Designer, Teacher, Painter
My Life in Tickets
Our September holiday in Sussex, which included my sister’s funeral was certainly a roller coaster ride as far as emotions were concerned. Visiting an art exhibition in Eastbourne combined all the highs and lows. For me, this exhibition which was about an artist called Peggy Angus was a fantastic, enjoyable and informative occasion. But one thing was wrong. I had planned to go with my sister who would also have found it a fantastic occasion.
You see, we knew Peggy Angus from childhood days.
So let’s begin with the ticket, which, of course has been saved and added to the collection.
The exhibition was at Eastbourne’s Towner Gallery and it took us through Peggy’s rather Bohemian life which actually began in a prosperous family based in South America and involved with railway construction – or at least, the funding of it. Peggy had the sort of struggle that many women had to be truly recognised although her design work could be seen in many public buildings. She became recognised as a tile designer and, as an example, Peggy Angus tiles were used in the new Gatwick Airport when it opened back in the 1950s.
But to support herself Peggy needed a steady income and so had a job as a teacher where, by all accounts she was truly inspirational.
Her get away from the hurly burly life in North London was a remote cottage nestled in the South Downs. It was devoid of much in the way of modern conveniences like water, electricity and flush toilets, but Peggy first rented it in the 1930s and it stayed as one of the places where she lived into the 1980s. The cottage was at Furlongs Farm and regular readers may realise that this was where I spent childhood holidays. So Peggy Angus and her friends were our neighbours each summer. That’s how we got to know her.
Now as a child I had no idea that she was a highly regarded artist. We called her by her married name of Mrs Richards (Mr Richards was never in evidence – not surprising as I now know for the marriage had ended long before). She was a kindly, motherly figure as far as I was concerned – cheerful and contented with what seemed to me like a primitive life style – not so different from ours whilst we camped nearby. I had no idea how she made a living. I was a kid and like youngster do, I just accepted her as I saw her and didn’t have any concept of her wider world.
Photos weren’t allowed at the art gallery, except of their wall writing explanations so here’s the one about Peggy and Furlongs.
I bought James Russell’s lovely book about her at the Towner.
In many ways it paints a very different Peggy from the one I knew. I knew nothing of her friendship with North London gypsies when she was a child. I knew nothing of world travels. I knew nothing of great works. Perhaps I should just say,’ I knew nothing!’
This was the happy, friendly lady I knew.
She’s sitting alongside Dick Freeman the farmer and they seem to be enjoying a good joke.