Tributes paid to the “tremendous” artist, Rozanne Hawksley

A formidable entertainer from Pembrokeshire with an international following who died aged 90, was remembered by colleagues and friends as an inspirational companion and a supreme talent.

Rozanne Hawksley was born in 1931 in Portsmouth and came from London to live in Newport in the 1980s with her husband Brian, joining a group of friends and other artists she had often visited, including the late Eirian Short.

She died at Withybush Hospital on December 30.

A textile artist who also worked in mixed media, Rozanne was widely recognized as one of the great innovators of textile art in the UK. She used the themes of love, death and war in what was considered subversive surrealism, which sparked controversy in the subtle horror worked into the intricate pieces.

Along with Eirian and Audrey Walker, she helped organize the making of Fishguard’s Last Invasion Tapestry and was also active on the Cwyaith Cymru committee, developing and supporting public art in Wales.

She has exhibited with the North Pembrokeshire Network of Sculptors at Bishop’s Palace St Davids and with the Fishguard Arts Society and has regularly contributed to exhibitions in Wales.

Rozanne has also exhibited in Europe, Japan and the United States as well as at the site of the Lodz concentration camp in Poland, at the Imperial War Museum, on HMS Belfast on the Thames, and more recently she presented a large installation in the Queen’s House Greenwich. Her work was collected both in the UK and overseas and she had an international reputation as an artist.

Rozanne is survived by both husbands and children and much of her work relates to her own lifelong experiences of loss and illness. Recently, she had been in discussions with the Wellcome Foundation regarding work related to the loss of her baby girl to thalidomide-related complications.

His work frequently used a variety of materials and skills to express his ideas and feelings.

Although increasingly suffering from poor eyesight and low mobility, Rozanne worked well into her 80s.

She was also an inspirational lecturer in the textile art department at Goldsmiths College London.

“Although her life experiences formed the often sober subject of her work, she was a stimulating and fun companion,” said fellow sculptor and old friend Denys Short.

Rozanne has been described by the Fishguard Arts Society as a “supreme talent” and a “controversial artist”.

“She was probably the biggest, grandest we’ve had,” the company’s Gaynor McMorrin said. “She was just something else. She was an international figure. It was amazing stuff she did. She was very, very important to the arts and to us.

“She was the loveliest of people, thoughtful and considerate. She was an amazing impersonator and had the brightest eyes.

Both Gaynor and Denys felt that Mary Schoeser, a leading authority on textiles, who wrote a book about Rozanne’s life and work, summed it up in these terms: “Rozanne was an artist formidable who broke down barriers through her mixed media work that provides a narrative about war and other world events, as well as the role and plight of women.

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