Sandra Lawrence, British (1945 - )

The Pop Art movement of the 60's achieved international acceptance, but historians have drawn a distinction between American and British Pop Art. Many of them have pointed out that the Pop phenomenon was recognizable earlier in Britain than it was in the United States. It certainly had a liberating effect on British artists.

Among them was Sandra Lawrence. She translated the American life-style in Britain, which often becomes the British aspect of Americanism in England. Lawrence's work is a documentary of this social transference of culture. She is one of the new lights to emerge from the pop-realist move ment in Britain.

Influenced by photo realism in the 70's, her style moved toward romantic realism. The same clarity of technique she demonstrated in her Pop art, Lawrence applied to her still-life series, using less political subject matter. Here, she has reproduced objects to the point where they be come trompe l'oeil.

The use of trompe l'oeil tradition of painting can be best explained through a basic understanding of physical perception. If the depth in a painting is removed, or very greatly reduced, then the eye may be fooled into mistaking a painted subject for a real object. As illustrated in one of Sandra Lawrence's, works, for example, the muscular adjustment required to change the focus of the eye from the fold in a napkin to the flat linen is very slight. If you paint such things, the illusion of reality may be obtained at least for the moment. The momentum of the illusion is extremely important. Our pleasure in trompe l'oeil arises from the realization that our oeil has been tromped!

Sandra Lawrence chooses objects, situations and compositional devices that involve as little perception of depth as possible. The eye stops at the picture plane, while the objects placed upon this flat surface seem to protrude into the spectator's space. To further fool the eye, all of Lawrence's paintings keep the scale of her subject close to the size in which the represented object is seen in normal experience. This also explains why trompe l'oeil is almost entirely used for still life. Still life deals with objects small enough to be represented in their natural size on an canvas' of manageable proportions.

Lawrence's versatility and adventurousness led her to undertake the task of creating the monumental Overlord Tapestry. She was commissioned in 1968 by Lord Dulverton to design and paint full-size cartoons for the Overlord Embroidery. It was commissioned as a permanent memorial to and record of Operation Overlord, the code words for the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944. The embroidery measures 272 feet and is the largest of its kind in the world. It is 33 feet longer than the 11th century Bayeaux Tapestry, which in many ways is the Overlord's medieval counterpart.

Given the extremely difficult medium of pastel and its limitations, Sandra Lawrence has transposed her imagery into a strangely ethereal and surreal series of still lifes.


1968 - 1972

    • Commissioned to design and paint full sized cartoons for "The Overlord Embroidery"- longest embroidered tapestry in the world.


    • The Pension Building, Washington


    • The Canadian war Museum, Ottawa
    • The Contederation Art Gallery & Museum, Charlotte Town
    • The Galhousie Art Gallery, Halifax


    • Harbour Front 74, Queens Quay. west Toronto
    • The Pacific National Exhibition, Exhibition Park, Vancouver
    • The Aibena College of Art., Calgary
    • The Minto Armories, Winnipeg
    • Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London


    • The Guild Hall, London
    • The Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts- 114th Annual Exhibition (by invitation)
    • Finalist in Revolution USA 200 (a competitive exhibition of paintings to commemorate the Bicentenary of the American Revolution) Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London


    • The National Scottish Museums, Edinburg


    • The Overlord Embroidery was unveiled by Her Majesty Oueen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, at the Whitbread Museum, Chiswell Street, City of London, where it is on permanent display.
    • One person exhibition at the Harkness House Gallery at 75th Street, New York City, of the 34 original paintings for the Overlord Embroidery, each 8 feet by 3 feet. The opening was a charity benefit for the New York Branch of the English Speaking union and the Harkness Ballet School. Also shown were 37 paintings (oils, acrylics and pastels). Colby-Sawyer College, New Hampshire

    The Overlord Embroidery was moved from the Whitbread Museum to the D-Day Museum, Portsmouth
    on the south coast of England. The Museum was especially built to house the Embroidery. The Museum was officially opened & the Embroidery unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on June 3rd 1984. D-Day had been prepared for and launched from the south Coast of England, with Portsmouth itself at the very heart of the Operation.

    Sandra Lawrence's 34 original paintings measuring 272ft, the designs for the Overlord Embroidery (painted with gouache onto cartridge paper), gifted to The Pentagon where they are on permanent display. She was presented by the Department of Defence a 'Certificate of Appreciation' on September 29th 2009.

    A major project to create the 'National' Museum of D-Day in Portsmouth, a full scale re- development is in progress. Structural alterations will allow the Embroidery to be seen as a whole 'wow factor'. Work is taking place around the clock in time for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day in 2019.


    Sandra studied at St. Martins School of Art, London, The Byam Shaw School of Art, London and Senora Simi's Academy, Florence, Italy.

    • Solo shows:
      Peter Hyde Fine Arts, London.
      The Gallery Mundi, Caracas.
      Harkness House, NYC.
      The Café Royal, London.
      Overlord Cartoons at Dover Castle, Kent.
      Hamilton Galleries, London.
      Halander Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida.
      Fischer Fine Art, London.
      Group shows:
      Athena Art Awards, London.
      Coe Kerr Gallery, NYC.
      Penwyth Art Gallery, St. Ives, Cornwall.
      Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, Lanarkshire.
      Finalist in 'Revolution USA 2000' an exhibition commemorating the bicentenary of the American Revolution.
      Francis Kyle Gallery, London.
      Art Initiatives 1 & 2 ( curated by Art Search Ltd), London.
      Several times at the Pastel Society, London.
      Several times at The Royal Institute of Oil Painters, London.
      Tyron & Swann Gallery, Cork Street, London.
      Grosvenor Gallery, Albemarle Street, London.
      Several times at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition, London.
      Chichester Open Art Exhibition, Sussex.
      Singer/Friedlander Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 1997/1998.
      Hunting Art Prize at the Royal College of Art, London 1997/1998/1999/2000/2001/2002.
      The Royal Society of Portrait Painters, London.
      The Chelsea Art Society, London.
      The Chalcydon Gallery, Dubai.
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