Peg Smythies (born Margaret Britton) was an artist and designer throughout her life. As the daughter of a velvet merchant she understood much about the technical processes of fabric design and how to turn her creative flair to practical use. She started painting at an early age and after three years at Cheltenham School of Art (1939-1942) she attended the Royal College of Art, which was based in Ambleside during the war, where she won a silver medal for painting and a fourth year travelling scholarship in 1946 which she took in Italy and Sicily.
In 1947 she married Francis Holterman, also an artist, and after several years of teaching drawing, painting, crafts and dress design in various colleges she worked, in the late 1950's, as the chief designer for Charnos for their newly formed lingerie department.
At the end of the 1950's she married Barry Pink, an inventor and designer,working as development director, fabric designer and printer at his factory based at Shannon Airport.
During the 1960’s she took up painting again, her style shifting considerably. During this time she produced The Doves, a picture book with accompanying poem – collaborating with her 3rd husband Yorick Smythies (a student and friend of the philosopher Wittgenstein) - about their young son Daniel and his cat Brindl, at the same time designing clothes and fabrics and teaching art again part-time.
Her immense knowledge and interest in architecture moved her into architectural restoration, working with skilled craftsmen to renovate houses throughout Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire which she continued, with her son, until well into her 80's
Throughout this time her painting style (mostly in oils) continued to develop, producing work that shows her drawing skill, interest in nature (especially birds) and the human interactions around her.
During her lifetime her work was rarely seen, as she preferred to show her art only to close friends and family but now, after her death in 2014, it feels ready for her talent to be fully appreciated.
She leaves behind a lifetime of paintings and drawings in a variety of styles. Her collection also includes porfolios of fashion designs, fabric (mostly on velvet) and soft toy designs, sketch books and her children’s book 'The Doves'.
Detail from The Doves 1968
Margaret (Peg) Britton/Holterman/Pink/Smythies/Rush-Rhees
1924 16 July Margaret Britton was born in Rusholme, Manchester
1935-9 Attended Withington Girls’ School, Manchester
1939-42 Attended Cheltenham College of Art, passed the Board of Education Drawing Exam in 1941 and then specialised in painting. “outstanding student with a large output of first-rate work. Her drawing was vivid, and her colour sense highly developed…..She is a particularly nice person with an attractive personality” (ref: Testimonial dated 13:05:48 from A Seaton White B.Sc, Principal Ceheltenham School of Art St Margaret’s Rd Cheltenham)
1942-5 Royal College of Art: painting prize RCA 1944; ARCA = 8 July1945; Silver Medal 1 and drawing prize plus 4th year continuation scholarship 1945 ( Percy Hague Jowett- principal- wrote of Miss Margaret Britton “….she is an artist of ability and has considerable experience in all branches of her profession. In my opinion she will make an excellent teacher and I can recommend her with confidence” ) The RCA School of Painting in Ambleside during the war was taught by Gilbert Spencer, Percy Horton and Charles Mahoney.
1946 RCA travelling scholarship taken in Sicily, Rome and Florence
1946 Taught at Glendower School Kensington part-time
1946 Free lance designer for Horrocks
1946-47 Sept 46 – July 47 Chichester School of Art – full time teacher of general art subjects. C G Clements ARCA Principal wrote “…her painting and draughtsmanship I found to be of a very high standard, and she was also a most capable instructor in dressmaking, fabric printing and weaving. Mrs Holterman quickly gained the confidence of the students and their progress was apparent. I consider Mrs Holterman to be an excellent teacher of pleasant personality and one who is prepared to enter wholeheartedly into the corporate life of the school”
1947 Married Francis Royston Holterman(n)
1947 1 July 47 to 26 Nov 47 part time teacher at Gravesend School of Art
1947 Freelance designer for Rembrandt dresses
1948-49 Taught full time at Lady Margaret School, London SW6
1948 Taught at Barrett St Technical College
1950-51 Awarded British Traders Design prize £350
1950 Freelance designer for Sandersons
1951-53 Taught at Stoke on Trent College of Art – dress and textile design specialist
1953-55 Taught at School of Arts and Crafts, Stroud,Glos – embroidery, glovemaking, weaving, fabric printing and general art, dress design and painting. From Easter ‘54 she concentrated on dress, millinery, soft furnishing plus portrait and still life painting. Robert Ball ARE, ARCA said “Mrs Holterman is incredibly versatile and achieves a remarkably high standard in her work. She holds high qualifications with notable distinctions and has had wide experience. She is well liked by everyone here and has been a considerable help to me in developing this school”
1956 Appointed full-time teacher at Barrett Street Technical College London. Gwilyn Jones ARCA wrote (for a reference for her for this job) “ Mrs Holterman is a brilliant inspiring teacher. She knows her subject thoroughly and has the power of……..in a manner at once interesting and productive. Her students have expressed their feelings of gratitude in being under a teacher of such capability. She is a first class dressmaker and dress designer as well as being a practical designer of textiles. One of her salient characteristics is this sound practical ….in all she does. She is also a very able painter. She has a pleasant manner and a cultured mind. I recommend her to you very highly indeed for I know that any duties which may be allocated to her will be carried out to the best of her very considerable ability”
1957-59 Chief designer for Charnos Ltd (lingerie dept.)
1959 Married William Barrington Pink
1959 – 61 Development director, textile designer and printing for W.B. Pink Ltd Shannon Airport, Ireland.
1963 Her only son Daniel was born in Oxford (his father was Yorick Smythies)
1963 Appointed part-time teacher at North Oxfordshire Technical College and School of Art
1974 Married Yorick Smythies (using the name Margaret Smythies)
1985 Married Rush Rhees Jr
2014 Died 30th May