The lives of Colin and Jennifer Beales and their contributions to The Ken Stradling Collection

This introductory text is part of the display information that I wrote for ‘The Beales Bequest’ exhibition 

 Colin Beales 11 July 1931 – 22 August 2014

Jennifer Beales 23 July 1934 – 24 November 2014

A view of the exhibitionThis is an exhibition celebrating the lives of Colin and Jennifer Beales. It commemorates their shared interests and influences in art and design, particularly in association with The Ken Stradling Collection and The Bristol Guild of Applied Arts.

Colin worked as an architect and designer in Bristol from the 1950s, after studying at the RWA School of Architecture. He was initially an architect with the Bristol City Council but later joined the Dickinson Robinson Group and was the architect and interior designer for The Dickinson Robinson Building at 1 Redcliffe Street, Bristol (1963), the city’s first ‘skyscraper’. He had a vast knowledge of 20th century art and design, and was greatly influenced by Modernism. In retirement, Colin became an accomplished potter. Several of his pots were bought by Ken Stradling, director of The Bristol Guild, and are now part of The Ken Stradling Collection.

Jennifer was primarily interested in printing, etching and painting. She took printing classes at The Bristol School of Art, and drew with local artist Rachel Hemming Bray. She was largely more traditional in her tastes, being an admirer of the Impressionists, as well as of Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Italian painters such as Giorgio Morandi. 

Both Colin and Jennifer were great friends with Ken Stradling. Colin often drove around Bristol with Ken, and they travelled together to parts of Europe, to view or purchase furniture, ceramics and art. He in particular had a long association with The Bristol Guild and became one of the founding trustees of The Ken Stradling Collection. Jennifer also made significant contributions, such as formulating the title of the Collection’s catalogue, “The Incidental Collector”, which Colin helped to write and edit.

A view of the exhibitionIn their bequest, Colin and Jennifer left over 40 objects to The Ken Stradling Collection, which they had bought for, or with, each other. These include glasswork, sculpture, ceramics, books, prints and paintings. Some of Colin’s own pottery and Jennifer’s etchings and paintings are interspersed amongst the pieces on display.

Many stories surrounding these objects are unfortunately lost and will remain untold. Thus, this show does not attempt to be a definitive exhibition of Colin and Jennifer’s contributions to art and design in Bristol, or to present complete biographical surveys, but is an initial exploration into their great flare for artistic design, as well as the inspirations and legacies they instilled in other creative minds, groups and institutions, notably within Bristol and especially at The Ken Stradling Collection and The Bristol Guild.

The Beales Bequest will be open to view every Wednesday 10 – 4pm and by appointment  until 11th March.



2 thoughts on “The lives of Colin and Jennifer Beales and their contributions to The Ken Stradling Collection

  1. Hi Helen

    I like the posted you have put on the two blogs. Jennifer’s prints are good – why did she so often print in iron red I wonder? I certainly lightens the mood. The Vuillard Exhibition would be much more mechanical/documentary in black.

    Would it be an idea to add the exhibition dates to both post? Did Julia talk to you about extending the exhibition – at the Trustees meeting on Tuesday it was proposed that it went on to 11 March.




    • Hi Ollie,

      Thanks for your message. I agree, the red is certainly striking and consistent in her prints. Interesting question, I’m now curious to see if any themes emerge from comparing the red and the black prints.

      Good plan to add the exhibition dates to the two posts – I’ll do that now. No, I haven’t heard about the possibility of extending the exhibition yet, that sounds good.

      Best wishes,



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