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Julia Sorrell (born 4 August 1955) is a British artist known for her portraits and imaginative drawings and paintings using figures and natural forms such as wood, shells, rock and plants using a range of media from pencil, charcoal, pen & ink, pastel, watercolour and oil.[1][2][3] She currently lives in Norfolk and exhibits in London at the Mall Galleries as a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and the Royal Society of British Artists.


Early lifeEdit

The daughter of the artist Alan Sorrell (1904-1974)[4][5] and the watercolourist Elizabeth Sorrell (1916-1991),[6] she grew up in a converted chapel in Daws Heath, southeast Essex, surrounded by trees and woodlands which were to be an inspiration for her later work.[7][8][9]


She studied textiles and embroidery under Constance Howard MBE at Goldsmiths' College (1973-6) who purchased her work to use as examples in talks and publications.[10][11] She was taught drawing by Betty Swanwick RA (who was to produce the artwork for albums by rock group Genesis), and she sold her first work at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition at the age of 19. Following the death of her father, she turned more towards drawing and painting, and gained a place at the Royal Academy of Arts(1978–81). Whilst a student there her self-portrait gained second prize in the first National Portrait Gallery, London Portrait Award, 1980, now known as the BP Portrait Award.[12] This led to a series of portrait commissions including one from the National Portrait Gallery to paint Michael Ramsey, the ex- Archbishop of Canterbury.[13] Her letters describing this experience were borrowed by Michael Ramsey's biographer Owen Chadwick [14] who then passed them on to the library of Lambeth Palace.

In the 1990s she exhibited at the Maas Gallery with the dealer Rupert Maas, and had a series of paintings purchased by the collector Professor Philip Rieff which were then exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1996. A decade later she was exhibiting with Waterhouse and Dodd, Cork Street.

She was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 2008, the Royal Society of British Artists in 2009, and the Norwich Twenty Group in 2010. Her work is also in the collections of the Beecroft Art Gallery, the Chelmsford Museum, Reading Museum, New Hall Art Collection[15] and Laporte plc. She is a frequent contributor to The Artist magazine.


  1. ^ "Wood Wonders" in Tree News Issue 11 Spring/Summer 2006: pp 51
  2. ^ "A Second Look at Natural Forms" by Julia Sorrell, The Artist Vol. 122 No. 7 July 2007 916 pp 37-39
  3. ^ "A dream of a portrait" by Julia Sorrell, The Artist Vol.126 No.12 Nov. 2011 pp 51-53
  4. ^ Alan Sorrell
  5. ^ "Alan Sorrell: The Man who created Roman Britain" by Julia Sorrell in British Archaeology No.127 Nov/Dec 2012 pp 26-7
  6. ^ Elizabeth Sorrell
  7. ^ "An Artist's memories of a living wood" by Julia Sorrell Living Woods No 20, Jan/Feb 2012 pp 20-21,
  8. ^ Woodland trust - Ancient Tree Forum: Julia Sorrell Ancient Tree Forum. Archived 2012-04-26 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Save Our Woods: An Appreciation of Trees by Julia Sorrell
  10. ^ Goldsmiths Textile Collection and Constance Howard Gallery: Julia Sorrell
  11. ^ Howard, C. (1984), Twentieth-century Embroidery in Great Britain 1964-77:003
  12. ^ The Portrait Award 1980-89: Ten Years of the John Player Portrait Award by William Packer, published by the National Portrait Gallery 1992
  13. ^ National Portrait Gallery: Julia Sorrell
  14. ^ Chadwick, O. (1990), Michael Ramsey, A Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press p.394
  15. ^ New Hall Art Collection: Julia Sorrell

External linksEdit