Teacher, Artist, Great British Eccentric

12 Apr

Ink sketch: Pat's send-off.

Today was one of those days where I experienced the meaning of the word ‘bittersweet’. I went with many others to the funeral of Pat Briggs, a Swansea-based artist, printmaker and sculptor who taught me in my first year at Swansea Art College, on my Foundation year, almost 40 years ago. We both stuck around Swansea [apart from a few years I spent over the border] and I grew to know her as a fellow artist and great eccentric as well as a valued teacher and mentor. She was born in 1930 and was one of the very few women of her generation to gain a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art, a great achievement and one of those amazing women that paved the way for my [and subsequent] generations of female artists. Her final illness lasted just a few months but before that she was still an active practitioner, making prints and drawings, using digital media and wandering around the city with her ubiquitous shopping trolley, collecting found objects for her witty and often bizarre sculptures. Here’s a link to the Swansea Print Workshop Facebook page, with Kara Seaman’s photograph of Pat making a print in her final year.

It may seem a bit odd doing a drawing at a funeral, but this is the second one I have done recently, both at funerals of artists. I feel it’s my way, as an artist, to honour their memory. I’d like artists to draw at my funeral. Here is the view from my seat at Swansea Crematorium earlier today. People of all ages came to pay their last respects, from babes in arms to octogenarians. Even the vicar is a former student of hers. It’s a great thing to have a good teacher, something our politicians should take note of. A good teacher will inspire you for life, not just cram you through exams and Pat, a VERY blunt Northerner who didn’t mince words, taught me in my first year at art college about the value of constantly criticising and reevaluating what I’m doing and I’ll always be thankful to her for that.Today was bitter because we’ll miss her but sweet to remember a woman who lived her long life to the full and achieved more than most could even hope for.

Pat Briggs. Artist. 1930-2012.

10 Responses to “Teacher, Artist, Great British Eccentric”

  1. Drew Kail April 13, 2012 at 18:19 #

    A wonderful and touching post. I don’t think it’s odd at all to make the drawing, and in fact, believe it to be a most loving gesture to her memory.

  2. Hansi April 13, 2012 at 14:18 #

    Nice tribute to a teacher and mentor. Nice drawing too:)

  3. Helen Cherry April 12, 2012 at 21:00 #

    A great tribute… you are right about the lifelong inspiration.. I had an English and Drama teacher who did the very same, she too was inspirational.

    • Rosie Scribblah April 12, 2012 at 21:07 #

      Thanks Helen, sad that our politicians don’t seem to realise what education is really about.

  4. karasartisticaladventures April 12, 2012 at 20:50 #

    That’s very beautiful Rose, it was nice to see so many people at the funeral and the junction, and it was lovely to see those photos and hear the many stories, I think the memory I shall have most of all from today though is her brothers speech, I found that extreemly moving, especially what he was saying about them mis-understanding one another for so long, it was so wonderful to meet him and the many other friends who Pat has brought me into contact with over the years.
    I shall look forward to seeing more of her work exhibited in the future and of hearing the many more stories that people have to tell!

    • Rosie Scribblah April 12, 2012 at 20:57 #

      Thanks Kara. Today was really lovely. I missed the speeches at The Junction, pity. Never mind, there’s so much more to tell. I hope there’s going to be more exhibitions.

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