Philippa Beale

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Philippa Beale
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Philippa Beale is a conceptual political artist and a founding member of the Arborealists. In particular her work employs semiotic images, using real places or situations which represents similar venues or events. Collectors often say ‘I bought this because it reminded me of……’; in this way the audience continues and often completes her work. She became known in the late 70s and 80s for her iconic works about advertising: Baby Love, Love Story, Children in Peril, which were exhibited in the public domain.

Early life and education

Born in 1946 in Winchester, Beale grew up in an early 18th Century theatre, the premises of her father’s workshop. Joseph Vaux Beale was a master gunmaker who worked for Manton’s in Calcutta before settling in Winchester, where he held Royal Letters Patent for the Trusty Servant cartridge. He was a respected engraver and taught the artist Henry Wilkinson, son of the Principal of Winchester School of Art.

Beale’s mother Joan came from a family of designers and engineers, most notably her grandfather who designed the first diesel locomotive for Hudswell Clarks in Leeds, UK. Joan Beale owned a shop in the 1960s run as an all-female co-operative. During Beale’s childhood her parents contributed to an atmosphere of artistic perfection and female independence which would be key to her emergence as an artist in the 1970s.

As part of a longstanding family tradition, Beale went to school in Brussels but at sixteen from 1962-64 she attended Winchester School of Art, where she met her first husband, the artist David Troostwyk[1]. She continued to study psychology and philosophy at the Universities of London and Reading during a period when French semiotic philosophers and Prof. Richard L Gregory[2] were teaching. In 1984 she completed studies in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and continued her personal professional development resulting in her higher research degrees in CGI as well as supervising research degrees for professionals in art and design.


Beale ’s career started in 1972 with a 3-dimensional one-person exhibition The Highgate Series at Camden Art Centre[3]. Since then she has shown a clear progression from 3-dimensional and spatial works to predominately 2-dimensional lens-based images incorporating text. She exhibited in Women’s Images of Men at The Institute of Contemporary Art[4] in London, The Arnolfini[5] in Bristol and The Fruit Market Gallery[6], Edinburgh. Often her work involved trees including Collected from There, a series of sculptures and photographs about an orchard at the Angela Flowers Gallery[7], London and Newton’s Wonder composed of thousands of real apples as an installation at The Richard Dermarco[8] Gallery, Edinburgh. The ephemeral traces of her installation Collected From Here at the Acme Gallery[9] are now archived at The Whitechapel Gallery[10], London.

In 1981, His Ears are Small and Neat, His Chest is Covered With Soft Brown Hair, two multi-linguistic installations were shown at the Akulmulatory Galleria, Poland. In 1983 she became the first and only ‘artist in residence’ at Southampton City Art Gallery[11] which culminated in the exhibition Blue Bird, a study of the childhoods of artists. She continued into the 1990s, revisiting her billboards by producing video billboards and large installation formats via the GMI Video Screen in London’s Leicester Square with 11 mins on Leicester Square (2000) and Art School(2001) both of which ran for six weeks. Her film From Wilson to Callaghan exhibited at the ICA and other public spaces, which resulted in Europe-wide sales including Tate Britain[12]. The Chronology of From Wilson to Callaghan, compiled by her and Simon Ward is in the National Art Archive at the V&A[13]. Her installation period culminated with The Stations of the Cross, a permanent installation at the Church of the Virgin near the university town of Poitiers in south west France.

Reviewing thirty years of art in Blue Bird and Other Stories at the LCC galleries in 2007, she realised she had always been drawing trees. In 2009 she changed direction focusing on painting trees resulting in exhibiting in 2013 in Under the Greenwood, Picturing the British Tree[14], at St Barbe Museum[15] in the New Forest. Tim Craven, curator at Southampton City Art Gallery invited well known British painters to establish a group named by Beale as The Arborealists[16], an ecological, conservationist art movement, which avoided historical concepts by renewing the contemporary language of painting that owed everything to observation. She has shown often at Flowers Galleries from 1978 to 2013.

Personal life

Currently Beale lives and works in France and the UK, with her second husband, the writer Christopher Plato. She has one son, the performer and lyricist PRofit and no pets.

