Cynthia Pell

Cynthia Pell was born with a prestigious talent, winning a national art competition in her last year at school. She was an art student at Bournemouth School of Art and then Camberwell and was remembered at the latter for being the most gifted student of her year.

She married a fellow student Ron Weldon and life seemed full of promise. She spent a summer painting in France and had a solo exhibition at the Beaux Gallery, London in 1957. However, all was not well and after the exhibition, she lit a bonfire outside on the street and burned her unsold work. This was a destructive pattern that recurred throughout her short life.

In 1973, when she was admitted to Bexley Hospital, Kent, a large psychiatric institution. She was superbly observant of the life of whatever ward she was on. When her mood was heightened and up, she would roam the long corridors of the hospital, biro, crayon and scraps of paper in her pocket or  sit with the boilermen in their little hide way and draw the feral cats that came in for warmth and food.

The book Cynthia Pell; The Bexley Hospital Drawings accompanied an exhibition at the Boundary Gallery, St. Johns Wood, London in 2000 where Cynthia’s last drawings were shown to the public. It received excellent reviews and served to confirm what a fine artist Cynthia was.

[Source: Britta von Zweigbergk, with thanks]