Ethel Mallinson's Art
Ethel Mallinson was born in 1878 and died in 1970. From 1908 to 1948 she was Secretary of Leeds Fine Arts Society. Instead of taking photographs or keeping a diary she would paint and draw the places that she visited. In the early years of the twentieth century she recorded her travels both in Britain and abroad.
The Visitors' Book from Elmet Hall in Roundhay Park, Leeds, that was started in 1897, records a group of friends and relations who stayed there regularly. The most frequent visitor was Ethel Mallinson and she often drew sketches in the book. In 1918 she painted a picture of Beatrice Kitson riding her bicycle in the grounds of Elmet. She accompanied her painting with a verse from Rudyard Kipling:
'If you can fill the unforgiving minute
with sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a man, my son.'
Other artists also drew pictures in the Visitors' Book
and friends were encouraged to write a poem. Ethel Prowse, for example wrote the following:
The Ballad of Ethel II
Poor Ethel 2 to Elmet came
Hoping for peace and rest.
Alas! Her friends had other views
On treatment of their guest.
To make her feel at home at once
They teased her day and night;
They crushed and sat upon her till
She was a piteous sight.
She could not laugh, or frown, or sneeze,
Without some cruel jeer,
And when she tried to touch their hearts –
“So good for you, my dear!”
They laughed at all her little ways:
At cards, “Don’t show your hand!”
Tennis, “Why hold your racquet thus
I cannot understand!”
They kept her shut within their gates
And never did she see
That good-sized village they call Leeds
(I think it’s on the Dee).
This poem demonstrates the relaxed and friendly atmosphere that the Kitson family created in their home. Even after John Hawthorn Kitson died in 1899 the entertaining continued until the house was sold in 1919. Ethel and Beatrice often travelled together, both in England and farther afield. In 1916, when prevented from travelling abroad by the war they visited Dumfries in Scotland and stayed with the Rennies at New Abbey. A cycle trip south to Glencaple on the River Nith is portrayed by the boatman rowing them across with their cycles. This time the verse is from Milton:
'In those vernal seasons of the year
When the air is calm and pleasant
It were an injury and sullenness
Against nature not to go out and see her riches
And partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth.'
In 1909 they went to Belgium and visited a monastery near Heyst.
They also visited Malines in Belgium on the same trip.
In 1909 Ethel sent Beatrice a Valentine's card, as she often did. On this occasion it was a rather muscly Cupid carrying a post bag with a letter addressed to 'J.B. Kitson.
Ethel's pictures also referred to political events that were happening at the time. The owl in the picture is reading Beveridge's 1909 report on unemployment.