Selected Exhibitions

2019 ‘Evolving the Forest’, Dartington Hall, Devon, UK 2019 'The Art Of Trees: The Arborealists', Musee de St Croix Loudun, France 2017 ‘The Art of the Tree’, Dortoir des Moines, Musee de St Benoit, Poitiers, France 2013 ‘Under the Greenwood, Picturing the British Tree’, St Barbe Art Gallery and Museum, Southampton Museum Service, Lymington 2007 ‘Blue Bird and Other Stories, 30 years of Conceptual Art Practice’ by Philippa Beale, collaborating with Jane Humphrey, Graham Diprose, Christopher Plato, The LCC Galleries, London 2002 ‘Art and the Spirit, The Stations of the Cross,’ Site Specific Installation, St Pancras Church, London 2000 ‘Real Bodies Virtual City’, Curator with James Swimson Outside Edge Artists Collective. First Group show, St. Peters Heritage Centre, London 1999 ‘From Wilson to Callaghan’, Video Viewing, Paper given at Conway Hall,Red Lion Square, London. 1998 ‘From Wilson to Callaghan’, Video and Paper given - Institute of Contemporary Art, London. 1998 ‘From Wilson to Callaghan’, Video, ICA, London 1995 The London Group The Curve, Barbican Arts Centre, Curator 1984 ‘Blue Bird’, Southampton City Art Gallery 1983 ‘Baby Love’, Blue Coat Gallery, Liverpool 1982 'Baby Love Rough and Smooth', Angela Flowers Gallery, London, reviewed by Waldemar Janucek for the Guardian 1981 'Women’s Images of Men’, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol 1980 'Women’s Images of Men' Institute of Contemporary Art, London 1981 ‘His Ears are Small and Neat’, ‘His Chest is Covered with Soft Brown Hair’, Akumulatory 2 Galleria, Poznan, Poland (One Person) 1978 ‘Newton's Wonder’, an installation of hundreds of pounds of apples raising environmental questions, Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh(One Person) 1978 ‘Collected from Here’, evidence of reclamation, of the Acme Gallery site, Acme Gallery, London (One Person) 1978 'Collected From There', Angela Flowers Galery, London (One person) 1976 'Sculpture and Sculpture Drawings', Annely Juda Fine Art, London 1975 '20th Century Artists' Annely Juda Fine Art, exhibition 6 with Rothko, Allen Green, Christo, Michael Kenny, Anastas Bradzdys 1972 'The Highgate Series', The Nostalgia Industry, Camden Arts Centre, London (First one person exhibition).


Beale’s work has been reviewed extensively online and in journals and newspapers. 2020 Being With Trees ISBN 978-0-9555510-3-1 2019 Philippa Beale writes about trees…by , Our Events, our Exhibitions Dartington Hall 2018 Drawn to London - Within the Shadow of the Tower (2018 Plato-Beale Productions ISBN 978-0-9555510-7-9.) 2017 Cultivation of Trees and Western Culture The Arborealists ISBN978-1-908326-86-7 2017 The Arborealists -The Art Of Trees 2017 (Plato Beale Productions (in French and English) ISBN 978-0-9555510-5-5); 2016 The Art of the Tree (Sansom & Co 2016 ISBN 978-1-908326-86-7), including the essay by Dr Angela Summerfield ‘Why do Artists Paint Trees?’ 2016 From Wilson to Callaghan, Conceptual Art Practice 1964 to1979 A Chronology recounting the history of artists network working in the UK during the 20th Century From The Chronology for Wilson to Callaghan published by Central Saint Martins,Authored with Simon Ford ISBN 978-0-9555519-2-4 Parameter error in {{ISBN}}: Invalid ISBN. 2013 Under the Greenwood, Picturing the British Tree (Sansom & Company ISBN 0000002054) 2013 The Arborealists, Under the Greenwood: Picturing the British Tree, 2013, Sansom & Company ISBN 0000002054 2015 The State of Art Site Specific and Installation Part 2 @ Barehill Publishing ISBN 978-1-909825-08-6 2013 Landscape and Portrait Barehill Publishing ISBN ISBN-10: 1909825085 1. ISBN-13: 978-1909825086 2012 Site Specific and Installation 1 Barehill Publishing ISBN 9781909825055 2007 Blue Bird and Other Stories ISBN 978-0-9555510-0-0 2003 Wilson to Callaghan - New Curatorial Strategies, @ Outside Edge eMagazine 2003 Inside Out, Forward to London Group 90 Years supporting the Visual Arts 1993 Graphic Agitations, McQuiston L., Phaidon page 18 ISBN 071428785 1980 Women’s Images of Men, ICA publication, article published ISBN 0905263073 2003 Strike – Review Art Monthly 261, November ISBN 01426702

2000 Public Launch Outside Edge Virtual Magazine, Brunswick House, London

              Outside Edge Virtual Magazine No 1 – Art on the Margins, editor published by Wellhung Art Company –
               Political Artist, Oxymoron or Tautology, Third Text 57 Winter, 200102002 ISBN 0-952-8822

1994 Women’s Images of Men, reprint from 1985, ed Kent S., Morreau J., essay, Images of Men Rozsika Parker (reprinted from Spare Rib No 99, October 1980) p. 54 Writers and Readers Publishing Co-operative Society Ltd,

                    London,  New York, ISBN 0-8631-0840 and 08631608-081Catalogue Women’s Images of Men, ICA  ISBN 0-90526 3073

1993 The Sexual Imagination from Acker to Zola, ed. Gilbert H., (p. 25) Jonathan Cape, Worldwide, ISBN0-224-03535-5 1993 Graphic Agitations, McQuiston L., Phaidon, ISBN 0-714B-2878-5 (p. 182)


  1. Troostwyk, David. {{cite web}}: External link in |website= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. Gregory, Richard. "Professor". {{cite web}}: External link in |website= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. "Camden Art Centre". {{cite web}}: External link in |website= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
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  8. DeMarco, Richard. {{cite web}}: External link in |website= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
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  14. Anderson, Anne (2013). Under the Greenwood, Picturing the British Tree. Sansom & Company. ISBN 9781908326300.
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