PILKINGTON, Audrey Elizabeth

1922 - 2015

Audrey Pilkington

Audrey Elizabeth Pilkington was born at Heaning in the Forest of Bowland, Clitheroe, Lancashire in 1922, daughter of George Pilkington (30 May 1892-21 December 1968), a land agent, and his wife Florence née Broadley (9 May 1894-30 June 1987), who married at Blackburn, Lancashire in 1919 and in 1939, were living at 'Tarnwater', Tunstall, Sheffield. Because of Heaning’s isolation, at the aged of 7, Audrey went to board at the convent of Notre Dame, Blackburn and later at St Hilda’s, Whitby. A 12-year-old when she first exhibited at the Lancashire Artists' Exhibition held at the Preston Museum and Art Gallery March-April 1935. In 1939 she attended Storey Institute at Lancaster School of Art, where she was influenced by the dedicated teacher, Ronald Grimshaw (1905-1982) and afterwards studied at the Slade School of Art which, owing to the war, had relocated to Oxford and where Randolph Schwabe (1885-1948), who had agreed to come out of retirement, was Slade Professor. Most of the male students at the Slade were away on war service but a small group of serous students, who were unable to enlist, remained and Audrey made friends with Bernard Dunstan (1920-2017) and through him met her future husband, Patrick Heriz-Smith, who was Bernard’s flatmate. Patrick was offered the post as Art Master at Gordonstoun, which had been evacuated to Wales, and in 1942 Audrey and Patrick married. After Gordonstoun had returned to Scotland, Audrey taught art in the preparatory school. She exhibited in London and had one-man shows in Lancashire, Italy and Switzerland and designed book jackets for Chatto & Windus and Jonathan Cape and she also drew for 'Vogue' and illustrated ‘After Bath’ by Vaughan Wilkins for Cape. Audrey’s eldest children, Saskia Elizabeth Joanna and Nicholas Peter were born in Wales and her third child, George Tobias, was born in Scotland. In 1947 the family moved to King Alfred school in Plön, Germany, a progressive British Forces Boarding School, where her husband was Housemaster and Head of the Art Department. Her artistic development flourished in Germany, she developed an original style in pastel and watercolour landscapes inspired by the enchanting Schleswig-Holstein lake country. She also began experimenting with collage, a technique she has continued to explore and the influence of which can be discerned in many aspects of her painting method with her work being exhibited in Hamburg to critical acclaim. Her fourth and fifth children, Bridget Audrey Jane and Rupert Patrick, were born in Germany. In 1954 they returned to England to the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, near Ipswich where her husband was again a Head of Art and their sixth and last child, Lindsey Barbara, was born in 1957. Audrey had a studio at the bottom of the garden at Royal Hospital School and despite her large family was able to continue developing her work and exhibited in Essex, Suffolk and in London, including the Redfern Gallery and Heals. In 1961 they purchased Clock House, Bruisyard, Suffolk where she and her husband opened a residential art school, the Clock House was renowned for its gardens which Audrey created over the years. From 1979 she ran the studios with her daughter, Bridget Heriz-Smith, and expanded the facilities to include an etching workshop, a sculpture studio and bronze-casting foundry. The Clock House Artists Association was founded in 1982 which ran bi-annual shows for several years along with arts council funded residencies, regular talks, events and parties. The Association was later taken over by Laurence Edwards and supports his work at Butley Studios in Suffolk. From 1961 Audrey exhibited widely in Suffolk, both solo and mixed shows and exhibited in London and showed regularly with Vera Delf at the Yoxford Gallery and with Iris Birtwistle (1918-2006), the maverick dealer, at that time based in Walberswick, Suffolk. In 1988, she moved to Resolven, West Glamorgan, Wales, where she continued with her work, painting large abstract oils and landscapes in pen, ink and wash, gouache, and pastels. Since living in Wales, she has exhibited her work in two solo shows in Neath Museum and another at The Cut Halesworth, Suffolk in 2007 and exhibited at Swansea University Gallery. Audrey Elizabeth Heriz-Smith died at her home in Neath Road, Resolven on 1 November 2015. Jointly with Patrick Heriz-Smith made a coloured linocut which is illustrated under Heriz-Smith.

Works by This Artist