1936 - 1999 (63 years)
||Elly Knuckey |
|Eby ID Number
||12 Jun 2019 |
|Born - 1936 - , England
- Thrift store discovery leads to local folk artist
New Hamburg Independent
By Brenda Murray
When Margaret Schmidt found an old painting for $12.50 in a thrift store last month, she wanted to do more than just hang it on her wall. The Kitchener resident wanted to know the story of where her new painting came from.
Aside from our children, very few of us "regular folks" get the opportunity to leave behind a legacy. Artists are the exception. Even long after they're gone, their work lives on....
That means that tracing the history of an obscure portrait by a deceased New Hamburg folk artist called for some determined sleuthing.
Who was Elly of "Elly's Studio," formerly located at 276 Jacob Street, New Hamburg? What was her story? Is she still alive? What other art did she do? These were the questions posed to the New Hamburg Independent by Schmidt after she purchased the pastel portrait of a violinist. The piece is titled "Wisdom" and is dated 1985. There is also a companion portrait of a woman holding a guitar with a white cat on her lap called "Harmony" and also dated 1985.
Talking to long-time residents of Jacob Street, we discovered that the artist was Elly Knuckey (1936-1999) who raised a family at that address and sold her art to an appreciative local community. In addition to pastel portraits, she also painted scenes on steel milk containers, did stenciling, oil paintings, crafts, and restored painted furniture and antiques....
Thrift store discovery leads to local folk artist. (2016). Webcache.googleusercontent.com. Retrieved 22 May 2016, from https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:nL0YDypxNdAJ:www.newhamburgindependent.ca/community-story/6558048-thrift-store-discovery-leads-to-local-folk-artist/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca
New Hamburg Independent
This is in response to the article that you published about the local folk artist. I would say that I probably have one of the biggest collections of art work from Elly's Studio in New Hamburg. I am proud to that say that Elly Knuckey was my mother, and not a day goes by that I do not miss her. She was an amazing person. Some people would say that she was eccentric. From her I learned that it is okay to dance to a different tune.
My friends linked the article to my Facebook, I was surprised to see an article on my mother this many years after her passing. But I am happy to see that other people are still getting the joy out of her paintings. Here are some of the answers to the questions that you had.
She started painting at age 11 and took lessons from Mr. Gibb in Galt. He was the one that entered her forest scene into an adult competition, in which she won first prize. In her early 20s she tinted black and white photographs to colour and painted teapots in her spare time. She took a break when she started raising a family and only painted for fun.
It was not until she was faced with raising two kids on her own that she decided that she would try making a living by painting. She started doing restoration work for antique dealers as well as temporary window paintings for Christmas and other occasions. I also thought it was a shame that they had to remove them from the windows.
She did a portrait of me when I was in my early teens and entered into the New Hamburg Fall Fair. Wasn't I surprised when she won first prize (not because of her ability but the subject)! She did the graining work at the grocery store at Doon Heritage Crossroads and some restoration work at Castle Kilbride in Baden.
She started painting things around the house and decided to put them on our front lawn when the Mennonite Relief Sales was on, and to her amazement she sold them all. This was the start of Elly's Studio and the yearly tradition of an Elly's Studio sale on our front lawn. She would start painting things to put out at the Mennonite Relief Sale right after the last sale was over and painted all year to get ready for the following sale. It would amaze me how she could fit all the items that she painted into the front room.
She had customers that would stop in every year. She sold pieces that went to Nova Scotia, USA and Germany. She also did a lot of custom items for people, she would paint pieces that the customer would supply or painted a special picture such as farms, pets, and houses on any item that you wanted.
The question 'what did she paint?' should actually be 'what didn't she paint?'. She gave new life to items that most of us would think are ready to be thrown away. She painted milk cans, pails, frying pans, saws blades, orange rates, any wooden items. She painted everything and anything. She had the ability to look at an item and see what she could do to it. To my complete horror she even painted her car to resemble fine-wood grain. Looking back at it now she did a really good job, but being a teenager at the time I didn't think so. I can tell you I got some looks when I had to drive it into Kitchener to get the muffler fixed.
You are correct that she leaves behind a legacy of folk art, but to anyone that knew her she left more than the legacy. I am so proud of her and everything that she was able to overcome but most of all for being the mother that she was.
Artist Elly Knuckey was my mother. (2016). Newhamburgindependent.ca. Retrieved 2 June 2016, from https://www.newhamburgindependent.ca/opinion-story/6699760-artist-elly-knuckey-was-my-mother/