Jennifer Mathur

In memory of Jennifer Mathur 30/11/1936 – 22/12/2023

Jennifer Milnes was born into a troubled world; Germany was in turmoil and the Second World War was brewing. Just before the outbreak of war several notable artists fled the Nazis many coming to England. Their arrival had a significant influence on the English art world. Amongst those who came and stayed until the war was over was the Austrian ‘German Expressionist’ Oskar Kokoschka and it is clear from Jennifer’s earlier work that ‘German Expressionism’ and perhaps in particular Kokoschka had a profound impact on her development as an artist. Jennifer did not formally train as an artist, but her mother Margaret Milnes was an artist trained at the Slade and she would have been exposed to the world of art from her earliest years. 

Building on her expressionist influences Jennifer’s warm and passionate nature led her to express herself in her own innovative and unself-conscious way through her paintings and drawings. These included the people she knew, the landscapes she loved, and the flowers she tended. Her love of people is often expressed by their often-mysterious presence, whether in a landscape or garden painting. Life experiences also overflowed into her artwork such as her varied and adventurous travels, often unconventional, where she met some interesting characters along the way. 

Jennifer arrived in Ditchling with husband Sudhir, son Sunil, and daughter Jess in 1979. She joined her mother who in addition to her work as an artist also ran the Ditchling Gallery in the High Street. Later Jennifer, together with her sister Ann Raby and friend Zoe Randall, took over the running of the gallery.

Jennifer was part of the Attic Club, a local group of artists, and was also a founding member of the ‘Grey Ladies’ art group, a small inclusive group of lady artists, so named after Zoe Randall‘s house, itself named after its rooftops; where they met to paint and draw together, largely producing portraits of willing Ditchling residents. 

Although she was not a formally trained artist perhaps it was this ‘asset’ that allowed her to do her own thing, finding a visual path of expression within her own rules –a true creative, critical and yet still free spirit with a visual expressive talent. 

The artists of Art in Ditchling would like to dedicate this trail to her.