Rebecca Fairman obituary

My stepdaughter, Rebecca Fairman, who has died aged 59 of lung cancer, had a distinguished career as a graphic designer before turning to the world of fine art, becoming a ceramic artist and successful gallery owner.

Rebecca was born in north London, the daughter of Sheila (nee Pratt), a painter, installation artist and art school lecturer, and the painter David Tindle. She lived her formative years in Croydon, south London, leaving Monks Hill high school at 16, much to the dismay of her mother, who had hoped she would go on to art college. Instead, Rebecca set out on a career in graphic design, making rapid progress in the profession, setting up her own company, Rebecca Fairman Design, in her late 20s with a studio in Shoreditch, east London. Her success enabled her to move from her flat in Crystal Palace to a large, grade-II-listed townhouse in Bermondsey in 2000.

Ceramic sculpture by Rebecca Fairman
Ceramic sculpture by Rebecca Fairman

Seeking new outlets for her creative flair, she enrolled as a mature student at Camberwell College of Arts, part of the University of the Arts London. She graduated in 2009 in fine art ceramics.

With her business ticking over, she focused on her sculptural ceramics but, like all developing artists, found it difficult to break into the art market. With her customarily imaginative response to problems, seeing them rather as opportunities, she decided to set up her own gallery. In 2014, ArthouSE1 was born, a domestic gallery on the open-plan, airy top floor of her home.

Ever the professional, and caring more for the art community at large than for herself, she never used the gallery to show her own work but to promote the work of other artists struggling to establish themselves. Openings, finissages, artists’ talks, symposiums and art walks placed the gallery at the heart of the cultural life of Bermondsey.

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Somehow she managed to find time for her own art, producing work of emotional depth, reflecting personal and universal stories of childhood and the human condition with a delicacy that seemed to transcend the nature of the hard ceramic material.

Her death saw the closure of ArthouSE1 and the premature termination of its final show, Dear Christine, a mixed touring exhibition that was a tribute to Christine Keeler.

Rebecca is survived by her partner, Adrian Hicks, her parents and me, and her three brothers, Robert, Jonathan and Sean.



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