Bernard Carter at the Nunnery Gallery, London

Bernard Arthur Ruston (Sam) Carter was one of the artists closely associated with the East London Group. His painting, St Anne's, Soho features in a new exhibition dedicated to the work of the Group at Bow Arts, at the Nunnery Gallery, London until 7 December.

St Anne's, Soho

© B A R Carter

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Rising above the rooftops and gables of Soho on an overcast day, the tower of St Anne's Church dominates this painting by Bernard Arthur Ruston Carter. The composition has an accuracy and realism to it that feels almost photographic. Carter – known as Sam – was associated with the East London Group, whose artists gained great public prominence through exhibitions and press interest during the 1920s and '30s. Carter first exhibited his work with the Group in London in late 1935. Soon after, as a result of meeting Bloomsbury artist, Duncan Grant, he began attending classes taught by leading members of the Euston Road School. An influential group founded in 1937 by William Coldstream, Claude Rogers and Victor Pasmore, the School advocated painting in a realist style and from everyday, usually London-based subjects. They also advocated a strict measuring system – certainly in Carter's painting, St Anne's, Soho, there is a clear sense of perspective and proportion – however, this aspect later drew Carter away from associating with the School.

Bernard Arthur Ruston Carter, painter, teacher and writer, was born in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. His formal education prepared him for a career in the diplomatic service: he learnt to speak French fluently, and completed a modern languages degree at Cambridge University in 1932. However, during his time in Cambridge, Carter discovered a love for art, and he became involved with designing posters.

Carter abandoned thoughts of a diplomatic career, and in the 1920s, took up several drawing classes at the East London Art Club in Bow, and part time classes at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, both of which were led by artist and teacher, John Albert Cooper. At Central, Carter also benefited from tuition by the artists, Bernard Meninsky and William Roberts.

After the War, Carter exhibited his work in a Euston Road School show at Wakefield City Art Gallery in 1948; followed by an Arts Council exhibition in 1948–49. He taught at Camberwell School of Art (1945–49) and then at the Slade School of Art from 1949, remaining there for 30 years. He became Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy Schools (1975–83) and his work on perspective featured in academic publications including The Oxford Companion to Art. He was an expert on the work of Piero della Francesca, the early Italian Renaissance artist whose paintings are characterised by their bold geometrical composition and colour. Carter regularly exhibited still life works in Royal Academy Summer exhibitions. Examples of Carter's work are represented in the major public collections including the Arts Council, the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, Museum of London and The Contemporary Art Society.

Further information

The Working Artist: The East London Group
Bow Arts Nunnery Gallery
183 Bow Road
London E3 2SJ

Telephone: 020 8980 7774 (extension 3)
Email: nunnery@bowarts.com