The Life of Mary Kearns

Welcome to a timeline of my life. My name is Mrs Mary Gay Kearns, and I am an artist, painter and mother.

My son started off this timeline in the hope that I would finish it off. There is, after all, so much that I could put on this timeline - pictures of my children and grandchildren, for starters.;xNLx;;xNLx;And when I finally leave this earth, this timeline will remain here, always ready to tell the story of a life that was once mine.

Me at 16 wearing a dress

This is me as a carefree sixteen year old. I am wearing a dress that I made myself. I use to be really into sewing back then and even made my own Wedding Dress. My Mother ,Grace, taught me how to understand patterns and about the weft and warp in material. I even made Roger a tie in flowery fabric to match my 60's dress. Later I made lots of clothes for my children, including shorts and pyjamas for my son, Alex.

My beardy lover

I met Roger - my future husband - when we got chatting at work. I knew I liked him straight away but it took us a few months to get our act together.

My future husband

Roger Kearns - my future husband - was always very proud of his beard, as you can see from this picture of him as a young man. He lived at 36,Chestnut Avenue, Walthamstow E.17. I remember the house very well with its tall sash windows and green and yellow painted woodwork. We spent most weekends at Roger's house, especially as Gertie his, Mother, was usually visiting her sister Glad. Many hours were spent down Woodstreet and over Epping forest. We visited lots of places in London and also some of Roger's relatives and friends. I was always buying him Tobacco tins and he kept loosing them but I did not mind.


I was born on a cold day in February, at around 6 o'clock in the evening at the Wier Hospital, Balham.

Two Dark Eyes

Having married on the 21st of May, our first baby still tucked away inside me (and after a short stay with Roger's mother, Gertie, who was kindness itself) we moved into our first home: 15, The Maisonettes. Park Avenue, Bushey.

First Christmas as a Family

First Christmas celebrated together with a decorated Chrismas tree, Radio Four and mince pies. Our Baby was beginning to be interested in moving objects and was given a little crochet hanging figure which made her laugh. It was very magical as I ironed tiny vests and nighties and listened to a Radio play titled " A Mother Bearing her First Child ". Roger and I spent the day with our daughter and on Boxing Day, when the buses were running, Grace and Bill came to visit.

Childhood and my Art

I came from a creative home. My Mother, Grace, had painted a bit and kept scraps of paper and backs of cards in a kitchen drawer so we children (my brother, Richard, and I) could always explore our imagination.

A Son is Born

A bright sunny day in late August and about 4 o'clock in the afternoon I realised my second child would soon arrive.

Victoria Anne Kearns

Our small family had by now moved to a rather delapidated house- 67, Millway, Bushey. It needed quite a lot of work to be done and Rog had to balance that with his long hours on the milk.

New house New Baby-Elizabeth

Me being who I am, I persuaded Rog to have a look at a house advertised on the local notice board. This would mean no estate agent fees and the price was within our reach.

Art week at Wallhall (Devon)

As our children became more independant I decided to return to study and complete "A" and "O" levels badly neglected in my school days.

Chartres Cathedral

As an artist, most of my spare time is spent painting, drawing and making ceramics. I visit exhibitions every weekend with Roger and during the week with my art friend Ian. The attached photo is of Chartres Cathedral in France. I spent a few days there with Ian Poulton and took lots of photos of the inside of the cathedral and the stainglass windows. I like medieval architecture and sculpture and statues of the Madonna and child.

My Paintings and ideas in Art

After being very ill with Sarcoidosis which prevented me from continuing teaching at Chater Junior School. I returned to Hatfield, where I did my Art degree, to do some painting.

" Love " and other Poems

I started writing poetry when I was about 25 years old. Lines just came to me almost from nowhere. I wrote about a metaphysical journey and the things that I noticed on the way.

Ceramics and my Inspiration

From childhood I had always liked making things and trying to find solutions to practical, creative ventures.

Eric William Henry Ayton-Robinson - My Dad

On Sunday aftenoons or early evening, Dad would often say to me "come on Ducks do you fancy a walk down to The Cricketers", which was near Mitcham Common.

