Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Book - New history book on talented artist Marjorie Bates

MARJORIE Bates always knew her destiny lay in art.

She was only six years old when she impressively sketched a windmill while sitting on a wall near her pleasant village home of Kings Newton in Derbyshire.
And the fact that she was a distant relative of Dame Laura Knight suggests such talent was in her genes.

The daughter of George Bates, a wealthy manufacturer of mosquito netting from New Basford, she lived in the family home The Grange at Wilford and that made it possible for her to enrol at the Nottingham School of Art in Waverley Street, a time she would look back on with great happiness.

She quickly displayed an award-winning talent that prompted her parents to send her to Paris to study under Professor Jean Paul Laurens at the National High School for Fine Arts.

Marjorie prospered and in 1912 a pastel of a French kitchen earned another gold medal, displays at the Salon des Artistes and the Royal Academy in London.

From Paris, Marjorie embarked on a journey down Africa, with a commission from the Sultan of Zanzibar helping to pay her way.

But war came in 1914 to interrupt Majorie's travels. She joined the British Red Cross and was posted to Malta where she treated the wounded from the Gallipoli campaign, opening her eyes to suffering on an unimaginable scale.

Marjorie suffered personal tragedy when her unnamed fiance was killed in action.

She never found another man to take his place, although she did raise her sister's children following her marriage break-up.

After the war, she returned to Nottingham and the world of art. She was a member of the Royal Society and Nottingham Society of Artists, based in a studio in the Lace Market where she produced a prodigious quantity of paintings and drawing, which later appeared as postcards and in book and magazine illustrations.

Her paintings are mainly in watercolour or in pastel with subjects including garden scenes, landscapes, architecture, street scenes, figure studies and portraits.

Between the wars, her work was used extensively by the British Art Company to illustrate books.
Then, in 1953, she was approached to produce a series of "period" drawings to be turned into postcards, to mark the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. An original of Barrogill Castle in Scotland was accepted by the Queen Mother.

Marjorie C Bates, as she always signed her paintings, was interviewed by the Weekly Guardian in 1954, the reporter commenting: "Quietly, busy, happy in her occupation and modestly proud of her success, she is a truly delightful person to meet."

Last year, a Marjorie Bates painting that depicts child poverty in local workhouses in the early 1900s was rediscovered by Notts County Council. The painting measures 47ins by 39ins and shows a workhouse nursery, possibly at Southwell.

It was discovered in the council's facility in County Hall by officer Graham Jarvis, who is interested in local art.

He said: "As soon as I saw Marjorie's picture, I understood how important it was to this county, especially if we could attribute it to Southwell Workhouse.

"The painting is in excellent condition and probably the best Marjorie Bates painting I have ever seen."
A number of the artist's illustrations are on display in County Hall.

Majorie Bates died in 1962 at the age of 76, her ashes being buried in the family plot in Wilford Churchyard.
Marjorie C Bates, by Ztan Zmith and Brian Walker, is available from Stan Smith, 44 Church Tree Close, Brinsley Notts NG16 5BA; email stand@powercomp.co.uk or call 01773 783009. It costs £2.50.

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