Phyllis Ginger (1907-2005):
Self portrait, c.1937
Framed (ref: 9731)
Provenance: The Artist daughter
Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, et al. Women Only Works on Paper. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p. 69.
Llewellyn, Sacha, and Paul Liss. Portrait of an Artist. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p.304.
This brutally honest self-portrait can be dated to Phyllis Ginger’s student years at the Central School of Art, where, having been awarded a scholarship, she studied under William P Robins. She had recently left her civil service clerking job – a career path that her parents had persuaded her to take – and had cut her long auburn hair short. Leafing through a sketchbook, and engaging the viewer with a bold and penetrating gaze, Ginger asserts herself as an independent artist. This is a rare self-image; Eleanor Durbin, the artist’s daughter, declared that ‘portraying friends and family members was much more in Ginger’s character. She was interested in recording others and was more generally self-effacing about her own image on paper’.With her heart set on a career in illustration, Ginger became a member of the Senefelder Club in 1939, and during the war produced work for the Recording Britain project. In the 1950s she illustrated numerous books and exhibited etchings with the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers and at the Royal Academy.
Although Ginger made designs for Wedgwood plates, and 17 preparatory sketches are in the collection of the Imperial War Museum, no designs went into production. During the war, supplies of paper were limited, and the brown discolouration of this proof is due to the paper’s high content of acidic wood pulp.
We are grateful to Maude Llewellyn and Eleanor Durbin for assistance.
Copyright for Phyllis Ginger is held by the Artist's Estate, courtesy of Eleanor Henley and Paul Durbin.