Mary Newcomb (1922-2008)


Mary Newcomb is known for her naive, primitive style of painting, depicting scenes of village life and community. Born Mary Slatford in North London, her family moved to rural Wiltshire when she was a child.

Her interest in nature motivated her to achieve a science degree at Reading University and  become a student helper at the Flatford Mill Field Studies Centre in Essex. This was established by the bird painter Eric Ennion in true 'Constable country'. Newcomb drew great artistic inspiration from this landscape she met her future husband Godfrey Newcomb whilst on a venture to protect the habitat of bitterns.

After her marriage, Mary Newcomb and her husband settled in the Waveney Valley between Norfolk and Suffolk. They lived a creative and idyllic rural life; they set up a pottery at their farm producing and selling ceramics in local craft shops, they kept chickens and spun wool from their diverse herd of sheep, whilst Mary painted incessantly.

Having sold her paintings for modest prices in Norwich for many years, Mary approached London art dealer Andras Kalman, which resulted in a dozen solo exhibitions at the Crane Kalman Gallery in the 1970s. As the notoriety of her charming and effortless paintings grew, she exhibited in Europe and America,  her works were bought by major public galleries such as the Tate.

Newcomb remained unaffected by the intense popularity of her work, and continued to record details of her rural life, often with poetic and humorous titles. She lived in many villages in Norfolk and Suffolk throughout her married life, and documented it all from minute flowers to infinite night skies. 

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