Elisabeth Vellacott

Elisabeth Vellacott (1905-2002) had her first solo show aged 60 and painted her last work at 92. Her paintings of figures in houses, gardens and landscapes have a still and enchanted quality, and her travels around the British Isles inspired her minutely detailed chalk or pencil studies of rock formations, trees and water. Jim Ede bought several such landscapes for Kettle’s Yard, where Vellacott also exhibited her work.

At the Royal College of Art she studied life drawing with Tom Monnington, and her own observation of 15th-20th century paintings, Indian textiles, Persian minatures, Chinese and Japanese ceramics and Diaghilev’s ballet productions contributed to her understanding of colour and form. On her return to Cambridge Vellacott worked as a designer and printer of textiles, and designed sets and costumes for the Cambridge University Musical Society, often with her friend Gwen Raverat.

Vellacott later brought part of an orchard in Hemingford Grey, near Cambridge, and commissioned Peter Boston to build her a house and studio. The triangular glass and wood structure that he designed was a great success, and Vellacott was immensely pleased. The views from this house provided Vellacott with some of her favourite subjects: she painted and drew the old pear and apple trees throughout the seasons for many years. These drawings, always done on the spot, have a fine delicacy and a great sensibility to the rhythm and flow of nature.