Talks by Julia Sorrell


Julia gives an autobiographical talk exploring her life as an artist, her upbringing within an artistic family, her training at Goldsmith’s College and the RA Schools, her embroidery/textiles, portraits, and imaginative work both figurative and based on natural forms. In more recent years Julia has been developing compositions from her imagination, “drawn from the mind” with an underlying geometric structure.


This talk explores the unusual relationship between two artists  - a father and daughter.  Using examples from the past yet concentrating on the relationship between Julia’s own life, work and career and that of her father, Alan.

Many know Alan Sorrell for his archaeological reconstruction drawings produced for the Illustrated London News, the then Ministry of Works, and many other museums, books etc.. He worked with many of the famous names of British archaeology of the day including Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Cyril and Aileen Fox and Nash-Williams, who had a huge respect for him and his work. His influence was huge on the developing generation of historians and archaeologist. Few people know about the man behind these images, so characterised by their dark stormy clouds, dramatic landscapes, bustling people and horses rearing. The talk is a passionate appreciation by a daughter of a remarkable man.

In 1962 Alan Sorrell was at the pinnacle of his career, the official archaeological artist for the Illustrated London News as well as the then Ministry of Works, his illustrations of our heritage appearing in books, magazines, newspapers as well on postcards and prints displayed at our best known heritage sites.


At the same time with the help of Russian money and engineers, the largest of all dams was being built on the greatest of all rivers, and whole of the ancient land of Nubia was to be flooded to create Lake Nasser.


The Egyptian minister of culture, Dr Okasha launched an international appeal for help to save many of the famous monuments and the greatest of all Unesco heritage recue missions was initiated. International teams of archaeologists worked to uncover the secrets of a region whilst their was still time.


The legendary editor of the Illustrated London News, Sir Bruce Ingrams sent Alan Sorrell off to draw the monuments, but the artist was fired up with the injustice about to be served on a gentle people whose ancient villages and culture was about to be lost forever.


Based on Alan Sorrell’s  unpublished account “Last Boat to Nubia”, and illustrated with his drawings from the trip, this talk relives tale of his greatest adventure.


Elizabeth Sorrell RWS (1916—91) is renowned for her meticulous watercolour paintings where she created  her own imaginative world so highly influenced by  her early upbringing in North Yorkshire.


Julia explores her mother’s way of life, her home, garden ,embroideries etc. and how all of these culminated in her exquisite works of art.

In 2015 Julia was awarded the first ACE TravelArt award, and commissioned to produce an exhibition of work based on the landscape and archaeology of Orkney. This talk  is an account of her five week trip to Orkney, how it inspired her as an artist and enabled her to create the work for the exhibition. It can be heard for the first time at the Art Workers Guild, 13th May at 6.30pm.


Alan & Elizabeth Sorrell met during the war and married in 1947. This talk describes their journey through life together, how each developed their own individual style, yet  working alongside each other. From their Essex studio—the hub of their home– work was created, people entertained and children played. Julia recounts her unusual upbringing which seemed so normal at the time.

 Julia Sorrell RI

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