BLAIR, Helen [Nell]

c.1907 - 1997

Nell Hutton

Helen Sara Blair was born in New Zealand on 26 September 1907, although in 1939 she gave the year of birth as 1908. By 1922 she had already achieved some commercial success, providing the illustrations for 'The Why Fairy Book' by L.T. Watkins. After returning to New Zealand from her studies in Paris, she met fellow artist John Hutton and together, they embarked on a successful and prolific collaborative relationship and married in 1934, holding a joint exhibition in Wellington in 1936 before relocating to the United Kingdom. In 1939 she was living in a commune at Assington Hall, Further Street, Great Waldingfield, Suffolk with her husband and their twin sons Warwick Hutton later an artist, glass engraver and illustrator and Macaillan Hutton, later an architect, they had a further son Peter Hutton, a teacher. On 7 April 1949, the Hutton's moved to Landermere Creek, near Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex, living firstly at the 'King’s Head' before renting from psychoanalyst Karin Stephen (1890-1953), moving into one of the Gull Cottages, where John had a glass studio in the garden which Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) had used to make his sculptures. They continued to work and exhibit together in England even after their divorce in 1960 and John's remarriage. Blair made distinctive modernist works, often painted with a palette knife with many of her paintings containing classical or biblical references, particularly her landscapes, which recall the backdrops to the figure paintings of the Old Masters. Later in life she turned to making collages which were mostly non-figurative many of these were shown at exhibitions in Cambridge. The author of 'The Technique of Collage' (1969) and, after a world tour studying stones, 'Practical Gemstones' (1972), which was illustrated by her son Warwick, also 'Textile Structures' (1975) and 'Mosaic Making Techniques' (1977). Helen Sara Blair died at 52 Warkworth Terrace, Cambridge on 20 October 1997 when the year of her birth is given as 1907. Her husband painted an oil 'Nell Hutton at Landermere'.

Works by This Artist