It is with great sadness that I must tell you that Past Master Sir Edmund Fairfax-Lucy, Bt., died on Monday having been unconscious for two weeks following a heart attack at his home. Normally, we would be standing for a minute’s silence in his memory at the meeting today, and receiving tributes from members, of which I am sure there would be many. I have asked PM Ian Archie Beck to contribute a written one, which you will find below. I have sent the condolences of the Guild to Ed’s family. We will miss him very much but long remember his unique contribution to our lives and his great abilities and dedication to painting.
Ed Fairfax Lucy and I joined the AWG in the same year, 1987. This was at the urging of Past Master Glynn Boyd Harte. We had all three been on a painting holiday in rural Brittany together. Ed was, among other things, our designated driver. We had rented a house at Sizun in Finistère, a small town free from distractions but with useful shops etc. The house had a large walled garden. We spent the month of June in 1986 painting, reading aloud, and often arguing there very happily. The good-natured arguments were usually between Ed and Glynn and were mostly about the exact tones of blue in the sky. This was measured by Ed by holding his circled thumb and forefinger up at the sky in order to ‘isolate the tone’. Canaletto’s use of black in his skies was another touch point as was the existence, or not, of Breton wine. Neither side ever backed down.
Ed was a perceptual painter of great subtlety. He mainly painted interiors, still lives, and the landscape around his home at Charlecote Park. In Brittany he was delighted to discover the Breton churches and their primitive carved and painted altar pieces called Retables. He painted many church interiors during that Summer. He had a tendency though to fuss and overwork his pictures. It was as if he was deeply reluctant to ever finish them. Glynn took on the role of the art police. He hid the paintings in various cupboards so that Ed couldn’t fuss with them.
Ed was very knowledgeable on all aspects of art, literature music and poetry. He liked nothing better than holding forth. The subjects might range from Hugues Cuenod’s singing in a Nadia Boulanger recording of Monteverdi’s Zefiro Torna, (which he treasured), to Fats Waller’s piano playing style, and his own experiences of and with Synaesthesia.
He embraced the role of Master at the Guild in very much his own style. He would start every meeting with a suitable poem which he read aloud. His commitment to the Guild during his year as Master and beyond was admirable. He was eccentric and generous to a fault. When driving along the lanes in Brittany he would suddenly raise his left arm as if to strike the passenger in the seat beside him. He gave no explanation for this until pressed when he admitted he was just saluting magpies. After eating a particularly large seafood platter at Concarneau he simply wiped his fingers through his then wild and bushy hair in lieu of a napkin. When some champagne was spilled on to a table-cloth he simply snatched the cloth off the table and wrung it out into his mouth. At the same meal a candle set light to part of his shirt so he simply threw himself to the ground and rolled down the steep incline to put it out. A whole book will be needed to properly record such moments. He will be greatly missed. They broke the mould when they made Ed.
PM Ian Archie Beck
Bro. Richard Sorrell has also written a beautiful piece in Ed's memory, which you can read here.
Here is a copy of Ed's Proceedings & Notes from his year as Master of the Guild in 2011, featuring a wonderful foreword - a brilliant reflection of him and his thinking.