Museum Highlight

Marjorie Heather

Perhaps take inspiration from this work and create a portrait of one of your fellow artists? In March and April we have two RGA Fridays to get you in the mood for a bit of figure and portrait drawing. [Highlighted: Feb 2023]

Gilbert Spencer RA
Marjorie Heather (1905–1989)

Oil on canvas
Date: 1965

RGA member 1964–1985
Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 1990.64.

Gilbert Spencer RA (1892–1979) was a painter of landscapes, portraits and murals, in both oils and watercolour working in a style similar to his older brother Stanley Spencer. Gilbert was a member of the Reading Guild of Artists 1938-1942 and later as an Honorary Life Member 1953-1979. An oil painting of Gilbert Spencer by fellow member Marjorie Heather was exhibited at the Reading Guild of Artists Thirty-Fifth Annual Exhibition Municipal Art Gallery Reading May 1 – May 25 1965.

Marjorie Heather is described in David Buckman’s The Dictionary of Artists in Britain Since 1945 as a “Painter of semi-caricature figure groups”. Like the sitter of this portrait she worked in both oil and watercolour believing “in the importance of line drawing, she constantly carried a sketch-book, saying that it was essential to sketch as fast as you write, working up paintings in her studio which retained a strong outline.”

Born in 1905 in Newbury where she lived her whole life, Marjorie joined the RGA in 1964. A fellow member, EV Watson, wrote “she was making her mark with work of extraordinary vitality”. The titles of her paintings such as Vanishing NewburyC.N.D. Rally at Aldermaston 1972, and Pensioners Demonstrate give us an insight into the subjects which influenced her practice, a social commentary of the times as well as personal experiences such as Waiting Outside the Academy. She exhibited three times at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition in 1956, 1976 and 1981. A member of the Newbury Art Group, several of her works can be found as part of the West Berkshire Museum’s art collection.

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