1931 - 2010

Yvonne Skargon

Yvonne Skargon was born at Harwich-cum-Dovercourt, Essex on 1 May 1931, daughter of Cuthbert Victor Skargon (13 December 1898-July 1992), an assurance agent, and his wife Minnie née Deex (1 August 1902-January 1981), who married at Harwich-cum-Dovercourt, Essex on 12 November 1921, and in 1939 were living at 28 Lime Avenue, Harwich, Yvonne was the sister of Barbara Moor. Schooling in wartime gave Yvonne a taste and some aptitude for drawing and painting and she studied wood engraving and design at Colchester School of Art from 1948 under the then principal, John O'Connor, her inspiration was a visiting lecturer, Blair Hughes-Stanton. Her first job was with Ipswich printers W. S. Cowell Ltd, then one of the best and most innovative printers in the country. Under the eye of John Lewis, she added typography and book-design to her repertoire and was transferred to Cowell's London office, embarking on a career working for publishers or freelance, illustrating or designing books and book-jackets. One of her first book illustrations was in 1955 for 'Kabongo' by Richard St Barbe Baker and in 1967 Christopher's, the London wine merchants, started a monthly newsletter, to which Elizabeth David (1913-1992) was a contributor and to which Skargon illustrated and it was published in book form, 'Eat at Pleasure, Drink by Measure' (1970). In 1976 Yvonne became visiting lecturer in wood engraving at the Royal College of Art, which ended in 1980 when the subject was dropped from the syllabus. The following year she moved to Lavenham, Suffolk where, creating her own garden, provided her with new inspiration for engraving. Firstly, in the 'Observer' magazine and then in the gardening quarterly 'Hortus', flowers and plants seemed to grow out of the wood under her hand. In 1990 she drew the roses for the Royal Mail commemorative stamps, adding watercolours of them for the special first-day cover envelopes. Another unexpected success came from her engravings of her cats, with 'The Importance of Being Oscar' (1988) and 'Lily & Hodge & Dr Johnson' (1991) becoming world bestsellers. The cats became the trademark of a chain of boutique shops in Japan, and transmigrated into china and textiles, an unexpected spin-off. 'Watermarks' (2003) was a return to the objects and scenes of the sea and shore of her childhood. She married at Finsbury, London in 1962, John Edward Commander (February 1927-18 March 2021) and Yvonne Commander died at her home at 44 Prentice Street, Lavenham near Sudbury, Suffolk on 16 March 2010.

Works by This Artist