Whicker, Gwendoline J. (1900-1966)

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Gwen Cross was born in Bristol in 1900, the daughter of a painter and decorator. She studied at Bristol's Municipal School of Art, paying her way by undertaking medical drawings for Bristol University. Alongside art she also took an interest in working with silver, particularly jewellery and cutlery, and this interest continued throughout her life. After art school she gained a teaching qualification and then returned to Bristol Art School as a teacher. It was here at an evening class that she first met her husband Fred. Most of her early works were prints, particularly etchings, which she exhibited at the annual exhibition of the Royal West of England Academy every year from 1923 until 1935. During the 1930s she also produced a series of major oil portraits and still lives.

Gwen and Fred were founder members of the New Bristol Arts Club and Gwen became its first president when it was established in 1933. The group regularly exhibited at the Royal West of England Academy. Gwen also exhibited at the Society of Women Artists exhibition (June 1934) and the Royal Institute, Piccadilly. Gwen and Fred moved to Falmouth in the 1940s where they became well-known figures. Gwen was a Governor of Falmouth School of Arts (now University College Falmouth) and also taught there part-time. Throughout her life she continued to work with silver and sold in shops in Bristol and then Falmouth. Sadly she never made much money from her work but the couple did manage to survive on their art. Gwen's and Fred's work, although of a high standard, was simply not fashionable or progressive.