LIZ ARNOLD was one of the most original and inventive painters of her generation.
The Renaissance author Giorgio Vasari observed that artists often resemble their own work, a remark that seems especially true in Arnold's case. Her painting is bright, strange, funny, moving, childish, grown-up, generous and beautiful; quirky and original; full of humanity. Her death so young - aged 36, after a 10-month battle with cancer - is a cruel blow; but she achieved much in the short time she had. She touched the hearts and imaginations and lives of a great number of people, not only as a painter but also as a teacher, following her appointment as lecturer at the Slade School of Art, and, earlier in her career, as an art and community worker for adults with learning difficulties.
Arnold was born in Perth in 1964, but spent most of her youth in Reading and then Southend. Her late father was a customs and excise officer; her mother, now retired, was a local government officer in social services. Liz studied art first at Middlesex Polytechnic, where she took her BA in Painting, and then at Goldsmiths' College in London, where she completed an MA in 1994.
Her work at the time was unusually painterly and somewhat surreal, characterised by brooding landcapes in which intriguing mises-en-scenes are played out in various unlikely ways. A frilly dress, minus occupant, was the protagonist in several of the paintings she showed at her Middlesex degree show. She subsequently deployed a cast of cartoon-like animals, such as cats in designer T-shirts or mutant insects with unexpected accessories, to even more arresting effect.
Liz Arnold's work was quite unlike that of many other British artists of the period. It was not self-consciously cool, nor self-consciously ironic. It was not neat and tidy...