Diana Willis, a founder member of the organisation which set up the UK Cartoon Museum has died, aged 83.
John Jensen writes:
Diana was a daughter of the great cartoonist, H.M.Bateman and although not an artist she, through her father’s work, acquired a love and respect for cartooning. During the 1980s worked with Mel Calman, Simon Heneage and the other Members of the Cartoon Art Trust towards the formation of the UK Cartoon Museum.
Happily, the opening of the museum in her lifetime validated her enduring enthusiasm for the art.
Diana was a country woman. She loved tending her chickens, growing things: apples, figs, berries, vegetables, herbs. She was middle-class but totally without snobbery and full of quiet adventure. She once took one of her sons to a circus – the boy was 12 – and she volunteered to ride bareback. She was fitted with a harness (as always happens when a member of the audience rides bareback) the horse began its run, the harness was pulled and Diana hung in the air until the circuit was complete and she was returned to the horse’s back. This was the sort of action which a twelve year might remember for life with a mixture of pleasure and alarm.
When I was researching my book of H.M.Bateman drawings Diana revealed the family collection of originals, of rough sketches, of sketchbooks, watercolours and caricatures stored in one of Greenham Barton’s many rooms. This, around the early 1970s, was the beginning of a family friendship in which I came to love and respect Diana’s down-to-earth personality, her ability to produce wonderful food from her old-fashioned Aga and to admire the strength of her character. In company with many, many others, I am grateful that I knew her.
On Monday July 12 a Thanksgiving Service was held in Greenham church, a church so tiny that many relatives and friends could not all fit inside. Typically, Diana’s choice of music to follow the Blessing was The Padstow Lifeboat by Malcolm Arnold: a lively exit from the church.
Bloghorn thanks John for the words.