Joan Gillchrest

Joan Gillchrest


Joan Gillchrest, painter, was born on November 2, 1918. She died on January 3, 2008, aged 89

This now famous painter whose naive style immortalised Mousehole, Cornwall, and was greatly appreciated by the public, if not by critics.

Now one of Mousehole’s most recognisable and celebrated artists.

For years, high above the granite and grey rooftops of Mousehole, Cornwall, and surveying its little harbour painted by so many illustrious forebears, Joan Gillchrest enjoyed the best sea views in the town and gamely recycled them in myriad pictures well received by the public, who found them evocative but disregarded by critics, who felt them wanting in integrity.

Gillchrest’s apparently naive style of painting was without perspective, instantly recognisable and contained little of the actuality of the region. Instead she tended to portray it more as a summer holidaymaker would wish to see it: under reasonably clement skies, surveying a calm sea innocuously decorated with randomly bobbing boats. Her best work, which is desolate in its icy uniformity of palette and which is hard to reconcile with the majority, bespeaks more of the Neptunian dreamer that was nearer to her true personality: hugely sensitive, not at all conventional, non-domestic, and torn between idyllic escapism and an understanding of human frailty at a very visceral level.

Gillchrest was born Joan Gilbert Scott in 1918 into a conventional and well-heeled family with some illustrious members. Her great-grandfather, George, was the architect of St Pancras Station; her uncle was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, architect of Liverpool Cathedral, of Battersea Power Station and the one at Bankside that is now Tate Modern, and of the iconic, red cast-iron telephone box based on the design taken from the interior of the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Her father was a distinguished diagnostic radiologist who had worked with Marie Curie and who developed the treatment of disease with radiation.

One of four children, three of them girls, she was brought up at Bourne End, near Cookham, Berkshire. She attended boarding school and at 16, through her wilfulness and the indulgence of her father and artistic mother, was allowed to spend a year in Paris to study French. She also cultivated her interest in painting there, and later attended the Grosvenor School of Art under the painter and engraver Iain Macnab of Barachastlain.

Seeking an unconstrained life, she accepted a proposal of marriage during the war from a prosperous American, Samuel Gillchrest, son of one of the proprietors of British-American Tobacco. As a means of escape it was unsatisfactory. He proved to be the first of a trio of partners who would threaten her emotional security and compromise her sublimely romantic dream of long-term fusion.


Born Joan Linda Gilbert Scott at Bentinck Street, London, W1
Parents:- Dr Sebastian and Alice Gilbert Scott

Rosemead School
Upper Chine School, Isle of Wight
Wadhurst Boarding School

Paris—to learn the language and develop her appreciation of art
Met Gwen John in her studio.

Enrolled at the Grosvenor School of Art
Exhibited at Royal Academy
Exhibited at New English Art Club
Exhibited at the London Group

Start of World War 2, volunteers as an ambulance driver for the Westminster Hospital

Marriage to Samuel Gillchrest

Divorced and needing to earn living and support her painting she models for the leading London fashion houses

Moves to 48 Tite Street, Chelsea
Meets the Artist Adrian Ryan

Joan and Adrian move to Cornwall
Joan buys a cottage in Mousehole

Starts to exhibit her work at local galleries in Mousehole, Penzance, St. Ives

First solo show at Plymouth Art Gallery

1976 – 78
Many mixed and solo shows including:-
New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham
Windsor and Eton Fine Art Company Ltd
Leon Suddaby Fine Art
Newlyn Orion
New Craftsman, St. Ives

First exhibits with Wren Gallery, Burford

Annual Solo Exhibitions with Wren Gallery

Dies at her home in Mousehole

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