Life of influential Clevedon artist and political activist remembered

PUBLISHED: 16:29 04 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:29 04 January 2018

Doris Hatt

Doris Hatt

Contributed

An exhibition is being held to showcase the work of an influential 20th century Clevedon artist.

Born in 1890, Doris Hatt moved to Clevedon in the late 1920s after completing artistic studies in London at both the Royal College of Art and Goldsmith’s College.

But it was Doris’ education in Paris which really shaped her artistic direction, drawing on the influences of famous names including iconic Cubists Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger.

Upon moving to Clevedon in 1929, Doris opened her own studio where she put on free weekly art classes and gave public talks on the subject.

Her friend and supporter Professor Peter Millard said: “There was nothing brutal about Doris’ paintings, nothing raw.

“It is typical of English artists to take an international style, and then to soften and lyricize it, giving it an essentially English sensitivity.”

During the 1930s, inheritance from her affluent family enabled Doris to build a modern house and studio known as Littlemead, in Walton Road, where she lived and worked with long-term partner Margery Mack Smith.

The home became a hub for radical activity in both art and politics, with regular Sunday meetings held for communists, a group she supported, which caused a stir among Clevedon’s largely-conservative population.

She would also regularly visit Clevedon’s pubs selling communist newspaper Daily Worker.

Politics and feminism played a huge part in Doris’ life and she became a member of the Independent Labour Party shortly after the end of World War One with the strong beliefs in equality and fairness.

But, in response to the rise of Fascism in the 1930s, Doris joined the Communist Party and stood as a communist candidate in Clevedon during the 1946 local elections.

Her election leaflet included the statement: “I believe that Clevedon Council can not be representative of the majority of the Clevedon people unless there is an increase of councillors with working class sympathies.

“I think also that women should be represented on the council.

“At present there are no women councillors.”

An exhibition of Doris Hatt’s work will run until January 29 at the Court Gallery in West Quantoxhead, Somerset.

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