Peggy Angus

Peggy Angus

1904 - 1993
Peggy Angus was born in Chile and came from a large family. Despite a Chilean upbringing Peggy was Scottish, and was soon sent away to Scotland for schooling. She turned into a well-educated child, eventually studying at Eastbourne School of Art. She became a renowned artist and designer, most well known for her industrial work and design lines for wallpaper. She died in 1993 at the age of 88, after a long and full life.

ROLE

Artist and Designer

EARLY LIFE & EDUCATION

Peggy Angus was born into a large family: the 11th child of 13. Peggy and her two younger sisters were often referred to as ‘the three kids’ by her elder siblings.  Despite being a large family there was no evidence of deprivation as a child, she recalled that her father would give her sugar lumps and bounce her on his knee during meal times. However, the entire family later hit a status of poverty, and during the war, the family was surviving on knitting machine earnings.  After WWI she travelled to Russia which helped to compound her own political belief in communism.

She was raised surrounded by industrialism, and described herself as a ‘railway child.’ Despite this Chilean upbringing from her birth, Peggy was soon sent away to Scotland for schooling. It made Peggy a person willing to travel and follow her own mind. She turned into a well-educated child and attended Eastbourne School of Art, she was set up from the beginning to be a teacher to others, and to be a welcoming force in choosing your own way and finding your own thing to do in life.

ACHIEVEMENTS

She was  interested in travellers and could often be found drawing portraits of the local Romani community in London,  described by them as a ‘likeness taker.’   An artist and designer, during and after the war years, she was a ‘free spirit’ never minding the fashion, dyeing her own leggings and making printed tops, paling everyone else in comparison.  She lived at Furlongs from 1933 establishing an important centre for her contemporaries, often hosting artists and designers such as husband and wife  Eric Ravilious and  Tirzah Garwood.  

Peggy was most well known for her industrial work and design lines for wallpaper, although not quite as well-known an artist as deserved, despite the Guardian Newspaper article on her legacy.  This may be due to the systematic removal of her art from the houses she decorated, and she kept no records of her prints.  Considering her penchant for storytelling, and being able to turn every story into a drama, it’s no surprise that Peggy taught others. She was head art teacher at North London Collegiate School in 1947, and left the position in 1970, her longest running teaching position. Contemporary art was often left out of her lectures, and instead the aesthetics of any piece were studied; never mind the renaissance and its artists.

For the full story click here 

RESEARCHERS VIEW

According to writer Corinne Julius, Peggy Angus was a warrior; my first impression of her was as a bit of a soft-spoken battle-axe.  She had an overwhelming zest for life and a forceful character which doesn’t sound quite the same as the image ‘battle-axe’ creates. She still feels like a private person as researching her only opened up a part of her to me, she seemed like such an encompassing force that this forceful personality, who spoke her mind, could sometimes come across as rude. However,  for a woman of the time I’m sure it was magnetic and refreshing to see in such an age.

Charlie Swarbrooke

Sorry, there are no videos here.

Many thanks to the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne for allowing me to scour your records and digital interview section. Books used for research are: ‘Art For Life: The Story of Peggy Angus by Carolyn Trant’, ‘Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter by James Russell’

I used these websites, Cooke, Rachel, ‘Peggy Angus was a warrior. Women weren’t supposed to be like that.’, 2014, July 6th

Harrod, Tanya, Obituary: Peggy Angus, 1993, November 2nd

http://www.blithfield.co.uk/peggy-angus-collection/

Moss, Richard, Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter is inspirational at Towner Eastbourne, 2014, August 12th

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