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Like Mother, Like Daughter Two Gifted Local Artists

From the Barwicker No. 109
March 2013

I first came across this family in the census when I was looking for unusual entries. Some of the children in the Young family were given unusual names viz Daisy, Violet, Pansy Blossom, Snowdrop and Heather; the boys were Fred Archer, Herbert Gladstone, Sullivan and Corbett Mitchell and Thomas.

William Young Kirk Young and his family moved from Harrogate, where he had worked as a watchmaker and jeweller, to a house named New Zealand at Lotherton about 1885/6. It is believed that William inherited the property from his father. There were originally two parcels of land called 'Foxholes' and 'Myers Close'. As far as Heather knows her Grandfather had two cottages built on the land and at one time there were other cottages with 30 people living in them. No one seems to know the origins of the name 'New Zealand' but it is thought by the family that it could have been due to the fact that it was built around the time many people were emigrating to New Zealand.

William's daughter, Heather, was a gifted artist and produced many fine works which were exhibited at the Prince of Wales' charity exhibition of Works by Living British Artists and also the Society of Yorkshire Artists. She trained at the Leeds Academy of Art under Thomas Ramsden and Ernest Forbes (the latter being one of the Attic Abode artists). Heather had a studio next to St Wilfred's Roman Catholic Church in Aberford and she was one of the people involved in the decorating of the interior of the church. Her father encouraged Heather to paint and made sure that she showed her work at various exhibitions. However he would not allow her to sell any. Upon marriage to Harry Tempest Walker they moved to Lewisham, London, where her daughter also named Heather was born. During the second World War the family moved back to "New Zealand" and Heather concentrated on caring for her family.

Heather Walker, their daughter, and also an artist in her own right, had a happy childhood in rural Aberford, no doubt inheriting her artistic talents from her mother. As a child Heather, the daughter, hated school and any excuse to play truant found her heading for the stable to ride her pony.

Heather still loves animals as can be seen from the array of hens, ducks etc. now housed at "New Zealand". As a child she had her own miniature zoo complete with monkey!

When Heather had to seriously think about a future career she told her art teacher she wanted to go to art college. This did not go down very well and the teacher replied that Heather would be better working with horses in some stables. Not to be deterred by such lack of encouragement Heather got her application together and without saying anything to her teacher applied and successfully got a place at Leeds College of Art before transferring to the West of England College of Art in Bristol where she obtained the National Diploma of Design and the Art Teacher's Diploma.

Her first job was designing toffee wrappers for Cadbury's at Bournville which she admitted was rather routine and boring. Along with other artists working in a large art department Heather would submit her designs. On her return to Yorkshire she opened the Demi Luce Studio which was the lodge adjoining the almshouses in Aberford. Downstairs consisted of two very small front rooms one containing an old range. There was a little pantry and a tiny kitchen with cold water only. At the back there was a small toilet but no bathroom. Upstairs there were two little attic rooms. There was also a bell which would ring when the gates were required to be opened. Surprisingly quite large families had been previously brought up in the lodge. Before Heather took over the tenancy an elderly single lady lived there on her own. She married and initially the couple lived there before moving to a cottage in Aberford. Prior to Heather taking it over at a peppercorn rent (courtesy of Sir Alvary Gascoigne and the Almshouses Trust) it had been empty for some considerable time and was not in a very good state of repair. Eventually a property developer purchased the Almshouses but refused to separate the lodge so Heather had to leave.

Heather then worked freelance designing Inn Signs for Samuel Smith's brewery in Tadcaster. (See illustration across) This was a huge task as it involved not only the design and painting but making an exact replica to go on the reverse of the sign and in some cases the pub would want two such signs, one for the front and one for the back or side of the premises. They all had to match and according to Heather it was a very difficult job to cost. She combined her sign design with the running of her studio in Aberford.

Heather loves to portray colour, animals, wildlife and natural history in her paintings which are usually produced in watercolour and mixed media. She has exhibited at Mall Galleries (London), the Ferens Art Gallery (Hull) and Woburn Abbey. A regular exhibitor to the Holmfirth Art Week and the Wetterburg Art Loan Scheme. However, art comes second in Heather's life as along with her partner, Eddy, her love of all creatures is predominant in her life.

In August and September 2012 Heather exhibited both her own and her mother's work at an exhibition at Lotherton Hall. From her mother's collection were miniatures and paintings of the old mill at Aberford. However also on display at Lotherton was a still life from her mother's collection which in the 1930s had been exhibited by special invitation to local artists for an exhibition organised by the Prince of Wales. Heather showed some of her beautiful colourful collages which portray local scenes as well as birds and animals. It was well attended and enjoyed by all who visited.


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