You enter the Grey Area Gallery space bellow ground level, to be confronted with the many painted faces of Mary Bell. Artist Cathy Lomax is fascinated with painting portraits of girls she could become in her dreams or her nightmares. In this exhibition, “girls world”, she focuses upon the face of Mary Bell, a ten year old girl convicted of two murders in 1968.
By repetitively painting Mary again and again with the same fixed daze, it is as if Cathy is trying to understand the inner thoughts of Mary Bell, trying to comprehend what it takes for a ten year old girl to commit murder. Obsessively she finishes one painting and unsatisfied with her findings she continues to start another. Every portrait is the same but it is obvious that each was painted separately, with new thought and a slight difference of shade in places, making Mary’s features differ.
To one side of the gallery there is a small cluster of cute domestic frames also filled with Mary’s portrait, but even these delicate teddy and heart shaped surroundings do not give Mary’s glare much comfort.
I am uncertain that Cathy found what she was looking for in Mary’s face, as the show leaves you with an eerie unsettled feeling, and I am sure Cathy will continue to paint Mary, possibly forever.
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