|SiX (at The Courtyard, Hereford) - From left: Bobby Britnell, Marie Roper, Catherine Nicholls, Linda Kemshall,Edwina Mackinnon and Laura Kemshall|
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,