Rachel Ann le Bas
WAITING GONDOLAS, VENICE
Rachel Ann le Bas, 1923 - 2020Ann le Bas was a painter and etcher, born in Camberley, Surrey in 1923. She moved to Exmoor with her father in 1929, to the village of Winsford, near Minehead in Somerset, where she lived for the rest of her long life. After the war ended in 1945, Ann’s talent had been recognised and she studied at the City & Guilds of London Art School from 1946 to 1948, under A. R. Middleton Todd RA RWS RE NEAC, Rodney Burn RA NEAC and under Henry Wilkinson RE who taught her engraving.
Ann exhibited at the Royal Academy in London from 1945 and in 1960, she was elected to the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers & Engravers, now known as the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE). In 1969, she was elected to the Art Workers Guild and was Master of the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen from 1995 to 1999. Much earlier, in 1972, she was elected to the New English Art Club (NEAC), of which she was an active member, exhibiting for almost 50 years.
She is fondly remembered: “She was a devoted and welcoming member [of the New English Art Club] and worked on the committee for several years, travelling from deepest Somerset and, besides exhibiting, cooked over 100 sausages on a Baby Belling in batches in her London flat - carrying them all in shopping bags on the tube for the annual lunch at the NEAC Exhibition! Her smiling face would accompany a jovial greeting. She was warm, sharp, entertaining and wonderfully engaging. Her fine draughtsmanship was applied to watercolour, oil and etching. Of course the art of etching, and the print press, is a distinctly physical activity, requiring many hours of steady work and she conquered all with real stamina, which all appears in her work.
Ann had a technical skill and understanding of engraving, etching and aquatint. She made prints that reflected on observation of her surroundings, whether it was of a stand of beech trees, a dilapidated barn, an alpine pass, a Venetian sunrise, a saw mill, cattle or sheep - all were beautifully convincing in her bringing together of knowledge, technique and sympathy for her subject. In her paintings, Ann used oils and watercolour, specialising in landscape, still life and interiors, at home and abroad. She never had any desire to make a statement about her work, believing it should speak for itself.
Her work has been exhibited widely, including at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and New English Art Club Annual Exhibition. She undertook various commissions including the National Trust Foundation for Art. She has prints in the Ashmolean permanent collection in Oxford and is also represented in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, as well as in numerous private collections.
For over 25 years, Ann held an Open Studio with Somerset Art Week where visitors could see her work and, whilst enjoying it, ask questions about how a print is made, the tools used and all the stages along the creative path. Ann also played a vital role in her local community in supporting projects and people in need of help and advice.
Ann le Bas died on 4 January 2020 at the age of 96.
behalf of the Dolan Family.
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