In the journal she kept of her family’s voyage to the West Indies in 1924, Hephzibah Watson described Hope Gardens in Kingston, Jamaica as “a veritable fairy land. Such curious things some of [the trees] are.” When I came across a small battered sketch book in the archives, at first I thought I had found her pictorial record of that trip. There are certainly some curious tree drawings, patterned with age:
However, I soon realised that the place names given in the captions don’t match – these two specimens are from the Canary Islands. Other sketches and watercolours also carry dates, most of which are from the late 19th century; the places vary, from Monaco to Gibraltar and, closer to home, the Isle of Wight. The sketchbook was amongst Auntie’s things so may well have been the work of Hephzibah, her mother; or perhaps it belonged to her friend Elsie Fry. There are no signatures or initials so I may never know. The pictures are quite accomplished, demonstrating the kind of skills that such genteel ladies acquired as a matter of course in those days. So, in the absence of any background story for this object, I’ll let the pictures tell their own stories. Enjoy the show.