Betsy & Blapsy - Life and Times, at The Strand Gallery

An Exhibition by Hetty Baynes-Russell

14th-24th November 2012

In Betsy and Blapsy - Life and Times, her 2012 exhibition at the Strand Gallery in Covent Garden, the actress Hetty Baynes-Russell revealed a new side to her creativity. Thirty-five paintings taking you through four decades of Hetty’s life on stage, in film, radio and television, in a humorous yet personal, autobiographical exhibition.

Throughout her childhood Hetty used the visual arts as an outlet for her emotional responses to growing up in the media spotlight. “I have always had a sketchbook with me, I’ve been painting and drawing since I was a child,” Hetty explains. She devised imaginary sides to her personality to measure her emotional well being. The two figures in the show’s title, ‘Betsy’ and ‘Blapsy’, were the characters Hetty identified herself with. They were her right side and her left side: Betsy (right) the extrovert: showy, sometimes taken to extremes, transforming into Blousey/Bluesey; and then Blapsy (left) the introvert - spirtual, intuitive and contemplative, reshaping herself into Blobby when troubled and depressed. Hetty continued to paint using these characters during both the brightest periods of life – career success, her love affair with Ken Russell, her sense of humour - and the most challenging periods of her adulthood too, including anorexia, experiencing negative press and bereavement.

After studying at Central St Martins and using computer-aided techniques, Hetty developed her pictorial language to express the many different, often contradictory forces that shape an artist’s life: “the voices that speak to us, the emotions and inspirations that pull us one way, then another” She said. Her art is intensely personal, each image telling its own story while still forming part of a narrative whole.

"I’ve been painting and drawing since I was a child. It feels as though I've lived four or five dífferent lives so far, and I have always had a sketchbook with me, exploring my self through drawing these shapes and figures, giving them colour and space. Doing so helps me express my life and the various turns it has taken: people and experiences, both internal and external, that have shaped it so far."

Hetty Baynes-Russell - 2012

Notes to Editors:

  • 1. Dedication and Charity Fundraising: The exhibition was dedicated to the artist and designer Suzy Falkner, Hetty Baynes-Russell’s late sister. Part of the proceeds of the sale of the paintings were given to charity. 2. Interviews: Hetty Baynes-Russell is available for interviews.

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