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Anne: Hush-hush work and evading Hitler’s bombs − then a life in art

PUBLISHED: 17:03 02 October 2018

Anne Paterson Wallace in her studio    Picture: Lance Cooper

Anne Paterson Wallace in her studio Picture: Lance Cooper


Anne Paterson Wallace came to Suffolk and built a reputation as a painter of romantic landscapes, but her earlier life had its moments too: hush-hush work during the war and evading Hitler’s bombs

'Portrait in watercolour of Anne Paterson' by Agnes Sim Smythe RSW         Picture: Lance Cooper'Portrait in watercolour of Anne Paterson' by Agnes Sim Smythe RSW Picture: Lance Cooper

Anne Paterson Wallace was born in 1923 in Montrose, Scotland – granddaughter of James Paterson, who was a founder member of the Glasgow Boys (Scottish school of painters at the end of the 19th century).

“This heritage was to influence her profoundly as a painter,” says daughter Sue Wallace-Shaddad. “It also shaped her life as she increasingly devoted her time to promoting greater public recognition of James Paterson’s work and that of other artists in the Paterson family.

“Following her upbringing in Montrose and Perth, Anne served in the Women’s Royal Navy Service (WRNS) in Special Branch. Anne was one of the many Wrens who worked at Eastcote, an outstation of Bletchley Park. She, like others, had been sworn to secrecy and would never share her memories of that time.

“The family have a portrait of Anne in her uniform; there is a story behind this painting. Her friend and mentor, the artist Agnes Sim Smythe RSW (Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour), was painting this portrait in London when a bomb landed nearby, so painter and sitter had to shelter under a table; the painting was never completed.

“From 1947-1950 Anne studied at Chelsea School of Art with teachers including Ceri Richards. She gained the National Diploma of Illustration and Design in 1950.

“Anne came to live in Suffolk in 1951 when she married Alan Wallace, farm manager for the Greenwell estates. They lived in a large farmhouse by Butley Creek, an ideal location for an artist with its views of river, marshes and wide Suffolk skies.

“Anne held many exhibitions at the house in aid of good causes. She quickly became involved with the Suffolk arts community as an artist, promoter of the arts, exhibition organiser and committee member. At the same time, she raised four children and ran a busy household.

“Anne developed into a painter of romantic landscape, working particularly in watercolour. She exhibited regularly with one-man shows and mixed shows in Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, London and Scotland.

Wind in the sky - a  pastel by Anne Paterson Wallace                               Picture: Lance CooperWind in the sky - a pastel by Anne Paterson Wallace Picture: Lance Cooper

“She illustrated East Anglia from the Sea by David and Joan Hay. She owned and ran the Woodbridge Art Gallery 1961-1969 (now Woodbridge Violins). She was a committee member of Ipswich Arts Society for over 30 years (including stints as chair), chair of Woodbridge Art Club for many years and founder member of the British Watercolour Society, Yorkshire.

“Anne promoted many emerging and fellow artists in Suffolk. In 1985 she co-founded a group of East Anglian Artists, Eight plus One (8+1), which held exhibitions in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lanarkshire. The group included Kenneth Cuthbert, David Hazelwood, John Constable, Yvonne Drewry, Charles Longbotham RWS, Mark Miller, Pris Forrest, Evangeline Dickson and Anne herself as the ‘plus one’.

“Anne did much to advance knowledge of the work of her grandfather and the wider Paterson family of artists through significant exhibitions in Suffolk, London and Scotland. James had in fact visited Dedham Vale in 1916 and named one of his sons after Constable.

“She wrote articles and gave lectures on Scottish painting. In 1994 she set up the James Paterson Museum in Moniaive, Dumfriesshire, the village where he had his home and studio for many years.

“She travelled regularly between Suffolk and Scotland to run the museum each year. The museum closed at the end of 2003 and the contents were generously gifted by Anne and the wider Paterson family to the Special Collections Department, University of Glasgow, where they are now accessible to the public: www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/specialcollections/collectionsaz/jamespatersonmuseumarchive

“In her later years Anne fulfilled a life-long ambition by publishing a limited edition anthology – ‘The Glasgow Boy’ James Paterson of Moniaive, following in my grandfather’s footsteps – copies of which have been presented by her family to key Scottish art institutions.

“Anne left a vibrant legacy. Many of her paintings are in private collections but paintings are held in the Art Collection (Ipswich), Colchester and Ipswich Museums.

“Anne passed away peacefully on September 16, 2018.”

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