Ann Chester King

Who do i think i am

 The day after the sudden death of my mother my father found a small notebook in which my mother had written about her early child hood: memories from being a toddler until the age of about ten. The simple stories are about life as understood and seen by a young child living in the time of the great depression in the industrial NE of England and the Scottish Boarders. Who were the people mentioned ‘old Mrs Henderson and Auntie Minnie, the great grandparents reportedly a ballet dancer and a teacher: on further investigation was was found to be a single female agricultural worker who had delivered an illegitimate daughter to be given up to the salvation army for adoption. The simple stories of a world unknown to me became the stimulus and inspiration for my paintings.

Since first reading the contents of the notebook my sister Jane and myself have been slowly and rather chaotically attempting to unravel the family my mother was raised in. A picture emerged of poverty, not experienced by many today, challenges and disappointments, harsh conditions with little help or support other than from the somewhat draconian nuns of the local Roman Catholic Church. Amongst the drudgery and deprivation was warmth, friendship, eccentricity and small and important events: finding a whole biscuit in the broken biscuit bin, a game of ‘Cromwell and Jelly Bean’

My paintings are not a literal recording of people or events in part because I only have small and fleeting pieces of information but a response to the stories and the limited recorded information of both the rural and industrial poor. My paintings depict my interpretations of my mother’s story about her and her family who like many others struggling to survive slip below the radar. By painting my unknown family and their lives I have become connected to my past and understand my own and my mother’s life in a different and profound way.


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Elizabeth May
Shepherd's View
Young Penny
Young Bondager
hat 2
view 2
view 3
view 4
woman in field
mum and kid
Baby John
Studie; John
The Soldiers
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