"I first came to know Stanley Simmonds as a teacher, when he returned from the navy after the war to take over the art room at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School. He made it a place where not only art was produced but where art conversations could go on. He was enormously helpful and valuable to me, as I am sure he was to many others, because his commentary on your work was not a question of marks and assessment but an adult exchange about what you had actually done.
Later, when I was a student, I used to go, with John Yeoman, a friend who had also been at Chislehurst and Sidcup, to see Stan and Cynthia in the handsome rooms of their flat in Earl’s Court. It was there that we really discovered Stan as a painter; to begin with in particular as a painter of Billingsgate market. (What we did not ever discover was that Cynthia had her own distinctive and accomplished Billingsgate pictures). The Billingsgate paintings were evidently the fruit of many studies made on site; but it wasn’t, you felt, the detail of everyday life that took the artist’s attention as much as, together with substantial reality, the architecture of forms supplied by the porters and their surroundings.
Those pictures were soon followed by a remarkable development into abstraction. What was formerly substance becomes atmosphere. It is a world of movement, distance, luminosity, but one which the architecture of the canvas is still disposed with authority.
Eventually, Stan and Cynthia moved to Cornwall to become neighbours of their old friend the poet Charles Causley. I lost sight of what developments took place in Stan’s studio, where he was an indefatigable painter to the end of his life. So for me this exhibition is full of rewarding and sometimes quite unexpected works. It’s an eloquent tribute to an exemplary life in art. "