Pamela is a long standing member of SEAW. She used to own and run the quirky ‘Conservatory Art Gallery’ off Hills Road. She has an entry – ‘Waiting For Riders’ in ‘The Cambridge Art Book’ edited by Emma Bennett.

Waiting For Riders by Pamela Marshall Barrell


Other art societies you belong to

Cambridge Drawing Society

When did you start painting?

I constantly drew clothing and fashions when I was a little girl, but it wasn’t until I had had four children and retired from the art gallery I had owned for 23 years, that I decided to paint properly.  Consequently, after completion of various courses with the Open College of Art, I began working in pastels before switching to watercolours a few years later.

What subject matter do you like to paint?

I like to paint buildings surrounded by greenery, shelves of books, and some close ups of quirky subjects such as leaves or runner beans.

Gonville & Caius from Senate House Passage by Pamela Marshall Barrell

Can you tell us more about your art gallery?

I first started Business Arts in 1984, as a scheme whereby companies opening up new office buildings in Cambridge could rent, rent to buy, or simply buy paintings for their offices and board rooms. I would visit the offices, decide what would be suitable for them, and return with a selection of appropriate paintings for them to make the final choice.  It was ‘local art for local companies’. I always stuck to displaying artists from around East Anglia, but the business grew to having clients further afield as visitors to the offices saw the paintings and wanted some for their own companies. The Conservatory Gallery grew ‘by accident’ in addition to the company rental business as clients sometimes wished to come and visit when I would set up a display for them in an area leading off our conservatory, and somehow unofficially began calling it ‘the Conservatory Gallery’ which I then  began to use myself, and which did in fact grew into an official gallery with regular exhibitions and newsletter, and also with sculpture which then took over the garden!

What is your current project?

At the moment (or rather before lockdown) I am travelling around visiting places in England where the 19th century novelist Anthony Trollope lived, worked or wrote about, in preparation for a book that I am writing about him which will also include painted illustrations by myself.

Where do you paint?

My paintings are done outside or in our home. My studio is really more of a workshop and so I usually end up painting on the kitchen table.

Pamela Barrell painted by friend and fellow SEAW member Fran Godwin

Which artists inspire you and why?:

My tastes are very broad – my favourite artist has to be David Hockney for his raw splashes of colour, but conversely I also like Gwen John for her soft colours and Paul Nash for his ability to pare things down to their bare essentials.

What galleries do you like to visit?:

All galleries are interesting of course, but my all-time favourite is Salts Mill just outside my home town of Leeds, West Yorkshire, followed by the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The former is simply enormous set in a ‘model’ village (interesting in itself) with four floors each the size of a football pitch, and smaller rooms leading off. Every floor is full of David Hockney paintings, some doubling up as greeting cards to the owner just before he died, such as a 12ft canvas with ‘Get well Jonathon’ scrawled across the painting. The smaller rooms contain his fax drawings, or vibrant ipad paintings which are always of bowls of flowers on his bedroom windowsill with the sunrise behind at about 3 am, done whilst still in bed and emailed to his friends so they too can wake up to a sunny/colourful day. The Sculpture Park is several acres of sculpture in natural settings, ranging from Henry Moor and Barbara Hepworth, Ai Wei Wei, or ultra-modern American artists. The addition of three indoor galleries with perhaps Grayson Perry or Sir Normal Ackroyd RA, and several cafes make this park a great day out.

What is your favourite colour to paint with?

I use Sennelier watercolour paints and my favourite colours are all shades of blue or pink/purple combinations.