Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Forgotten Art of Kathleen Bell

Kathleen "Kay" Bell, c1940
Kathleen Bell was a 20th Century illustrator whose work is now almost completely forgotten. She was also my grandmother and, if she is remembered at all, it is as the mother of, and major influence on, my father, the animator Richard Williams.

Kathleen "Kay" Bell was born on 19th May 1909, and lived in Toronto, Canada, where she worked as commercial illustrator. Of her vast body of work for newspapers and magazines, almost nothing survives.

All I have of her published work is the illustrations for one book, so long out of print that it doesn't even show up anymore as a listing at Amazon.com. A few years ago I managed to buy what was most likely the last remaining copy available for sale, and since then the listing has been deleted.