In Focus: Hatt Heads to Clevedon Salerooms

One of the joys of my job is the adrenaline rush I always get when I find a work by one of my favourite artists. So, I’m currently feeling doubly energised that Clevedon Salerooms Fine Art sale on December 7th will feature not one but two works by a Somerset artist whose work has long held a magnetic attraction for me.

Doris Hatt (1890-1969) was an artist of singular vision who shunned the conventions of her time to live a life as vibrant and compelling as the canvases she painted. Born to a well-to-do Bath family at the end of Queen Victoria’s long reign, an early passion for art saw her take a place at Bath School of Art and eventually the Royal Academy. She also travelled to Paris, where she rubbed shoulders with artists such as Picasso and became influenced by the Cubist art movement. 


Doris went on to become a pioneer of British modernism, a feminist and lifelong socialist. To add to her talents, she was also an accomplished architect, designing in 1935 a house in sleek Bauhaus inspired modernism in Clevedon’s Swiss Valley, which for the following thirty years she shared with her life partner, Margery. Clad in the colourful textiles that Margery made, Doris cut a distinctive figure around Clevedon, whether it was selling copies of the Socialist Worker in local pubs (which sold well – largely due to the reliability of its horseracing tips), or with her easel, capturing scenes around the town in her highly individual style. She was described in her lifetime ‘an artist of distinction’ who pursued her own path ‘with delicate modesty and with an artist’s curiosity and conscience’. She never allowed success to go to her head and remained true to her Communist beliefs, often selling her paintings in local cafes for a few pounds or even give them away. Perhaps predictably for a woman who refused to conform to society’s norms, obscurity beckoned. The last few years have, however, seen a surge of interest in Doris’s life and work and recognition at last of the groundbreaking and highly talented artist that she undoubtedly was.