Denny Long obituary

Other lives: Artist and teacher of art known for her work in many media

My mother, the artist Denny Long, who has died aged 74, was well known in Bristol and Cornwall for her work in many media – painting, collage, etchings and prints.

In 1981 Denny was a founder of the group Women’s Art Works. She curated and took part in many exhibitions in Bristol including Broads Boards at the City Museum in 1995 and Swinging the Lead for the Festival of the Sea in 1996.

She was a member of the Royal West of England Academy, a member and committee member of the Newlyn Society of Arts and of the St Ives Society of Artists, and an associate member of Penwith Society of Artists.

Denise, known as Denny, was born in Bristol to Linda (nee Palmer), a seamstress and gardener, and Harold Johnston, a hot-air balloonist. After leaving Redland high school for girls, she attended the West of England College of Art and graduated in 1967. While still a student, she travelled overland to Japan via Russia to research Hamada pottery and ash glazing.

She was hugely influenced by her trip to Japan and the Zen Buddhist way of life. Almost all her art contained some elements of nature, whether it was the wool, feathers or bones for her weaving, or her interpretations of mountains and moons and images of pine trees in her etchings. Her style of design was always simple and calming to contemplate.

Denny taught art at Whitefield comprehensive school in Bristol (now Bristol Metropolitan Academy), soon becoming head of department, and organised many exhibitions there. In 1969 she married the landscape artist Richard Long, and in the late 1970s left her post to raise their two daughters, Betsy and me.

However she felt such joy in teaching that she started a children’s Saturday art class at Hotwells primary school which ran for 22 years, took on supply teaching at Colston’s girls’ school and Redland high school for girls, and ran evening adult learning art classes.

Her marriage ended in divorce in 1995. Having lived for 10 years on a Dutch barge in Bristol, Denny took it down to Penzance in Cornwall. In 1999 she gained a master’s degree in fine art at Falmouth University and found success in Cornwall as a professional artist.

In 2001 Denny moved to Zennor, where she enjoyed her vegetable garden, as she was a passionate and skilled gardener. She was also the UK representative of the Tibetan Refugee Nuns Project and dedicated herself to the cause of Tibet. She maintained a Buddhist meditation practice of Za Zen for many years and took much pleasure in being a cook for yearly retreats in France.

Denny restored a former pilchard cellar in St Ives, which became Westcotts Quay Gallery, with her partner, Jon Grimble. They were co-executors of the estate of the artist Sandra Blow after her death in 2006. Yearly they organised at least one exhibition of Sandra’s work, showing at the Tate and other galleries.

She is survived by Jon, by Betsy and me, and by two granddaughters, Mollie and Isla.

Tamsin Costigan

The GuardianTramp

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