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Rosamund Gilbert 51-53

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Pam Pebworth has now joined Ros Gilbert as one of the earliest contributors to the site and sent in a vast amount of information and photographs (an album full) from her Corsham years in the early 50's. Nearly all of the photos were taken with a Kodak Ensign camera so some of the prints tend to be more than slightly blurred, but they do retain a fascinating snapshot in time, of people and places around Corsham..

Corsham Remembered 1951-54
"Having spent my childhood in a wartime Manchester suburb amidst the air raids, blackout and rationing arriving in Corsham was like falling into paradise!

The grandeur of The Court, the beauty of its setting complete with peacocks was breathtaking. The interview in the Chinese room around a vast mahogany table and presenting my work to Clifford Ellis, a self portrait and cross section of a cabbage - was a daunting experience. The last question asked as I was leaving "Can you ride a bicycle?" Upon reflection I think the question should have been "Are you a trick cyclist?" Negotiating a bike carrying canvas, boards, boxes of paints and brushes, plus any musical instrument one might play was no mean feat. During teaching practice the paraphernalia became even more incredible.

The morning journey started well down the drive of Monks Park into the road  and on to Pound Pill hurtling down into the dip and freewheeling as far as possible up the other side before peddling again. Then on to Beechfield and Peter Pot's wonderful studio, the interior filled with Still Life groups, exciting arrangements of shapes and colours which invited one to start them. Or to work in the pottery in the old stables where James Tower would be sitting at the wheel, leaning sideways to squint with his one eye at the spinning clay turning into a pot. Or the days in the education block, where children from the local school joined us, Geoffrey Spencer's room with glass cases full of curious creatures such as axolotls. Rosemary's voice heard from the next room heralded her approach laughing, commanding and questioning, the constant query being "How are you to apply this to your teaching?" By contrast Clifford's voice was always quiet and measured in reasoning tones. However, it was the surprise days which made real excitement: the Academy van up to London to see exhibitions, the Diaghilev with its marvellous stage designs for the ballet by Picasso and Leon Bakst, the Mexican Exhibition at the Tate, showed us a whole new world of vast murals and sculpture made a very deep impression. Another visit remembered was Oxford and the Pitt Rivers Museum with its collection of African art and fearsome wood masks.

Some days we spent at Monks Park, the barn full of bubbling dye vats into which we recklessly threw our garments. Helen Binyon with her quiet manner leading us into the enchanting world of shadow puppetry. Litz Pisk taking us out on the lawn in the summer for movement lessons which caused some minor hysteria amongst us! Her own demonstrations were fascinating. In her black sweater and circular skirt she could transform herself with her movements into many characters and during the rest periods she smoked her Gauloises.

The Corsham experience was so rich, the well known painters and sculptors from London and St.Ives who came to teach us were William Scott, Bryan Wynter, Peter Lanyon, Ken Armitage and Bernard Meadows. And not to be forgotten, Andrew Wilson tall and austere encouraging us to improve our handwriting in the Marion Richardson style. And then there was the fun, end of terms parties with various themes, Waistcoats, Dogs and Mexico.

The winter ('54) when the lake at The Court froze over and we all joined in sliding  and skating. A shortage of skating boots meant we crammed our feet into whatever we could borrow and we tottered out slipping and sliding on the ice, it lasted several days and work came to a standstill.

What luck to have been part of the Corsham experience, Clifford and Rosemary Ellis deserve to be remembered and acclaimed. Three wonderful years which transformed us and their deep influence has continued throughout our lives."

Pam Pebworths' Photo Album - click here for the link

I have included all 88 photos from the album so as not to be 'editing'
any part unknowingly. After all... it may be the only complete
account from '51-54 that we will ever see on the site!

Some Additional Notes

The teacher training course was a 2 year course then. The 3rd year was offered to 20 students who it was thought would benefit from the opportunity to study their specialist subject for another year. At the end we were awarded a supplementary Diploma in Art & Craft with Music & Drama. I don't remember exactly when the teacher training course was increased to a three year course for all, but I have an idea it was during the sixties.
Another point of interest was that some students came for one year having trained elsewhere, e.g. Tom Tadman '52-53 trained as a painter at The Slade and came for a one year teacher training.
Julia Lane '53-54 trained as a teacher at Homerton College and came for her specialist art year at Corsham.

