Magazine article The Spectator

'Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter', by James Russell - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter', by James Russell - Review

Article excerpt

Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter James Russell

Antique Collectors Club, pp.176, £25, ISBN: 9781851497683

During the second world war, when not only food, but paper and artists' materials were scarce, Peggy Angus made a virtue of necessity. Potatoes were one of the few foods not rationed, so she began cutting them in half, carving designs into the cut side and printing them onto old newspapers in repeated patterns of oak leaves, smiling suns, waves, chevrons and Welsh dragons. It was with these playful, naïve designs -- which she later turned into tiles and wallpapers -- that she made her name.

Angus, like Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden, her contemporaries at the Royal College of Art, moved easily between media: potato prints, silkscreens, oil paintings, watercolours, and 'stained glass' made from coloured tissue paper. She illustrated children's books and contributed designs for the Festival of Britain.

She was head of art for many years at North London Collegiate School and her salary allowed her to rent a shepherd's cottage in Sussex which she papered from beams to skirting with her own designs.

In his richly illustrated new biography, published to coincide with a retrospective of Peggy's work at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne (until 21 September), James Russell evokes a vivid picture of life at Furlongs Farm. There was no electricity, and so light and heat (and not much of it) came from fires and paraffin lamps. …

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