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24 September 2014
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May, 2003
Gretel's artistry provides escape
Krazy Kat Boy Racer
Gretel Parker's Krazy Kat Boy Racer on display at Waterstones, Oxford.

Victoria Roddam caught up with artist, Gretel Parker, whose artworks are on display at Waterstones, Oxford, as part of Artweeks Festival.


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By Victoria Roddam

Small figures gambol playfully on a distant seashore; colourful rabbits hurtle along in delightful carrot-shaped racing cars; balloons soar into a starry sky.

Gretel Parker's whimsical and inspired watercolours possess the capacity to carry the viewer into another world, another time - 'Elsewhere', as the exhibition's title would suggest - although they are grounded in a painful reality.

At first glance, Gretel's paintings would appear to be created for children and she admits to having been inspired by such famous illustrators as E. H. Shepherd, Arthur Rackham and Maurice Sendak.

Her outlook, however, has little in common with today's bright, technicolour, jolly view of childhood.

Gretel's creativity and the almost-Victorian melancholia within her work spring in great part from a difficult and poverty-stricken background and her loss at a young age of both parents.

Little Wooden Duck
Little Wooden Duck.

As such, her paintings are as likely to strike a chord with the older viewer, conjuring up the lonelier and more baffling aspects of childhood, memories of which remain with us even into our mature years.

Her surreal and moving artistic vision provided her with an escape route from her troubled circumstances.

Despite leaving school at 16, she obtained a degree in Graphic Design and completed her subsequent Art Foundation course at Oxford Brookes University.

Today, resident in Gloucestershire, she combines her painting with writing and is currently developing an illustrated book project in addition to looking forward to a forthcoming exhibition of her work at the Henley Royal Regatta (July 2-6, Henley-on-Thames).

A vibrant, communicative and above all deeply talented artist, I have no doubt that Gretel will continue to triumph over all odds in what will certainly be a promising and successful painting career.

To see Gretel's work simply click here or send an email here.

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