Pam's Biography

I taught Art & Craft in secondary schools in the Bath area for twenty years. In 1974 I retrained at West Dean College, Chichester in Antique Furniture Restoration after which I moved home and workshop to Devon where I still live. In retirement I've taken up wood engraving which has proved to be interesting and rewarding and has brought me into a group of artists whose work as illustrators I much admire.
My friendship with Mary Wall (nee Waters '53-54) has continued through all the years, she lives in London with her husband, a retired Doctor.
John Eaves ('50-53) and Ian Black ('51-54) and myself are all members of The Royal West of England Academy of Bristol.
Beth Millier (nee Stoddart '51-53), she and her husband retired to live in Tiverton, she joined the Art Society and she takes painting groups which are very popular with members.
Janet Harrison and Rosamund Osbourn (nee Gilbert) and I have met up again recently, which has been a most delightful renewal of our Corsham friendship.

...and from about the same time, Roy Ainsworth ('52-55) has provided us with these next three photos.

Monks Park, 1954 : L to R
Elizabeth McEwan, Brenda Nash, Margaret Bruce, Roselle Stephens.

Hut in Monks Park, 1954
Margaret Bruce, Brenda Nash, Roselle Stephens, Elizabeth McEwan.

Roy Ainsworth (Note bicycle clips!).

"I recently renewed contact with my old room-mate, Hugh Child, at Beechfield. I had last seen him 1967-70 when we both landed posts in the N.Cheshire region. Then our ways parted and finally my wife Brenda and our son, Nick, and I came to live and work in Southern France in 1979. Three residences later, and after Brenda died, Nick and I found Hugh Child's address in the BT Internet directory and as a result he and his wife came to visit. They liked the area so much that they bought a holiday home in the same 'commune'. So, Nick and I see them quite regularly and, believe me, we shall never exhaust the vast number of Corsham memories as topics of conversation! We're feeling fifty years younger as a result!! Well - almost!"

Jenny Williams (Allen) was a student at BAA from 1952 - 1955.

"I still have the envelope and letter with the day and time of my interview. I lived in Bristol and reached Corsham via a bus to Bath, and a second bus to Corsham Court. In the morning I sat for the Biology practical exam (Advanced level) and there was no time to change from my school uniform. I was one of three girls waiting in the library. One girl dressed in jeans was opening books! She said she was from Bedales. Another girl said her uncle ran an art school in Cornwall and she said, he said, 'she was very good'!
My nervousness disappeared when Clifford Ellis said he liked my painting of a cabbage and turned the painting upside down and said no one had ever painted a complete reflection before. I had placed the half a cabbage on a polished antique table. It was the second cabbage bought by mother as I didn't like the inside shapes of the first one she cut open! Clifford Ellis asked me which galleries I had visited and as I had a wonderful experience in Paris with my penfriendís parents owning a Bonnard loaned for a retrospective exhibition in the Petit Palais, I felt very relaxed in this conversation. Clifford Ellis also liked my sketch book with interesting drawings of a tailorís workshop. I mentioned I was involved with costumes and props for a production of Oedipus. He asked me whose translation and I've never forgotten it - Professor Kitto.
We were invited into the dining room for afternoon tea and sitting opposite me were Howard Hodgkin and Geoff Nuttall. I was asked if I was coming to BAA and I said I thought so, and was trying to hide my school tie with my coat collar. One of them said, "A virgin at last!"

Oil painting of stables/studios
Corsham Court
when snow brought down the top of the fir tree.... artist Jennifer Williams 1955

Profile of Jennifer Williams 1954 Appliques and Textiles
One woman show, Skinner Gallery, Perth Western Australia 1960.
from front: Margaret, Meryl, Valerie, Don, Iola, Alison, ?. 1954
Exhibited in Young Contemporaries 1955 RBA gallery
Sold painting to LEA and via ex BAA art teacher
saw it in Pultney Secondary School.

