From the eyes of one who saw it all comes an insightful and fascinating biography on Elizabeth Studdert, a sculptor who deserves more recognition. Caroline Studdert explores her sister’s life and work, set against the backdrop of her childhood in wartime and postwar England, Minden in Germany, and Waterford, Ireland. It also details the struggle to carve out time and money for her passion, as opportunities for art were limited, and there was growing parental opposition – and the traumatic death of her brilliant naval engineer father when she was sixteen.
Delving into the complications of an Anglo-Irish heritage and stormy relationship with her mother, her supposedly unsuitable first marriage to a Roman Catholic and financial burdens, the book describes the many obstacles thrown in Elizabeth’s path and her determination to overcome them. Thumbnail sketches give a fascinating glimpse of Anglo-Irish relationships, including an incident with Elizabeth’s father and the famous Augusta Gregory after whom Elizabeth is named; her father’s family background; her mother’s turbulent history; and a slightly feudal Waterford aristocratic society where the Studderts are ‘foreign’ interlopers.
The reader is also treated to an array of Elizabeth’s work, from an initial focus on portrait heads to the whole figure, to an exploration of more abstract shapes. Today she lives near Aylesbury in a small house designed by her son, when she is not in Scotland. With lavish illustrations and a behind-the-scenes look at the passion and difficulties this extraordinary sculptor has dealt with, Against the Odds is a story not alone of art, but life on a truly relatable and inspiring level.