Mari Griffith
2 February 2024

Cicely Hey (1896–1980)

Mari Griffith

2 February 2024 | Minute read

Cicely Hey was active as an artist in London in the 1920s and 30s, when she was also a muse to artist Walter Sickert. She later settled in north Wales, where she began creating intricate terracotta figures.

Hey was originally from Faringdon in Oxfordshire and trained at the Brussels School of Art followed by the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Still there in her late twenties, she got to know Walter Sickert and became a friend and model of his. He was very fond of her and her ‘funny little beautiful sane dear face’ and painted her many times in the 1920s.

As an artist herself, she showed her work in various exhibitions in London during the 1920s and 30s: with the London Group, Women’s International Art Club, New English Art Club, and Society of Graphic Artists. Her first solo show, held in 1933 at the Lefevre Gallery, was called ‘Art Celebrities’ and featured portraits of the great and the good of the London art world, among them writer Roger Fry, artist Duncan Grant and Hey’s husband, Robert Tatlock, editor of the art periodical The Burlington Magazine.

She moved to Wales in 1941 and spent the second half of her life in Llysfaen near Colwyn Bay, overlooking the sea. Soon after arriving in Wales, she began making small, intricate figures dressed in carefully researched historic dress, all made with terracotta, wire and papier maché. These were exhibited in Wales and beyond and some are now in public collections.

HEY, Cicely
© Cicely Hey/Amgueddfa Cymru - Museum Wales

Sketchbook, HEY, Cicely © Cicely Hey

Mari Griffith is an art historian who has worked in the field of museums and galleries for 30 years, developing and overseeing learning and interpretation provision for public art collections and exhibitions, including at the National Gallery, National Gallery of Art and Royal Academy of Arts. Following a period working internationally on art and heritage interpretation, she is now a freelance writer, editor and translator – focusing mostly on art.


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