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Issue: CC110
24th May 2023

Frames from a film

A life discarded

"Did She Fall Or Was She Pushed", Hermoine Burton

Google the name “Hermoine Burton” and there’s nothing. Or there wasn’t until her paintings were found, some ten years after her death, scattered across Bedford charity shops. Fortuitously, they were discovered by artist Andy Holden who bought them all, along with photos and a thin booklet; a self-published autobiography, “Hermoine Burton: A Journey Through the Paintings.”

This chance encounter has given Hermoine a voice after death. She is not only present through her paintings but through a 40-minute film by Holden in which a digital version of Hermoine tells her story alongside interviews with people who knew her, tracked down by Holden using her autobiography. The work was recently exhibited at The Gallery of Everything in Marylebone.

The Gallery of Everything (press pack)
Old Palladium (acrylic on canvas)
Hermoine’s Retrospective (oil on canvas)

It is a thought provoking collection – if our memories are held within objects then what happens to them when we are gone? What makes one person’s life story more important than another’s?

Hermoine (Quilter) was born in Aylesbury in 1925. From the 1950s-70s she lived in America, married to a serviceman. Homesick, she returned home to Aylesbury, moving to Bedford in 1979. Her life was plagued by illness, diagnosed as a child with rheumatic heart disease, surviving heart surgery twice and even temporary blindness. Her daughter, Jacqui, passed away unexpectedly.

Clockwise from top: Jacqui The Bride (oil on canvas), Going To The Hunt (oil on canvas), Untitled (Pianist, oil on canvas)
Pleasant Thoughts / Jacqui On A Plinth (oil on canvas)
Phoenix Rising From The Ashes (oil on canvas)

Hermoine began painting during her recovery from open-heart surgery and painted depictions of events in her own life. Her later works became more surreal and darker in tone.

Hermoine, in her own words, painted to “make something permanent out of the transient.” In the words of someone she knew, “She loved her paintings, they meant something to her, they were her life story.”

Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

All paintings by Hermoine Burton, presented for exhibition by Andy Holden.
(Backgrounds/arrangements by CC.)