Spotlight on an Artist: Nancy Bailey

(1913 - 2012)

20/05/2024     Artworks

Maritime artist Nancy Bailey was born in England in 1913. She was not always a painter; starting out her creative business in her teens by taking photos of her surroundings and in turn selling them as postcards around the UK. Nancy came from a family of nomads, not wanting to stay in one place for too long and encouraging one-another to explore further a field. The artist’s work clearly reflects this desire for adventure and exploration as she depicts the coastlines of Britain and Ireland, with a particular fondness for Cornwall.


Bailey and her family lived in Enniskillen and Oranmore for a number of years until she and her mother moved back to England in 1963. While in Ireland, Bailey became rather successful at producing marquetry works, and even had an apprentice working under her. She had tried her hand at a variety of mediums, all complimenting and adding to one another, but it was not until she turned 50 and returned to England that she took to painting as a career.


A key characteristic to Bailey’s work, and one that makes it undoubtedly an original, is that she never painted with a brush and only ever used a palette knife to apply paint to the canvas. The scenes that she is depicting are often rough, natural locations that have been untouched by people, and so the use of a palette knife rather than a brush contributes to this ruggedness.


Bailey continued to paint until she turned 90 in 2004, after she had opened her last exhibitions at St. Mary’s in Cornwall. Her work is recognisable for the lively water and the natural feel of the land. This can be felt in lot 425 in this month’s auction which is a landscape of Lough na Fooey in Connemara by Bailey.

Newsletter Signup