Saturday, 28 July 2012

A few words

SiX (at The Courtyard, Hereford) - From left: Bobby Britnell, Marie Roper, Catherine Nicholls, Linda Kemshall,Edwina Mackinnon and Laura Kemshall
It is with great sadness that I announce to you that our fellow artist, tutor and dear friend Marie Roper has died.

Marie was a founder member of the group, one of the 'original SiX' who got together in 2000 with no greater aims than to have fun, inspire each other and make some work. Since that time members of the group have come and gone, we've worked with guest artists and of course, most recently teamed up with new Friends. Throughout that time Marie produced the most beautiful work. Her art quilts and exquisite needle sculpted dolls delighting visitors each time they were exhibited.

The diverse personalities in a group are always an important part of the dynamics. Marie was never the loudest or the most outspoken, instead she took a quieter presence, one with experience, vast knowledge and skill in her craft and a kindness and generosity of spirit. As we stage our Orientation exhibitions later this year and into next we will be less without our absent friend.

The huge number of messages of condolence that have already arrived in our inboxes is testament to the way Marie was able to touch so many people with her work and her teaching, not only those who had the fortune to spend time with her, but even those who she had never met beyond the realms of email and the internet. Marie was a wonderful teacher, one with a rare gift for drawing out the best from each and every student. She held no prisoners and would tell it straight, but always with encouragement, support and an enthusiastic passion. We know from the many students who have written that the skills they have learnt from Marie will continue to inspire them and that will be part of her legacy. It is with regret that she will never know the influence she had, that quite so many people respected, cared and loved her even from afar.

I'm sure we all have our own memories of Marie. I so admired her as an artist, one who trod her own path and found her own way. Although we encouraged her to work in sketchbooks as she could draw beautifully, I was always so impressed that much of her work stemmed from walking in the countryside, observing, absorbing, feeling the power of a place. Back in the studio out that would flood into stunning abstract art quilts filled with presence and soul.

It is rare in the world to find someone who's truly on your wavelength, but when you mention in passing to someone that you're perhaps going to do some work with swallows, then weeks later she phones to say 'I've found a perfect dead swallow, would you like it?', you know that person understands and operates in the same way as you do.

That little bird she gave me was a real treasure and each time I look at the drawings I made from him and the quilts that I stitched I'll think of her and whisper 'thank you Marie'.

With my love,


  1. So sorry to hear about Marie. I only know her from DMTV and the blog. I want to extend my condolences to all who knew and loved her.

  2. Beautiful words Laura - thank you for saying it so well. I would like to add my own memories of Marie as wonderful tutor, who gave me a life to live as an artist - I would never have had that belief without her and I'm so so sad that I will not be able to spend time alongside her as I start the journey she enabled. Thank you Marie - Hilary x

  3. So sorry to read of the loss of your friend and fellow artist. However it must be some comfort to know she has left a legacy of beautiful work to be remembered by.

  4. Sad times. Thank you for sharing these words about Marie and her life.

  5. My heart goes out to you all in the loss of your colleague and friend. What a blessing she was in your lives; may her memory shine through the clouds of these sad days and bring you comfort.

  6. I met Marie only once at Linda's earlier this year, as SiX and Friends met to discuss our shows. She was lovely. Later, she readily offered her help when I was thinking of making a kimono; I was touched by her generosity. I find her passing deeply upsetting; I didn't know her well, but what I knew was impressive, and I felt privileged to be in the group with her; we are bound together with common interests and aims,and I find that bond to be strong and reassuring; it's not right she is no longer with us. I always feel great sadness when a creative person dies, but Jill's comment [above] is so good. Lovely words, Laura.

  7. Yes, you've said it beautifully Laura. Like Steph, I only met Marie for the first time at Linda's earlier this year. She had bought along a book called Japonisme showing not only Japanese art but it's connections and inspirations for other later artists. She sat in the chair next to me and we talked about the book, and our work for the Orientation exhibition. She did so in such an unassuming, gentle and encouraging way, and she immediately made me feel welcome and inspired. She must have been a brilliant teacher, and I know she will leave a great hole in Six, and SixandFriends. I feel sad that I didn't get the chance to know her better.

  8. Such a sad loss for you all. I never met her but admired her work when I went to the FoQ.

  9. How sad. I never met Marie, but knew her through alternativequiltlist, which I ran for a long time. She was unfailingly supportive... she will, I'm sure, be missed by many.