Hacheston: Tributes to acclaimed artist Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy after three year battle against cancer
09:00 22 December 2012
THE husband of an acclaimed artist who received worldwide recognition when she painted a portrait of The Queen has paid glowing tribute to his talented and inspirational wife.
Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy, who lived with her family in Hacheston, near Framlingham, passed away earlier this week following a three year fight against cancer.
Last night her husband of 32 years Roderick Roy said she had fought the disease until the very end.
“She was a very, very determined person,” he said. “If she wanted to express a view she would. She was never afraid to say what she thought. It was the same with her cancer, she fought and fought, right up until the very end.”
Chinwe was born in eastern Nigeria and moved to Britain in 1975, studying at East Ham College followed by Hornsey College of Art, which is now part of Middlesex University.
As a teenager she was a refugee in the Biafran War - an experience that Mr Roy believes gave her that determination.
“She saw the most horrific things happening - people strafed by planes and others being killed,” he said. “It was terrible. They were hunted from place to place.”
During the fighting she was diagnosed with an incredibly rare and hard to spot neuromuscular disorder called myasthenia gravis.
“She got to the stage where she could hardly move and could hear people talking of her demise,” Mr Roy continued. “However, amazingly, a doctor friend recognised it.”
Following medical treatment she attended an all boys school, where she worked hard to reach the top of the class.
“She got into all sorts of trouble because she spent all the time drawing her teachers,” Mr Roy, 63, said. “They often made her stand on the table during the maths classes because then she couldn’t draw.”
She took up painting as a profession in 1988 and examples of her work are held in many public and private art collections, including that of The Queen and that of His Excellency Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, (formerly) President of Nigeria.
In 2002 she completed an official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, commissioned to mark the Golden Jubilee.
She was an avid supporter of Arsenal Football Club and did a lot of work for the players’ charities and also undertook a series of large paintings on the theme of the African Diaspora for athlete Kriss Akabusi, which ended up being so large that he was forced to move house to accommodate them.
In 2003, representing Britain, Chinwe addressed the European Council Committee in Paris on Contemporary African Art and Artists, and later that year was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of East Anglia.
A founder member of the Sudbourne Print Group she was also awarded an MBE in 2009.
Her talents were not just restricted to portraiture, she also developed a number of techniques which are now used regularly by other artists and was a respected sculptor and lithographer.
She leaves her husband and three children, Rogan, 31, Alasdair, 27 and Nwiru, 11.