Friday, 13 March 2009



Elizabeth was the first wife of Anthony Hill. He worked part-time at my London studio darkroom from 1963 to 1968. She was called "Zibby" by all who knew her. When I came to paint her portrait years later from memory I placed the subject in the Elizabethan era. She was traditionally old-fashioned in outlook and mirrored Elizabethan Englishness despite her mother being Scottish born and bred. Her father was every bit a Londoner. They represented a type of person who will soon no longer exist, which is perhaps another reason I was drawn to placing her in the distant past. Her views today would be regarded as extreme and indubitably politically incorrect. But not so much back then. What I liked about Zibby was her sense of humour, plus the fact that she spoke her mind without fear or favour. She had wit and showed immense generosity to those whom she liked. Her tongue could sometimes be acerbic, as well as soft; yet she was always true to herself and that is at the heart of what really counts. I appreciated her honesty, and continued to know her until her divorce from Anthony at the turn of the 1980s. This was followed by an accidental encounter with her and her daughter, Jacqueline, a few years later along a busy Kentish Town thoroughfare. I never saw this unique lady again after that meeting. Zibby belonged to a breed now virtually extinct.  

Zibby at my portrait studio in the 1960s.

Earlier rendition of the portrait of Zibby (given the name Elizabeth at birth, becoming Elizabeth Hill when she married Anthony Hill in the mid-1960s).

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