This text traces the career of British abstract painter Gillian Ayres, placing it within historical, contemporary and critical contexts. As a young artist in the 1950s, Ayres was involved with leading British abstract artists including Roger Hilton. She was quick to respond to both European tachism and American abstract expressionism, creating a body of work that placed her at the forefront of her generation. In London in the early 1960s she was the only woman artist represented in the important "Situation" exhibitions, showing large paintings combining oil and household paint that aimed for the natural sublime using the most radical drip and pour techniques of action painting. For many years from then on, Ayres' career was marked by diversities of style and manner. In the 1960s she created glamorously decorative images in keeping with the hedonisitic mood of the time, but by the early 1970s she had returned to an extreme and often austere painterly abstraction. Inspired by th painting of Hans Hofmann, Ayres returned to oil painting in the late 1970s and went on to develop a distinctively colourful and allusive style.