Lucky the black and white Cat

One day in the Spring Rog visited our shed in the back garden and returned indoors, very quietly, with closed hands. We (the children and I) thought he was going to frighten us with a big spider but there in his hands were three baby kittens.


Let friendship be, a thing of eternity, gathering, unto itself, the moments, and hours, of singular beauty, the shape of a flower, the turn of a phrase, the side of a page, of sheer delight, let it ramble in sight, over the moors, on paper boats, in the sun and shade, until one day, in silence, it stays.

Saying Goodbye to my Dad

Dear Dad (Bill) it is your funeral today Monday 14 of April 2008 at 1.30. Richard and I have done our best for you.

Jelly Moulds and slip-casting

Having enrolled in Ceramics "Open Studies" at Hatfield I had to decide on what I was going to make. At the beginning of the term we had a brainstorming session to extend our ideas on the chosen topic areas.

Press moulds

Press moulding is a technique in ceramins where you either roll clay over or into a plaster mould or press objects in to the clay. It is a very exciting process and easy to master. I made lots of press moulded decorative plates using an old cast from Herkomer House.The photo shows a plate using turquoise undergaze and Copper Red .

Slip Stenciling

After a talk at "The Potter's Guild" in Abbots Langley where a potter showed us a stencilling technique, I was inspired to use family snapshots, and 1950's Children's Book illustrations, photocopied and reduced in size to put on my slipcast pots.

Drawings of my Family

Having lots of baby grandchildren around to act as willing models, (although they never kept still unless they were asleep) I took every opportunity to fill my sketchbook.

Grace Emily Westbrook1918-1998

Dear Mum , I have been writing about Dad (Bill) and I want to say how much I loved you too. I remember you most standing in the kitchen whilst I hung on the door frame chatting continuously to you about all sorts of things.

Painting after my Art Degree

These are some of the paintings I did on the Open Studies course at U of Hertfordshire and at West Herts College, in Ian Poulton's classes.

Matisse On Art

Matisse wrote the following on the concept of painting (1910 approx). You are representing the model, or any other subject - not copying it: and there can be no colour relations between it and your picture: it is the relation between the colour in your picture which are the equivalent of the relation between the colours in your model that must be considered.

Four Stones

My husband Roger usually attends Chess Tournaments each year, usually held at various locations near the sea.

My best photograpic work

Some of my best photographic work, taken using a B/W film and an Olympus Om10 SLR camera. A few colour photos too. Mainly, Our Family.

Mary as a little girl

A selection of photos of me, taken by my parents when I was young.

Memories of Grace, My Mother.

I remember the drawer in our breakfast-room dresser. It was full of pieces of paper each one contained one of you dreams, a garden design, the beginnings of a story, a little drawing of a small girl with a turned up nose and curly hair (like yours), an idea for one of my dresses yet to be made, shopping lists, notes on how to manage the "teenage years", and lots of backs of Christmas cards.

Streatham ,school and the parks

My Infant's school was called Furzedown and Primary school Penwortham. From seven to eleven I simply had to cross the road and enter the school gates.Home for lunch and Mum not far away.

Bilingualism and Chater School

As part of my first degree, I completed a dissertation on "Bilingualism". The books I read changed my out look on language aquisition and the effects of something called "Subtractive Bilingualism".

Time, Space and the Image

A course at Birkbeck with the above title was taught by Carolyn Gill. This lady was one of the most intelligent and innovative lecturers I have ever met.

Turning Points in Painting

Learning to try and paint is a slow and unpredictable process. Any teaching has to allow space for the unknown to come into being and therefore certain aspects are ultimately unteachable.

My Aunty Elizabeth (Betty)Westbrook

My Mother's sister Elizabeth known to us as Betty, when children, was very special to me.

Discovering Gardening

We moved to Cassiobury to a four bedroom house with a large garden and kind neighbours.Pat and Dennis. In the1997 when I first became ill, with Sarcoidosis, Pat made me tubs of pretty flowers to cheer me up.

The Isle of Wight

My Mother's father, Frank, and his third wife Gwen and her Mother lived in a bungalow at Totland on the Alan Bay Rd.

Katie, Alex, Vics and Lizzie

By 1982 all our four children had started school and we were living at Cassiobury,near the park.

