Sunday, August 11, 2013


Annunciation with Knitting
Recently, I came across another unusual, but wonderful artist. ANTHEA CRAIGMYLE's childhood years were spent in the rambling old vicarage overlooking the Thames on Chiswick Mall, London. Growing up in a large family, she and her siblings spent their time exploring the area. With the onset of WWII, Anthea was shuttled between London and the country in an effort to protect her from the bombings, many of which she experienced while sleeping in the vicarage cellar among young Jewish refugees and neighbors. During her school years, Anthea had the good fortune to be taught by two remarkable teachers: first, Mrs. Henry Moore and then later, Kathleen Richardson, who nurtured Anthea’s growing capacity for visual description from imagination.  At 17 she attended Chelsea School of Art and later traveled to India where she met and later married her husband.

Painting has always been an essential element of her daily life. The imagery of much of her painting throughout the 50’s and 60’s was drawn from childhood memories; neglected churchyards, gardens, and parks she associated with her experiences of WWII and her paintings frequently portrayed a somber mood.

Bringing in the Cattle
 In the 70’s, Anthea made a conscious decision to change her approach. Her life experiences were much more positive and her pictures began to reflect her love of life and her enthusiasm for other people.

Recently, Anthea has returned to the Chiswick Mall where she paints in a studio not far from her childhood home. She frequently visits and paints the West Highlands where she finds inspiration.

Flight into Egypt

"The clean, romantic quality of her work is evocative both, immediately for what they show the eye, and more subtly in a dream-like, mystical way for what lies beyond. Anthea says, “I see everything in pictures. The muddle or chaos of war and indeed of war-lives means, I think, that I’m always trying to create order.” This gives her paintings the quality of a glance - sometimes amused - into a secure and, perhaps idealized, vision of the world. Her work is a powerful reminder that the spirit and essence of life never really changes".

In doing research on her life, I found her husband, Thomas Donald Mackay Shaw, more famous than Anthea. He was born in 1923, and became the third Lord Craigmyle on the death of his father in 1944. From his mother, the daughter of the first Earl of Inchcape (eminent ship owner and chairman of P & O), he came into an enormous fortune. He also inherited her wealth of gentleness and charm. It was said of him that he was blessed by a total absence of snobbery.

St. Francis & the Birds
Madonna Sewing

In 1955 he married Anthea, the gifted artist daughter of the High Anglican Canon Edward Rich.

In 1956 both came into the Catholic Church. Their marriage was a loving, successful partnership in every sense. 

They had four sons and three daughters. Lord Craigmyle is best remembered for his generosity, to not only the Church, but to his family and many friends. He died in London in 1998 and Anthea returned to the area of her childhood, where she paints to this day. 

Highland Sheep
Anthea painting

 I love her use of colors which at times blends into her shapes, giving that dream-like quality. In many of her paintings, one can almost  reach out and touch the animals. My favorite is St. Columba in his garden in Scotland.

St. Columba

1 comment:

  1. Hello--
    Anthea is an old friend, and I would love to know how to contact her. Can you help? I used to live with her late daughter ALison.
    Susan Morrison, The New Yorker