Saturday, 23 October 2010

Mary Fairclough in the studio

Tara Heinemann has sent me some photos of more proofs and prints by Mary Fairclough. I'm starting off with the best linocut by her I've come across, this powerful portrait of a gypsy woman. I've seen this for sale before so I'm certain it's a finished print and looks like another of her portraits based on a photograph. (Please bear in mind that many of the ones below are working proofs as Tara used to own a studio folder).

Just to show she doesn't always go for high drama, we see her in gentle mood, with this subtle study of alder trees. Although I was about to say I thought she was strongest on portraits, I love the heavy horses below. A tremendous sense of them moving forwards as they graze into the wind.

I particularly like the massed shrubs in the foreground here. Try and think of how many British colour printers at the time attempted both portrait and landscape - not many. Not entirely successful of course. The farm buildings are ungainly and the trees look obviously overprinted.

Finally her portrait of Captain Digby. This is definitely a proof. The whole image is larger and unfinished. It was a working proof for book illustration. Fairclough did in fact go on to write and illustrate books for children after the war.
Many thanks to Tara who will be standing at Antiques for Everyone at the NEC Birmingham, 28th - 31st October, 2010. That's next weekend. Be there, or be square.


  1. The trio of horses is astonishing, and beautifully rendered. It is almost Grosvenor School-esque, it is wonderfully stylistic and beautifully simple.

  2. Yes, she was trying all kinds of things. Some worked less well but the horses stand out.

  3. Is this Mary Fairclough the same as the author-illustrator of Miskoo the Lucky, printed in Great Britain around 1948?

    1. Yes, it is. She began by illustrating books in the 1930s and then wrote and illustrated books like the Miskoo ones herself after the war.