Pearl Alcock – Coming Home | 15 Jun – 14 Aug

Coming Home

A retrospective of the work of Pearl Alcock
15 June – 14 August

Thirty-five years after her iconic solo show ‘Mood Paintings’ at 198 Gallery in 1989, Pearl Alcock is back with a new exhibition on Railton Road, not far from where she used to live and run her café and shebeen. Coming Home celebrates the life of Pearl Alcock and explores her legacy in the current age of social justice, racial equality and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. To this end, and to honour the Brixton local hero that she was, part of the gallery space will be transformed into a café.


This exhibition is a rare chance to experience Alcock’s work, with 46 art works ranging from abstract paintings, landscapes, figurative drawings and sketches. Full of patterns and movement, this colourful body of work is reminiscent of a life in a different world, perhaps a lost paradise.  Ultimately, Coming Home depicts Alcock’s creative journey of reinventing herself and invites the viewer into her vibrant and intimate subjective realm.


Alcock became an artist by accident at the age of 50. Unable to afford a birthday card for a friend, she made one instead, using magic markers. This was the beginning of her creative journey. She started painting and drawing at night by candlelight and produced over 300 art works; some of which were acquired by collectors Monika Kinley and Victor Musgrave to form part of the Outsider art collection – now gifted to The Whitworth’s permanent collection. She gained mainstream recognition in 2005, a year before her death, when she was shown at Tate Britain in their ‘Outsider Art’ exhibition.


Alcock arrived in the UK from Jamaica in 1958 as part of the Windrush generation. She moved to Brixton and opened a bridal shop on Railton Road. The basement soon became a ‘shebeen’- an unlicensed bar- which became a safe space for the black gay community.

With many thanks to The Musgrave Kinley Collection of Outsider Art at The Whitworth, The University of Manchester.