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Nan Heath 1922 - 1995

Nan and Frank outside Nan Heath Studio 4, Porthloo, St. Marys, Isles of Scilly

Nancy Lilian Heath (known as Nan) was born in north Staffordshire in 1922. She was educated at the Brownhills High School in the Potteries from 1935 - 1941 showing enthusiasm for every subject with a particular emphasis on art and music. Six credits were obtained for the Higher School Certificate of the Joint Matriculation Board.

For two years, 1941 - 1943, she attended the Hereford Teacher Training College, at the end of which she obtained her teacher training qualifications. After a further year gaining experience, she was appointed to a teaching post at Ellison Street, Wolstanton. There she served for 28 years, living at home with her mother in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.

Always keen on music, she enjoyed training school choirs which competed under the auspices of the British Federation of Music Festivals. Her choirs won first prize on two occasions.

In 1952, she was given permission for a year out of teaching in order to take up a year’s study at the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham Court. The experience proved most satisfying and helpful, allowing her to fine tune her natural talent and develop her own particular style.

It was in 1968 that Nan first came to the Isles of Scilly on holiday, her luggage containing her favourite brushes, watercolour paints and paper. Here she was entranced by the clear light and colour. Then in 1971 she went again with a friend and stayed at a guest house called 'Glandore' on St. Marys, run by Frank Smith and his sister, Gwen. To the surprise of both families, they fell in love and were married on December 27th 1971 with Nan coming to live on St. Marys in January 1972. Although her married name was Nan Smith, she continued to paint under her maiden name of Heath. Frank soon became resigned to being known to visitors as 'Mr. Heath' ....

Scilly inspired her to paint flower-filled watercolour landscapes and seascapes, characterised by a sensitive treatment of the effect of light and movement on the water. Not surprisingly, demand for her original watercolour paintings always exceeded the supply. So Nan and Frank decided to have prints produced to relieve the pressure, enabling Nan to concentrate more freely on her ideas. This led to the 1989 opening of Nan Heath Studio Four in the newly renovated granite Duchy barn very close to their home at 'Glandore'. The photo shows them posing proudly outside the new Studio.

One man exhibitions were held in the Potteries in 1975 and 1977, also another further show in 1990 shared with other artist members of the Society of Staffordshire Artists. Other exhibitions were held at the Isles of Scilly Museum in 1977, 1980 - 81 and 1984. In 1992, two original watercolours were accepted for the annual Royal Academy of Art Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London.

Sadly, Nan died at the age of 72 after a spell of deteriorating health which began with her breaking her right wrist in a fall in the garden. Her death, in July 1995, was greeted with shock and great sorrow on the islands and far beyond. In May 2009, her widower, Frank Smith, died after battling bravely with Parkinsons Disease and dementia for several years and was laid to rest with her in Old Town Churchyard.