Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, et al. Women Only Works on Paper. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p. 68.
This brutally honest self-portrait can be dated to Phyllis Ginger’s student years at the Central School of
Art, where, having been awarded a scholarship, she studied under William P Robins. She had recently
left her civil service clerking job ‚Äì a career path that her parents had persuaded her to take ‚Äì and
had cut her long auburn hair short. Leafing through a sketchbook, and engaging the viewer with a bold
and penetrating gaze, Ginger asserts herself as an independent artist. This is a rare self-image; Eleanor
Durbin, the artist’s daughter, declared that portraying friends and family members was much more in
Ginger’s character. She was interested in recording others and was more generally self-effacing about
her own image on paper’.With her heart set on a career in illustration, Ginger became a member of
the Senefelder Club in 1939, and during the war produced work for the Recording Britain project. In the
1950s she illustrated numerous books and exhibited etchings with the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers
and Engravers and at the Royal Academy.
Although Ginger made designs for Wedgwood plates, and 17 preparatory sketches are in the collection
of the Imperial War Museum, no designs went into production. During the war, supplies of paper were
limited, and the brown discolouration of this proof is due to the paper’s high content of acidic wood
We are grateful to Eleanor Henley for assistance