Paintings that nearly drove me up the wall, by Ted Hughes’ daughter

Ted Hughes.
Ted Hughes.

AN unusual collection of 400 paintings created in as many days by the poet and artist Frieda Hughes went on display yesterday at Chichester Cathedral.

Ms Hughes is the daughter of the Mytholmroyd poet Ted Hughes and the influential American writer, Sylvia Plath.

For the new work, she combined her collection of paintings, produced in the 400 days from November 28, 2015, into a single artwork. Each 10x14 inch canvas is displayed in a grid 16 high by 25 across, in the cathedral’s North Transept.

Ms Hughes said she had shut herself in her studio until the early hours until each day’s painting had been completed. After 13 months, “other work was being neglected, friendships were being tested, and sleep deprivation was beginning to take its toll”.

She said: “I knew that if I put my mind to it, I could do it. Once I had started, I knew I had to keep going. The more I did, the more effort would have been wasted if I had stopped.”

The project, which she described as an “abstract visual diary” of “what it looks like when one person describes their actual experiences in space and colour over a finite period of time”, includes images as diverse as the death of a hand-reared eagle owl and a low speed crash on a sports motorbike.

The exhibition also includes pictures from her poetry collec­tion, Alternative Values, in which she addresses her childhood experiences as the daughter of two well-known writers.

Her father, born in Mytholm­royd, near Halifax, married Miss Plath in 1956, but they separated in 1962, a few months before her suicide at age 30. Their daughter was not quite three at the time.

Ms Hughes’ younger brother, the biologist Nicholas Hughes, also committed suicide, aged 47.

Mr Hughes went on to succeed John Betjeman as poet laureate. He died in 1998, aged 68.

His daughter, now 57, moved to Australia and became a noted landscape artist. She now lives on the Welsh borders and has written a series of children’s books and published four other collections of poetry.