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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bebb

Charlotte Mayer FRSS, 1929 - 2022

Supremely gifted sculptor, wise, gentle and loyal friend, Charlotte Mayer, has died. Those who met Charlotte and enjoyed, admired and purchased her sculptures here over 28 years, will, I’m sure, feel sadness at her loss. Sentinel, pictured here, was cast for my 2018 exhibition, The Unattended Moment. I first encountered this quiet sculpture in Charlotte’s peaceful studio, with its air of reassurance that, surely, all must be well with the world? Delicate, it nevertheless emanates strength, serenity and poise, like so many of Charlotte’s sculptures.

Sentinel (bronze, ht. 80 cms, unique, © Steve Russell courtesy Gallery Pangolin)

I was honoured to be asked by Charlotte’s daughters to give a tribute at her funeral. Here is an extract -

“It was in 1995 that I first knocked on the door of Charlotte’s home, to be greeted by a welcoming smile and one of the most beautiful sculptures I had ever seen. It was the start of a unique friendship with one of those rare and special people who, if we are fortunate, come into our lives and enrich us immeasurably forever, even when we can no longer meet, talk and enjoy each other’s company.

I cherished my visits to Charlotte. Always the warm welcome, a bowl of soup offered between cupped hands, and time spent in the still sanctuary of the studio, a garden room full of light and beauty.

Charlotte once gave me a tiny sculpture, Journey, a subtle evocation of the flow and the ebb of life. Perhaps The Thornflower, Charlotte’s magnificent creation for peace and reconciliation inspired by the death of her beloved grandmother in Treblinka, was the pinnacle of our sculptural journey together. The Thornflower was first shown in the garden of my gallery 17 years ago; the admiration it received prompted Charlotte to say, “the atmosphere was full of light and harmony … I felt like a cream-fed cat by the end of the day”.

Over the years The Thornflower was exhibited in several cathedrals, touching people’s hearts, minds and souls, and provoking thought through what Charlotte called duality, expressed in the juxtaposition of soft petals and brutal thorns. Charlotte spoke about it in Salisbury Cathedral, prompting a friend to comment on how what she called “the most powerful words” brought about calm and quiet amongst the young people Charlotte addressed. Its final destination was Coventry Cathedral, with its vibrant mission for peace and reconciliation. Charlotte was overjoyed when the Dean, John Witcombe, accepted her offer of The Thornflower as a gift to the Cathedral.

Charlotte once wrote to me of her love for the work of Rothko, Morandi and “dear old Brancusi”, adding, “there are so few artists whose work lifts the heart … both Hepworth and Rothko had that ability and we are all richer for their work”. I’m sure we would all agree that this also applies to Charlotte Mayer.”

The Thornflower (bronze, donated by Charlotte to Coventry Cathedral, photo ©Steve Russell courtesy Gallery Pangolin)

You can read a brief biography of Charlotte on the website here.

Rachel Bebb


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