During her time in London, Marie became absorbed in and influenced by the contemporary art scene and began working from a studio in Tite Street, producing abstract expressionist work of considerable boldness and energy -they became part of a series of works derived from her fascination with the universe, prompted by advances in space exploration in the late 1950s and 1960s.
In 1959 she was offered her first solo exhibition at the University Gallery in Newcastle – an offshoot of the New Vision Gallery in London – that had established itself as a centre for contemporary abstract art.
Marie was subsequently offered work at the New Vision Gallery in London as an assistant to the founder of the gallery and artist, Denis Bowen. This was a significant career move for her as it led to another solo exhibition in 1960 at the Gallery and to important contacts in the London and European contemporary art scene. She joined the Women’s International Art Club and exhibited in Britain and overseas with them. She also became a member of the Free Painters Group and the Artists International Association, exhibiting her work with them on a regular basis.
In 1961, Marie married Tom Last, a Yorkshire solicitor, and moved back to Yorkshire to live at Ilkley, later acquiring a studio at Menston. Landscape in general, and the Yorkshire landscape in particular, now became a strong focus of her work.
She met Arthur Kitching artist and the curator of the Manor House Gallery, Ilkley, who encouraged her painting and in 1964 offered her the chance of her first solo exhibition.
The art critic, John Sheeran, wrote:
Marie Walker Last’s place within the context of twentieth century British art is difficult to establish; for as her work has developed, it has touched on or experimented with widely differing artistic movements and styles. Emotional sensations aroused by direct personal experience of landscape and the translation of such feelings into lyrical orchestration of paint, lie at the heart of her art. In this respect, she belongs firmly to the English romantic landscape tradition which stretches from Constable and Turner to Nash, Sutherland and Hitchens.
With thanks to Colin Neville http://www.notjusthockney.info/