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AN APPRECIATION OF MY SISTER'S ART (2008)

Over the years, readers of the Journal have come to appreciate the literary and artistic talent of Leo and Ulric Walmsley, and so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Leo’s offspring have inherited some of these traits. Margaret Walmsley was talented, too, and part of her legacy is a beautiful collection of water colours, pencil drawings, wood carvings , and knitted items that grace our homes. 

What’s interesting is how differently these abilities manifest themselves in some of the Walmsley offspring. For me, it’s nonfiction writing, and photography. For my daughter Katharine, it’s narrative and poetry writing [and photography, too!]. 

I recently spent some time with my ‘big’ sister, Anna (she still refers to me as her baby brother!), and was reacquainted with her particular talent, ceramics. The last time I visited her, she was doing her pottery in between managing a household and a vineyard, and I remember the blue owls and cats that seemed to be her trademark pieces. This time, I was in for a huge surprise. Anna still makes the blue owls and cats, and they sell to the tourists in neighbouring towns. But her pottery has taken on a whole new direction. For several years now, Anna has been volunteering on archeological ‘digs’ in France and northern Africa, and she’s become fascinated by early coinage (Roman, Greek, Celtic). So, she’s combined her life-long passion for ceramics with her new-found interest in antiquities to produce a unique and stunningly beautiful collection of ceramics, based on ancient coinage. 

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Not only that, she’s built—with her own two hands—a faithful replica of a Roman kiln, in which she’s been firing pots and plates that bear close resemblance to the original pottery created by the Romans.

Anna has been invited to display her ceramics at what are called “Expos,” exhibitions in galleries and museums, where visitors get to see her work mounted on vertical panels. Also, once or twice a year, Anna opens her house to visitors to come and see her ceramics, and place orders for items that she sells. I wasn’t able to visit one of her Expos, but I did photograph many of the panels as they hung in her house, as well as some of the hundreds of individual items she has created, both in her regular kiln, and the Roman kiln she built. These ceramics are, quite honestly, among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. In fact, I have a whole section of this website devoted to Anna's ceramics.

Ulric, Leo, and Margaret painted in oils and water colours. Anna ‘paints’ with clay. She embodies Leo’s passion for exploring the natural world and its history, but instead of writing and painting, Anna transforms her passions into beautiful medallions, plates, bowls, and vases. 

And yes, she’s still my ‘big’sister, and I’m still her ‘baby’ brother!

Sean Walmsley

March, 2008