Joan Baker- Auction

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On September 28thwe will be holding an auction of celebrated artist Joan Baker’s work at Insole Court.

A collection of her oil paintings has been generously donated to Insole Court in order to fund raise for the gardens. Joan was a much loved local artist who fused her love of gardens with her love of painting.

From an early age Joan Baker knew she wanted to be ‘a painter who gardened or a gardener who painted’. Her quiet, reflective work gives us an insight into her personal connection with the landscape.


Through her creative routine and habitual interpretation of the landscapes and coastline of south Wales she produced a substantial body of work over a seventy-year career.

‘I always choose to work from direct experience and personal observation trying to realise the ground beneath my feet and the sky above my head and all that happens in between; this I find absorbs me entirely.’

From an early age she knew she wanted to be 'a painter who gardened or a gardener who painted'


Born in Cardiff in 1922. Local to Insole Court she first went to Howells School for Girls in Llandaff. Then at 16 she began studying at Cardiff School of Art, as the only girl awarded a scholarship. She began her studies in 1939 and was taught by the head of the college, the war artist and surrealist Evan Charlton, and by Ceri Richards. Following her training, she stayed on for her teacher training and later returning to teach at the college herself. While at Cardiff School of Art she taught many generations of artists and her students included Ernest Zobole.

Joan exhibited extensively in Wales from 1948 to 1962 and had her first solo exhibition - Joan Baker: A Chosen Way - at Cardiff College of Art's Howard Gardens Gallery in 1984. She has continued to paint the coast, gardens, parks, woods and hills of Glamorgan ever since. She retired in 1983 and in 1984 a retirement exhibition was held of her landscape paintings.

Her work is characterised by assured brushwork and an out-of-doors airiness, according to Dr Ceri Thomas in her obituary. He goes on to say that ‘her exhibits lovingly depicted coastal and inland locations in Cardiff and the rest of south Wales, a region she knew intimately.’ Joan focused on this subject matter for the remainder of her career. Dr Thomas also comments ‘She stated that if dropped anywhere in the Vale of Glamorgan, she would be able to tell from the pebbles and rocks, or the flora and fauna, exactly where she was.’


Joan made an impact on both admirers of her work, and of course her students over the years. David Hampson has fond memories of Joan and her work he says:

I remember Joan Baker from 1966, when I was an 18 year old student on the Foundation Course at Cardiff College of Art.

Early September that year, I heard there were a few places left on the course so went along to apply. I hadn’t studied art at school, but I was interested in studying Industrial Design. The foundation year was the route to this.

I didn’t have much art to show but went along with my sketches and drawings of my product ideas.

I was interviewed by Joan Baker who was so enthusiastic and encouraging. She made me feel very special. She said a candidate wanting to do Industrial Design was quite rare, that I was accepted and should start the next Monday.

I remember her as a tall, slim refined person. She wore her hair up in a plaited bun and her clothes were elegant in an understated artistic way.

Joan was head of the foundation course. She worked alongside the acerbic college director, Tom Hudson. He used to sweep through the classrooms like an old school hospital consultant with his young junior lecturers in tow.

Joan was always kind and encouraging, Tom Hudson more abrasive. But I had the impression they both complemented and respected each other. It was a happy atmosphere. We were worked long and hard but were well motivated. I felt that I was part of something special and it still compares well to any course I did afterwards.

At that time, I think Joan was quite private about her own work. Most of the other lecturers entered their work into competitions or exhibitions, but I cannot remember Joan doing so.

And me? Well Joan Baker’s foundation course proved to be a good foundation for me. I went on to do a degree in Industrial Design, then later Clinical Engineering. I spent all of my career in design and development of products, a path started due to that day in 1966 when I showed my sketches to Joan.

David Hampson. September 2019


On Saturday 28th September we will be dedicating a day to Joan's work at Insole Court culminating with an auction of her work. Work will be on display from 12.30pm in Carriage House Hall.

During the day there will also be an opportunity to take part in a colour mixing workshop to learn techniques inspired by Baker's work (2.30pm) and prior to the auction there will be a talk on Joan Baker's life with Joan Baker expert, Dr Ceri Thomas, to learn all about her life, work and passion (3.30pm)

Auctioneer – Dan Clayton-Jones, Chair of Insole Court Trust.

Reserve price £100. All proceeds to Insole Court Trust

Paintings can be taken on the day.

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