Former head of art at girls' school dies

PUBLISHED: 12:12 08 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:15 26 October 2009

Sylvia Molloy with her husband Pat

Sylvia Molloy with her husband Pat

ONE of the county's best-known artists, Sylvia Molloy, has died at the age of 93. Sylvia, a graduate of Durham University, was for some years head of the art department at Mater Dei School, in Parkway, WGC. She taught there in the 1970s.

ONE of the county's best-known artists, Sylvia Molloy, has died at the age of 93.

Sylvia, a graduate of Durham University, was for some years head of the art department at Mater Dei School, in Parkway, WGC. She taught there in the 1970s.

"She was a truly inspirational woman and a remarkable artist," said her son, Terence, a former editor of the WHT.

Sylvia, who passed away on Saturday of last week at a Letchworth nursing home, had enjoyed a most colourful and adventurous life.

She left England in 1940 and sailed to Burma to marry her husband, Patrick, who was stationed there. She was lucky to make it, as U-boats claimed several ships in her convoy.

In Burma she became a prolific painter, both of people and places. But in 1942 she had to escape to India, on one of the last planes leaving the country, to avoid the Japanese invasion.

On returning to England after the war, she and her husband and young family (two sons, Philip and Terence) emigrated to South Africa where she established herself as a highly-regarded artist and teacher.

While out there she flouted the Apartheid regime, teaching people of all races in the same class at her Johannesburg studio, for which she could have been jailed had she been found out.

Appalled by the regime, she came back to England in the mid-60s, and took up an art teaching post in Biggleswade, before joining Mater Dei.

All the time she continued painting and held many successful exhbitions in Hertfordshire and London. Her work was successfully exhibited at the Royal Academy and Paris Salon.

Sylvia's pictures have been bought worldwide and her book, Burma Bride, published in 1996, received notable success.

Her husband, who died in 2005, also had connections with WGC. He was an English teacher at Sir Frederic Osborn School, and taught one the Garden City's most famous sporting sons - Nick Faldo.

* Sylvia's funeral is on Friday at St Paul's Church, Letchworth at 3pm. All are welcome.


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