By Deborah Shepard
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Extra resources for Between the Lives: Partners in Art
The early letters to Bethell suggest that most of her ‘spare’ time was occupied with the practical arts associated with feeding and clothing her family and improving her surroundings. Even so, she continued to draw and paint in the early years of her marriage. Edith’s correspondence with her father, Joseph Alexander, from the early 1920s until well into her married life, contains many references to painting. Even in 1944, he was writing to her: ‘Your intentions in the matter of painting appear (to me) to be in the right direction and order .
But perhaps the chief example available to her, that of her husband, was rather overwhelming. Edith had talent and the will to work, but Toss’s original style and vision, and his commanding ego, may have been an obstacle to her capacity to forge a path of her own, especially in her demanding domestic situation. By the late 1940s toss was reviewing his work prospects, hoping to find a job that offered more flexibility and a higher income. In November 1949 he gratefully accepted a new opportunity – a dealership in Rawleigh health and household products in Greymouth.
His father was an accountant and his grandfather, William Ferrier, was a professional artist and photographer in Timaru: ‘We grew up with [William Ferrier’s] paintings on the walls, and at holiday times visiting my Grandmother’s house in Timaru . . ’15 As a child, Colin’s interest in art was encouraged, and the whole family – parents John and Ethel, and their children Beatrice, Colin and Jim – would regularly visit the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, local dealer galleries and travelling exhibitions.