Felicity Powell (1961-2015)

From an obituary in The Guardian by Marina Warner:

“…Felicity was an elegant, thoughtful, fascinating presence in any gathering, and she liked to stand tall – once, when I met her at an opening, she was glorying in new six-inch platform heels. Though she was unassuming about her own status, she had decided taste about that of others. She had a fierce wit, and a vivacious sense of pleasure and mischief. She also had an unusual and poetic imagination, and great curiosity about lesser-known corners of mythology and art.

Born in Woolwich, south-east London, Felicity was daughter of Thomas, an engineer, who had been in the RAF in the second world war, and Laurel (nee Rice). She went to Plumstead Manor School, graduated from Falmouth College of Art in 1983, went on to the Royal Academy in London to study sculpture, and won a Gulbenkian scholarship to the British School at Rome (1986-87)…

For Charmed Life: The Solace of Objects, the show she curated in 2011 at the Wellcome Collection, she designed and built a horseshoe-shaped illuminated vitrine to display a shoal of lucky charms (keys, shoes, a stuffed mole, more horseshoes). These English magical objects came from a vast collection – 1,400 items – of amulets (objects supposedly protecting from harm) and folk remedies found mostly in London by Edward Lovett, a civil servant, in the early part of the 20th century…

When she died, Felicity had just completed a medal for the 50th anniversary of St Cross College, Oxford, and another in praise of amateurs who work for conservation, commissioned by the Linnean Society. She was also working with (Lauren) Bon on a vast installation of a tree to be hung upside down in a silo in the desert in California – a monument to the drying up of water sources.

Felicity did not have faith in providence or in an external scheme of salvation, but she did invest something like belief in the act of making art, and she made it with rare subtlety, insight and meticulous skill…

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