Denise Hoyle

Walter and Denise Hoyle. Denise Hoyle at home in Hastings 2021.

Denise Hoyle was born in Paris in 1935, her parents were Italian. She grew up in Paris and studied at the L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière.  She was especially interested in natural history, early botanical drawings and the ballet. At the age of fourteen she began work as an errand girl for a milliner couturier in Paris. As a young woman growing up in the 12th arrondissement Denise would spend her days dreaming up imaginary costumes for the Théâtre du Châtelet.

Following a trip to Italy to visit family Denise took a six-month course in typing and shorthand and two jobs followed, first in an office in the La Borse district of Paris and then in the office of a company that imported chemicals from Germany.  During this time Denise took English lessons hoping to visit England at some point.

Aged 19 Denise, keen to improve her English, travelled to London in 1954 to become an au pair for a young boy Fairless, his parents Standish and Dodie Masterman lived in a large white stuccoed house near Regents Park. Dodie was an artist and illustrator and once Vogue model who had a passion for the imagery of the toy theatre. These new employers, friends of Michael Rothenstein, were keen patrons of the arts and they all travelled to Essex to see the first exhibition of “Great Bardfield at Home Artists”.  The Masterman’s were so impressed by the artist’s homes that they suggested Denise should return to visit the village the following weekend. So, it was here, only a few weeks after arriving in England, that she met Walter Hoyle impressed by his watercolours of Sicily. They decided to meet again at Lyons Corner House, Tottenham Court Road and were soon meeting regularly, they married a year later. The newlyweds moved to Great Bardfield in Essex where Denise became a close friend of Swiss textile designer Marianne Straub who moved from Braintree to Great Bardfield in 1953.

Walter already had a home at Great Lodge Farm near Great Bardfield and it was here that the couple began their married life together.

 Great Lodge Farm 1955. Great Lodge Farm pen and ink 1955. Great Lodge Farm watercolour 1956.

The view out of the front window of Walter and Denise’s home overlooked barns and the main farmhouse which had been neglected for many years.

In 1956 a move to Rosemary Cottage in Great Saling followed the birth of son James. Nina was born in 1960 and it was whilst the children were young that Denise began to make imaginative and beautiful collages working at the kitchen table. Denise continued to make collages over several years, later making more detailed work as illustrations for books for her two children. Her natural creativity also extended to pottery and painting

Collaged images for the story of Pinocchio, fifty images were made for this book, Denise then typed out the whole of the story on her typewriter.

Denise enjoyed creating Circus Scenes recalling the circuses she saw in France as a young girl.

Denise received no formal art training and was primarily self-taught producing collage books for her children and in 1960 was commissioned by the post office to design several posters. Apart from the Post Office posters the Collages were made entirely for the enjoyment of Denise and her children.

Two of the Post Office Savings Bank posters 1960.

In 1975 the family moved to a larger house at Bottisham which was nearer to Cambridge where Walter taught at the College of Art. Denise now learnt about ceramics at evening classes, where she made her pottery in the 1970s.

Denise and Walter were both fond of France and in 1983 bought a flat in Dieppe visiting whenever they could. When Walter retired, they bought a house in Hastings to be nearer to France, travelling on the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe. They sold the flat in Dieppe in 1992.

Walter died in 2002, Denise continuing to live in the house at Hastings.

Nina and Denise pictured at the Fry Gallery, Saffron Walden, 2020.

From the Fry Gallery website: The Fry Art Gallery was delighted to welcome Walter Hoyle’s widow, Denise, and their daughter, Nina, to the new exhibition Walter Hoyle – A Versatile Artist. They have kindly loaned pictures to the exhibition together with pots made by Walter and decorated by Denise, familiar to Nina from her childhood. It was a moving occasion for both of them and they were also delighted by the book to accompany the exhibition, for which Denise provided the Foreword.

Denise, a painter for many years, continues to paint, often painting flowers from her garden, and old ceramics, or found feathers and shells.

Paintings: Flowers from the garden.

Link to Great Bardfield Open House Exhibitions.

Link to Marianne Straub blog.

Marianne Straub

Link to Walter Hoyle blog.

Walter Hoyle

This blog has been cobbled from various sources but chiefly Emma Mason’s lovely book ‘Denise Hoyle – an artist at her kitchen table.’ The link to the book and the Emma Mason Gallery is here…

Graham Bennison,

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