Jane Hughes obituary

My mother, Jane Hughes, who has died aged 89, was an artist and art teacher.

Born near Margate, Kent, she was the daughter of Cecil Sewell, a teacher, and his wife, Kathleen (nee Coldstream). She spent her early years in nearby Birchington-on-Sea, where her father was headteacher of a boys’ school. Then, in 1934, the family moved to Nottingham, where she suffered recurrent bouts of asthma due to the pollution of the city. In bed, ill, she found consolation in drawing and painting.

Jane was educated at Nottingham high school but during the second world war found herself evacuated to live with an aunt in the remote hamlet of Badcall in Sutherland in north-west Scotland, where she greatly enjoyed the wild countryside.

Nasturtiums by Jane Hughes, painted in 2000
Nasturtiums by Jane Hughes, painted in 2000

Once she left school she went to London to study painting at Camberwell School of Art. She drew and painted in a style clearly influenced by the Euston Road School of artists, and exhibited with the London Group in 1952. Afterwards she trained as an art teacher and taught part-time for many years in schools and colleges, including at Bedgebury Park school in Goudhurst, Kent, and then, in Bath, at the Diocesan school for girls, the Royal school and at an approved school for girls.

Jane met fellow artist Ken Hughes in London, and they married in 1954, evenutally moving to Bath and then Bristol.

In the 1970s Jane learned how to spin, weave and use natural dyes, thus putting to use her remarkable sense of colour. Her beautiful textiles were exhibited at the annual exhibitions in Bath of the Avon Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers.

In her 50s Jane was diagnosed with the auto-immune condition Sjögren’s Syndrome and her later years were affected by ill health. For many years she was secretary and treasurer of her local branch of the British Sjögren’s Syndrome Society and worked hard to support and inform sufferers of this little-known condition. For the last few years of her life she was also Ken’s carer.

She was a highly intelligent, cultured and articulate woman, who was also perceptive, generous and sympathetic.

Ken died shortly after my mother. She is survived by her children, Timothy, Edward and me, and four grandchildren, Tom, Peter, Oscar and Lily.


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