Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Serving an Art Dish

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Serving an Art Dish

Article excerpt

Like many families, the Wilsons, who lived during the war in Spennithorne Road in Stockton, followed a particular routine in the evening.

Once dinner was over, the table was cleared and the family made themselves comfortable around the warm glow of the rustling fire and, air-raids allowing, settled down for the evening, dad and daughter Audrey reading and mum knitting. Second daughter, Mavis, however, remained at the dinner table - and painted.

Mavis was encouraged by her parents in her painting, her mum, Florence, being an accomplished artist.

But little did Florence and her husband Harold, an engineer at Ashmore Benson and Pease, know, but Mavis would grow up to become one of the country's top artists.

From her home in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex, Mavis's sister, Audrey Hodgson, recalls: "Mavis and I both attended the Richard Hind Secondary School. Miss Cannon was our art teacher and she quickly spotted Mavis's exceptional ability.

"But what really started it was a weekly competition run by the Evening Gazette, for which children coloured in a sketch of an animal, or place or person. The winning result was published every week."

Mavis was a junior school pupil when she began taking part in the competition but she often won it, spending hours at the dining room table, poring over the Gazette sketch.

In fact, the dinner table in the Wilson household became as much a drawing table and to this day Mavis, a world famous artist, still does not have her own studio - but instead uses the dining room table on which to paint.

On most Saturday mornings an envelope would drop through the letter box and it was more often than not a letter from the Gazette congratulating Mavis on her win, the reward being National Savings stamps worth about five shillings.

In fact, this became such a regular event that the sight of the postman walking up the path to the front door would be greeted by the family all calling out once, dad shaving, mum preparing breakfast, Audrey reading: "You've won again, Mavis".

It was the colouring-in competition that helped fire in the young Mavis a love of art and painting and her parents, keen to encourage this creativity, bought her a sketch pad and collection of pencils. …

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