Published: 19 February 2010
by PETER GRUNER
THE woman who has been at the forefront of a campaign for Islington’s yet-to-open newest theatre is presenting an exhibition of her prints and paintings based on her enduring love of trees and wildlife.
Avis Saltsman’s colourful “Hugging Trees” exhibition was opened yesterday (Thursday) by Lord Smith of Finsbury, head of the Environment Agency, at Islington Museum, where it will run for a month.
Avis, married to accomplished amateur composer Ken Baldry, is well known for her 20-year battle to re-open the famous Collins Theatre in Islington Green. A new 600-seat underground theatre has been built as part of a £28million development, but it is still a shell and there are no immediate plans to open it due to “technical “difficulties.
Grandmother and former teacher Avis is exhibiting 41 striking paintings and prints, including local views of the Regent’s Canal and some of the magnificent trees she has loved. Prices of her work range from £50 to £3,000.
“I don’t hug trees myself,” she said, “but I do love them for their beauty and they have inspired me ovethe years. In Islington, where we have very little open space, trees have to be protected. I’ve also drawn specimens at Kew Gardens and Osterley Park in West London.”
Avis is an indefatigable campaigner for the arts. Back in the 1970s she was part of a group who set up a national union of artists. They held regular meetings and produced monthly newsletters, dealing with copyright and how other countries treated their artists.
Eventually the Artists’ Union had six regional branches before disbanding in the early 1980s. Avis, who was the union’s librarian, kept all the papers and donated them to the new archive for British art at Tate Britain.
Her artwork spans forty years and draws inspiration from the natural world. She creates major pieces based on trees and their textures, producing a series of prints, batiks and collages.
• Hugging Trees by Avis Saltsman is at Islington Museum, 245 St John Street, EC1 from February 20- March 20