BELL, Eileen

1907 - 2005

Eileen Bell

As Eileen Elizabeth Jefford Bowerbank, she was born at Clifton, Bristol on 28 October 1907, only surviving daughter of Edward John Bowerbank (20 April 1880-2 May 1946), a bank manager, and his wife Catherine Margaret née Jefford (31 May 1874-2 April 1962), an amateur cellist, who married at the Parish Church, Axminster, Devon on 24 August 1904. In 1911, Eileen was a 3-year-old living at 48 Berkeley Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol with her parents, 30-year-old Edward and 37-year-old Catherine. Her parents were against Eileen becoming an artist and instead, she studied the piano. After her marriage at Southport, Lancashire in 1937 to Randall Mulcaster Bell (11 September 1908-8 November 2004), a consultant surveyor, she was able to study art and in 1939 joined the St John's Wood School of Art, her teachers including the co-principals, Patrick Millard (1902-1972) and Ernest Perry (1908-1987), plus Kenneth Martin (1905-1984), a distinguished maker of constructions and kinetic work. Fellow students included Michael Ayrton (1921-1975) and John Minton (1917-1957). Her husband's job took him around wartime England, including Oxford, where their only child, Giles Sebastian, was born in 1941. Eileen was sympathetic when her son wished to study music and he went on to become principal flautist with the London Sinfonietta and to teach at the Royal Academy of Music. Back in London in 1947, Eileen resumed her studies at the Anglo-French Art Centre, which had followed the closed St John's Wood School. There, in addition to such English teachers as Perry, she learned from noted continental artists including Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) and Jean Lurcat (1892-1966). An artist for whom contrasts of tone and the quality of paint were important which she had learned from some of the best teachers in pre-and post-Second World War London and was also a trained musician as well as a potter, interior designer, writer and the early cultural mentor of the television gardener and writer Alan Titchmarsh. She had joined the Artists International Association in 1939 and continued to show there and among her other exhibitions was one shared with the distinguished Scottish painter Anne Redpath (1895-1965), as well as appearances at other notable London venues including the Young Contemporaries, Lisle Street, London; Leicester Galleries; London Group of Artists; Royal Society of British Artists and the Christopher Hull Gallery, Motcombe Street. A prolific natural artist who was still applying paint to canvas into her nineties. Her 2003 retrospective at the Chappel Galleries, near Colchester, showed her to be a rich colourist, producing still-life with a quirky perspective and sea and beach scenes inspired by the coast of Suffolk. In the mid-1970's, she and her husband, settled in Suffolk, firstly at Drinkstone, then at nearby Tostock, with visits to Walberswick and Aldeburgh for painting inspiration. Eileen Elizabeth Jefford Bell then lived in a care home at Leiston, Suffolk where she died on 27 January 2005. She wrote two children's books for Puffin, 'Tales from the End Cottage' (1970) and 'More Tales from the End Cottage' (1972).

Works by This Artist