On Wednesday, 22 September a blue plaque was unveiled at 52 Downs Park East, Westbury Park, the childhood home of the artist, Mary Fedden, OBE. She lived there from her birth year, 1915 until 1920.
After attending Badminton School close by, Mary studied at the Slade School of Art and went on to paint theatre stage sets. But it is her flower paintings and still lifes which brought her fame. She enjoyed a long and highly productive life: her work is held in collections all over the world, including those of the Queen and the Tate.
Before the unveiling cord was pulled, Jacqui Thomas, Head of Art at Badminton School told us that the school has an original Mary Fedden painting in their reception. They have art competitions for students bearing her name and four Arts scholars joined us for the event. Alison Bevan, Director of the Royal West of England Academy spoke of Mary being the first woman president of the RWA, an institution founded by a female artist and the world’s first art school to have students of both genders on an equal footing. Art historian Jonathan Camp explained how Mary fitted into the pantheon of modernist artists, and how she bridged the worlds of modern art and more traditional styles. And I thanked Bristol Archives for their research to establish Mary Fedden’s residency days.
After the unveiling we enjoyed canapés and Prosecco in the garden, courtesy of the resident, Judith Drazin.