1922 - 2008

Mary Newcomb

As Mary Slatford, she was born at Harrow-on-the-Hill on 25 January 1922, daughter of Charles Slatford (5 April 1885-15 June 1970), a warehouseman, and his wife Mabel May née Lupton (26 May 1883-17 October 1960), who married at Willesden, Middlesex in 1915, and in 1939 were living at 70 The Down, Trowbridge, Wiltshire where Mary grew up. Educated at Trowbridge Girls' High School and after obtaining a general sciences degree from Reading University, Mary taught mathematics and science at Bath High School in Somerset. Next to nature art was really her mainspring and in 1945, she volunteered as a student helper in the Flatford Mill Field Studies Centre being set up by bird painter Eric Ennion (1900-1981) on the Suffolk-Essex border. Lodging in Willy Lott's Cottage, overlooking a favourite scene of John Constable [q.v.], she learned the art of observation, taking copious notes and sketches to keep an image fresh in the mind's eye. On a trip organised by Ennion to boost bittern-friendly reedbeds at Walberswick, she met trainee farmer Godfrey Newcomb, who had been raised in India and they married in 1950, and had two daughters. After the marriage they lived on small farms in Suffolk's Waveney valley where the fledgling painter found everything that she needed for her art, becoming a member of the Norfolk & Norwich Art Circle 1951-1963 from Needham, Norfolk. Having taken evening classes at Corsham Court, the Wiltshire arts school run by Clifford (1907-1985) and Rosemary Ellis (1910-1998), her first creative venture was in clay and she and Godfrey turned out decorative slipware which was popular with the new wave of craft shops. Within a few years Godfrey was running the farm and pottery, as Mary found her vocation in painting while also raising daughters, Hannah and Tessa [q.v.]. An untrained and intuitive artist and whilst living in Newton Flotman, Norfolk, became a stalwart of the Norwich Twenty Group before taking her work to London dealer Andras Kalman (1919-2007) which resulted in the start of a relationship between artist and dealer and she had many exhibitions at Crane Kalman from 1970, with further shows across Europe and America. In 1980 her paintings 'The Hollow Place', 'Spring Flowers', 'Doors' and 'Puppets' were competition entries at the Ipswich Art Club and her pictures were purchased by numerous public galleries including the Tate and in 1996, a monograph 'Mary Newcomb' by Christopher Andreae, was republished. Her husband Godfrey Newcomb died on 17 April 2003 and Mary suffered a debilitating stroke in the October of that year from which she was not expected to recover. The atmosphere in her nursing home at Darsham, near Saxmundham, Suffolk, was astonishingly like that of her successive houses and she died 29 March 2008.

Works by This Artist