The Surrealism Website
Emmy Bridgwater (1906–1999)
Emmy Bridgwater was born in the upmarket Edgbaston district of Birmingham, the third daughter of a chartered accountant and Methodist. Showing an early interest in painting and drawing, she studied under Bernard Fleetwood-Walker at the Birmingham School of Art for three years from 1922 before further study at a local art school in Oxford paid for by working as a secretary.
Emmy Bridgwater had visited the London Surrealist exhibition in 1936, and felt inspired to paint in that style. She met there, Conroy Maddox, John Melville and Robert Melville - the key figures of the Birmingham Surrealists. Based at times in both Birmingham and London, she became a significant member of the Birmingham Surrealists and of the London-based British Surrealist Group, and was an important link between the surrealists of the two cities.
Her first major piece must be the 'Remote Cause of Infinite Strife' of 1940. Across a rolling landscape of interlocking hills a strange rope or thread comes from the far horizon and wraps around these, like a chain of causality. In the foreground we see it unravelling into its individual strands.
'Brave morning' from two years later shows a young woman opening the curtains and having to deal with a mass of things that crowd in upon her.
The fountain of 1945 shows a river meandering across a wide plain. In the foreground it opens out into a pool which then cascades over a crevasse as a waterfall. In the pool the head of a strange androgynous figure emerged and gazes at the viewer. From its back appear wings or some strange tail.
Sadly Emmy Bridgwater had to abandon her art in order to look after her aged infirm mother, and her output regrettably amounts to only a handful of works.