Sunday, December 03, 2006

Grace Golden

Miss Grace Lydia Golden, A.R.C.A. [Associate of the Royal College of Arts], was born in east London on 2 April 1904 and educated at the City of London School for Girls and won scholarships to the Chelsea College of Art (1920-23) and the Royal College of Art, where she studied from 1923 and taught, briefly, in 1926-27. That year, an exhibition of the Society of Wood Engravers at the Redfern Gallery, 27 Old Bond Street, included "a thoroughy worked-out landscape" by her entitled 'The Avenue'. She also attended the Regent Street Polytechnic.

She began her career in book illustration in the early 1930s but, in 1934, received a small legacy which enabled her to concentrate on work for exhibition. Between 1936 and 1940, she was exhibited at the Royal Academy, working in both water-colour and oils; she also exhibited at the FIne Art Society and Leicester Gallery among others. Two of her paintings were bought by the Chantry bequest and a number of paintings are held by the Tate and the National Archives (e.g. here).

During the war, her work appeared in touring exhibitions and she was commissioned by the Pilgrim Trust to make drawings of historic buildings. She also produced a number of posters for the Ministry of Labour and National Service, some examples of which can be found at the Museum of London (whose site also includes a brief biographical sketch).

After the war she produced posters for the Ministry of Information and painstakingly illustrated many educational books. In 1951, her book Old Bankside was published which reflected her fascination with London life which she had observed from the age of 5 when her family had moved to a five-storey house at the City end of the Southwark Bridge Road from which she could observe the working Thames River.

Some years later, Sam Wanamaker, who was planning to rebuild Shakespeare's Globe Playhouse on Bankside, invited Golden to become honorary archivist to the project at the Bear Gardens Museum.

She died at the Royal Free Hospital in London on 3 June 1993, aged 89. According to an obituary in The Times (21 June 1993):
Born into a working class family, Golden found, when grown up, that she had little in common with her background. She rejected it 'philistinism', but she retained through life her habits of thrift; she made her own clothes, with taste and style, and lived simply. She worked hard and virtually cut herself off from the world around her; this made her increasingly other-worldly, and she identified more with the historical periods she studied so avidly than with her own age.

But she had devoted friends who shared her passion for art, theatre, music and ballet. In their company she would become animated; she had a pleasant voice, and would sometimes burst into song -- Schubert, Sullivan and The Beggar's Opera were favourites -- while accompanying herself at the piano. In spite of the accurate observation of people in her pictures, she had little understanding of other people's feelings and anxieties; this blindness led her into a brief, disastrous marriage...

After years of neglect her work finally received wide recognition through a retrospective exhibition in 1979. Sometimes she regretted spending so much time on minute detail, which was out of character with the styles of her age; but these minutiae were an essential element of her own style, which contributed something of distinctive value to the art of her time.
Golden was a regular contributor to Swift Annual appearing in five consecutive annuals (1957-61).

Old Bankside. London, Williams & Norgate, 1951.

Illustrated Books
The Voyage of the Landship by Dale Collins. London, Pilot Press, 1947.
Don, Dobbie and Dash. A runaway Gipsy trio by Ruth Clarke. London & New York, Frederick Warne & Co., 1950.
Towpath Tad by Kathleen Foyle. London & New York, Frederick Warne & Co., 1951.
The Book of Ballet by James Audsley. London & New York, Frederick Warne & Co., 1954; revised, Frederick Warne & Co., 1964; revised, Frederick Warne & Co., 1967.
The Pilgrim's Progress in Pictures by John Bunyan, adapted by the Rev. Ralph Kirby; illus. with others. London, Odhams Press, 1952.
Brogeen and the Bronze Lizard by Patricia Lynch. London, Burke, 1954.
Wings Over Dulcia by George Mallery. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1954.
The Wonderful Winter by Marchette Chute. London, Phoenix House, 1956.
Preparing the Way by Mary Odell. New York, Hawthorn Books, 1963; London, Burns & Oates, 1964.
The People and Lands of the Bible. With activities and readings by Ronald Thomson. London, Hulton Educational Publications, 1964.
The Bible Story and Its Background ser. by Norman J. Bull.
__1: Founders of the Jews. London, Hulton Educational, 1965; revised, Cheltenham, Hulton Educational, 1981.
__2: Kings of the Jews. London, Hulton Educational, 1966.
__3: Prophets of the Jews. London, Hulton Educational, 1966.
__4: The Church of the Jews. London, Hulton Educational, 1967.
__5: Jesus the Nazarene. London, Hulton Educational, 1968.
__6: The Parables of Jesus. London, Hulton Educational, 196
__7: The Church of Jesus Begins. London, Hulton Educational, 1969.
__8: The Church of Jesus Grows. Amersham, Hulton, 1970.
Dictionary of Non-Christian Religions. Amersham, Hulton, 1971; Louisville, KY, Westminster John Knox Press, 1973.

(* The illustrations from Swift Annual 6 (Winnie) and 5 (Magic Train) are © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.)

1 comment:

  1. Grace Golden is quoted in 'Austerity Britain' by David Kynaston on p 510: "working on Enid Blyton drawings - feel discouraged as soon as begin".



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