work is largely figurative, and although I would not regard myself as a landscape artist I find the intricacy, patterns and rhythms of the natural world a constant source of pleasure and fascination.  I think a good deal about my own physicality as I move within my days; walking, painting, gardening, carrying out routine tasks, and of course steadily using up my own finite lifespan.  I am interested in the nature of time, and the human form within the rhythms of seasons, tides, bird flight and so on, and the larger infinity of nature. This duality seems to me to gift a sense of grandeur, eternity and musicality to existence.

My work alternates between oil on canvas, collage made from hand painted and embellished papers, and work in which watercolour is combined with coloured drawing. Of these the latter is the more complex in form and the slowest to execute, with each work taking around a month to complete.  I feel that this work is closely akin to my poetry.  Both have a narrative sense, creating magical worlds of translucence in which objects and people overlap and enclose each other.  In all three media figures often appear in the work, and these are invariably female, perhaps simply because I am a woman myself.

In my painting and poetry I often explore the idea of time passing, sometimes introducing a series of sequences in the work, as is seen in Bluebell Strip Cartoon, Seeing Yellow and Bringing the Nightcow Down, and Walking through Rockpools.

I have come to realize that many of my personal perceptions are synesthetic...that words and numbers sometimes seem to have colour and taste, and that when I am painting words often jostle for a place in the picture.  Some artworks are partnered by poems, or have poetry or text embedded in them.  For this reason I have included a gallery of pictures with poems, and a separate poetry area accessed via the toolbar.

There are a number of ideas I am exploring in my current work:

  • Combining media within a single piece, for example painterly collage together with passages of drawn and watercolour work.
  • Abstracts created from the marks, shapes and textures of painted and embellished collage papers.
  • Strip cartoon sequences - perhaps using a simplified version of the multi media format of ‘Days’.
  • Triptych and diptych - sometimes linked with separately framed lines of poetry.

I simply love painting and writing, and cannot really make sense of the world when I am not creating.  I like to think that my work is sensual, sensitive, exuberant and celebratory.