Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Joy of Discovery

 Discovering a new piece of music, a new author, a new artist - anything previously unknown to us - can bring us a bit of joy.

I have found, during my many years on this earth, that being curious is often a path paved with joy.

My most recent discovery along the path of curiosity (also often referred to as "disappearing down a rabbit hole") is English artist Dame Laura Knight and her friend Lilo Smith.

This painting popped into my Facebook newsfeed and spoke to me immediately.

Isn't she wonderful?!  

I have fallen in love with her.  

She seems to possess both wisdom and mischief, and a gracious plenty of both.  She's a woman I think I would have enjoyed knowing.  A woman who had experiences I would have enjoyed hearing about and learning from.

Wanting to know more about this woman sent me, of course, down a rabbit hole.

 I found that her name was Lilo Smith ( née Loveridge), affectionately known by family and friends as Granny Smith.

This beautiful poster of an original Oil on Canvas, courtesy of Nottingham Castle Museum entitled ‘GYPSY SPLENDOUR’ aka ‘FINE FEATHERS'. 

"In the mid-1930s Knight befriended and painted groups of Gypsies at the Epsom and Ascot racecourses. Knight frequently returned to the racecourses and painted from the back of an antique Rolls-Royce car, which was large enough to accommodate her easel. Often pairs of Gypsy women would pose at the open door of the Rolls-Royce, with the race-day crowds in the background. From Epsom, Knight was invited to the Gypsy settlement at Iver in Buckinghamshire. Knight visited the Iver settlement, normally closed to outsiders, every day for several months in the late 1930s. These visits resulted in a series of portraits of great intensity. Two women, in particular, sat a number of times for Knight: Lilo Smith, the subject of Old Gypsy Women (1938) and Gypsy Splendour (1939), and her daughter-in-law, Beulah.  Gypsy Splendour was shown at the Royal Academy in 1939, the year Lilo Smith died.(From Wikipedia)

Copies are available here

More about Dame Knight from Wikipedia -

A short excerpt:  "Dame Laura Knight, (née Johnson), (4 August 1877 – 7 July 1970) was an English artist who worked in oils, watercolours, etching, engraving and drypoint. Knight was a painter in the figurative, realist tradition, who embraced English Impressionism. In her long career, Knight was among the most successful and popular painters in Britain. Her success in the male-dominated British art establishment paved the way for greater status and recognition for women artists.

Laura Knight

Dame Laura Knight circa 1910.jpg
Dame Laura Knight circa 1910
Laura Johnson

4 August 1877
Died7 July 1970 (aged 92)
London, England
EducationNottingham School of Art
Known forPainting
Notable work
The Nuremberg Trial (1946)
Spouse(s)Harold Knight
AwardsSilver Medal at the 1928 Amsterdam Art Olympics

In 1929 she was created a Dame, and in 1936 became the second woman elected to full membership of the Royal Academy.  Her large retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1965 was the first for a woman. Knight was known for painting amidst the world of the theatre and ballet in London, and for being a war artist during the Second World War. She was also greatly interested in, and inspired by, marginalised communities and individuals, including Romani people and circus performers."

More about Dame Knight and Lilo Smith can be read in Rosie Broadley's SEARCHING FOR KNIGHT'S GYPSY SITTERS 

And a short video about the painting 


Lesa said...

This was a terrific rabbit hole - just fascinating, Kaye! Thank you for sharing that story and the wonderful painting!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

We do love a good rabbit hole don't we Lesa? ❤