Phyllis Ginger (1907 - 2005)

Self portrait, c.1937

SKU: 9731
Gouache on paper

Height – 17.8cm
Width – 12.7cm


The Artist’s Estate

Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, et al. Women Only Works on Paper. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p. 69.

Llewellyn, Sacha, and Paul Liss. Portrait of an Artist. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p.304.

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 – a career path that her parents had persuaded her to take – 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 Maude Llewellyn and Eleanor Durbin for assistance.

Copyright  for Phyllis Ginger is held by the Artist’s Estate, courtesy of Eleanor Henley and Paul Durbin.

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1907 - 2005

Painter, illustrator and etcher, born in New Malden, Surrey. She attended Richmond School of Art, 1932-35 where she studied under Stanley Badmin and the Central School of Arts & Crafts from 1937-39, where her main teacher was John Farleigh. Ginger was elected a member of the Senefelder Club in 1939 and joined the important AIA group of artists. Her ambition was to become a full-time illustrator, but during the war years she was retained by the Pilgrim Trust and her resulting work can be seen in the Recording Britain series.

Ginger exhibited at the Royal Watercolour Society, of which she became a member in 1958, the Royal Academy, New English Art Club. Phyllis Ginger designed and illustrated numerous book-jackets and books during the 1950’s and in the years immediately following World War II her work was reproduced in the Pictures for Schools series. Examples of her work are in the permanent collections of Washington State Library, Victoria & Albert Museum, the South London Art Gallery, Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, GAC, BM, BC and Museum of London. She was married to the silversmith Leslie Durbin who predeceased her by only a few weeks.
The Virgin of Aldermanbury: Rebirth of the City of London, illustrated by Phyllis Ginger. Published by J. M. Dent & Sons, London, 1958.
Alexander, the Circus Pony, written and illustrated by Phyllis Ginger. Published by Penguin Books: Harmondsworth & New York, 1943.
The Mushroom Pony by Joan Lamburn, illustrated by Phyllis Ginger. Published by Noel Carrington, London, 1947.
With thanks to


Phyllis Ginger (1907 - 2005)
Design for a Wedgwood Plate, circa 1944
Phyllis Ginger (1907 - 2005)
Design for a Wedgwood Plate, circa 1944
Phyllis Ginger (1907 - 2005)
Self portrait, c.1937