four photos have larger versions


1952 - 1955 BAA Certificate in Education and Supplementary Award in Visual Art, Music and Drama. awarded to 15 students offered specialist third year. 
1955 Exhibited in the Young Contemporaries Exhibition, RBA Galleries
1955 Applique panel of Beechfield House exhibited Rome and Paris
1955 - 1957 Art/Needlework teacher St Bernard's Convent, Slough.
1956 married Leon Pritchard, one year, third year student, BAA
Emigrated to Australia, July 1957. Was unable to apply for teaching position in state schools as married teachers were 'on supply' and art positions were few. By chance found myself interviewed for a commercial art department vacancy.
Oct 1957 - January 1958 Art Department, Boans Store, Perth Western Australia
Designed play equipment for new store. Designed the Xmas display for the store.
Postcard for Rottnest Island. Marquee dťcor for store owner's daughter's wedding.
Designed the Chain of Office for the Mayor of Subiaco. Worked on window displays. 
1958 - 1960 Art teacher St Mary's C of E girls school.
1960 One women show Skinner Galleries, Perth, Appliques and Textiles
1960 Runner up in the State wide Fremantle Drawing competition
1961 Applied for an art position in the Curriculum Art Education Department in Sydney NSW. Decided to leave Leon. Divorced 1962. Superintendent had visited Corsham while attending a UNESCO conference in Bristol. Commented "even if you were the worse student you would be better trained than any student in Australia".
Was asked to teach the lessons designed by the Superintendent in order to have an illustration for the new art teacher's handbook.
1962 returned to WA to marry the WA artist Geoffrey Allen (deceased), Art master at Scotch College. Birth of two children, Juliet (deceased 2002) and Laurence. (no contact)
1965 One woman show, Argus Gallery, Melbourne. Appliques and Textiles.
1965 Taught oil painting classes for Adult Education, silk screening classes for Mums and holiday art activities for CATS (Childrens' Time Society)
1966 - 1967 Due to husbandís illness, return to teaching at the Kindergarten Teacherís College and Graylands Teacher's College. Children attend Montesorri School.
December 1967 Opened 'Allen Objects', jewellery and craft shop, Subiaco. Geoffrey Allen now self taught lost wax casting and jewellery production.
May 1968 Filed for divorce. Geoffrey Allen in scandal over forging historic coins from the Gilt Dragon. Intrigue still going on!
January 1969 Taught oil painting, Adult Education Summer School at University Campus.
February 1969 - December 1971 Taught drawing, oil painting, jewellery, at Claremont Art School. (Came to UK Xmas, 1969, visited BAA and saw the Ellis's)
1972 - 1986 Lecturer in Art Education, Mt Lawley Teachers' College, later WACAE and finally university status, Edith Cowan University.
1975- 1977 Part time study for WA Art Teacherís Associate-ship. WAIT. Was compulsory, by the college, even a graduate from Leeds Art School had to take it. Authorities thought I was only 2 year trained and Corsham's Supplementary was a 'supp' indicating I had failed and had to re do! I received enough back pay to buy a colour TV and a new fridge, very acceptable at the time.
1977 - 1981 Part time study for BEd. WAIT (Western Australian Institute of Technology, later Curtin University) Majored in Anthropology. 
1981 - 1985 Part time study for MEd. Curtin University. Curriculum materials in the Arts for Gifted Children.
Published in Gifted Education (USA), Art and Design (UK). Craft Australia (Textile mural for blind children, exhibited INSEA, Adelaide)
1986 enrolled as Phd candidate at University of WA. Children's spatial skills. Resigned from Edith Cowan University. 
1986 - 1989 Taught part- time Education Departmentís Gifted children's programme
1990 Legally adopted my grandson, due to my daughter's terminal illness. Unable to continue with academic studies. Sold home, which had won Home of the Year for Historic Restoration. Terminated my interest as Curator of the Old Gaol Museum, Toodyay and moved to Esperance on the south east coast of WA. Invested in motel.
1991 - 2006 Owner of The Old Hospital Motel, Esperance. SOLD UP! Millionaire!
2007 Now live in the UK with my grandson, aged 25, student at Bath University. Live at Port Marine, Portishead, Somerset. Art, Music, Writers Group U Third Age, Sport fills my days.

I would like to hear from my contemporaries.
Jenny (Jennifer) - April 2008

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1950 Provisional Prospectus - was this the first?

June Maidment 59-61