Grace and Mary (me)

When I was older you told me about the night your first boyfriend (Bill) was killed. He was shot down in his aeroplane at the beginning of The Second World War. That night you felt he come to say goodbye and saw his face leaning over your bed.

My Dresses made by Grace

My Mother made most of my dresses from the time I was a tiny baby, lying in my pram, until I was16 and able to make my own. She made nearly all her own clothes, usually shift dresses or ones out of crimpeline with short sleeves and fitted.

Books, Films, Music, Art

Eventually, I found the type of books and subject areas I could identify with. These were mainly on philosophy ,critical theory, artists and ceramicists, biographies about poets and writers. As for Film and Music these came gradually and changed as I did, or they changed me.

My Dad, a man of surprises

My Dad loved a bargain, Streatham High Road or Tooting Market where on Saturdays bargains could be had late in the day. Our house was full of an array of diverse investments often nothing matching but bought for their quality or quantity.

The Event that changed the world

On this ordinary day I had just given my friend a lift back from college and saw the events unfold on his parent's television. It was the most shocking image of my life time and seeing the second plane slice into the second tower was the realisation that this was an act of violation and terroism. No accident. We watched with horror as the towers fell and the deverstation that followed. It was a very different type of shock from when J. F. Kennedy was shot. I was 11/12 years old and holding my friend's baby in Penwortham Rd. John Lennon's death was a sadness but the Twin Towers was an assault on humanity. Creativity is a neutral quality but can be used for good or evil.

Our House in Penwortham Road

Our house in Penwortham Road was a three bedroomed terrace.There were two separate living rooms with the front kept for best.The back room, always sunny, with French doors opening onto the garden. In this south facing room was a pale blue carpet, an open fireplace with white mantlepiece. Here, Grace would listen to Woman's Hour on the radio with Fluff our large, long haired, cat on her lap. Here Richard and I played Cheat and Lexicon and Scrabble, which we did not like as we both read little at that time. Here Dad slept in the evenings after work. Here we watchet cricket and football on the small television set which stood in one corner away from the light. A square, extendable, table resided by the French doors, often with a vase of flowers from the garden, or the Frister and Rossman sewing machine or papers from the previous night's children's homework bedecking the surface. This room of activity was where we shared family gatherings. It was the hearth of our lives.

The Bicycle Rides

When Victoria was nine years old and the others younger and older we decided to ride our bikes to see Aunty Glad and Gertie at Staines. We had been out bicycling a lot as a family,taking our bikes to the Isle of Wight, Cassiobury Park and King Georges Park, in Bushey. Lizzie ,who was only 5 rode on the back of Roger's bike in a little seat.

Apollo 8 Christmas Day Lunar Orbit

On Boxing Day 1968, Roger and I were on our way home from Aunty Glad's house to Walthamstow. It was late in the evening and a clear night. We looked up into the sky and thought we saw the spacecraft " Apollo 8 " orbiting above. It was a magical feeling, thinking those brave men had got so far away from the planet Earth and were now looking down on all of humanity.They read the beginning of Genisis from Lunar orbit on Christmas Day. We watched it on the television at my home in Penwortham. It was very exciting and there was so much yet to be achieved in the space programme.

Dartmoor Hill

A poem inspired by a pink rock, shells and sea washed pieces of glass. All brought back from a Chess Tournament at Torqay by My Roger.

Our Children and Grandchildren

A collection of my favourite photos of our family through the years. They have all grown into unusual, intelligent, creative and sensitive people and I love them dearly.

The Woodland Project and Art School

( ST ALBANS AND HERTFORDSHIRE UNIVERSITY 1992-1997 ) SCATTERDALE WOODS . We stand together in a clearing, Sue Springett and I, and contemplate the space. We have to make it our own, the two of us. So the space must include all of you and all of me, neither must force their desires upon the other. There has to be equalibrium.

The Painting of Little Pot

I made a little pot, I made it out of clay, and on the side did stencil, the games I use to play. "Little Pot" was made from porcelain covered clay and fired to stoneware. On its side it has colbalt oxide stencilled figures and some heart shapes. It is covered in a shiny transparent glaze.

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