At Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum Arts and Crafts Museum

William and Eve Simmonds

William Simmonds

William and Eve Simmonds made a reality of Morris's belief that art could be the visible expression of an individual's delight in work and the natural world.

William Simmonds spent four years in his father's architectural office, then from 1893 he studied painting at the Royal College of Art under Walter Crane.  From 1905, he worked for part of the year with Edwin Austin Abbey in Fairford, Gloucestershire.  Eve Peart studied art at the Slade under Walter Sickert, and was friends with Louise Powell.  Eve married Simmonds in 1912, and in 1919 they moved to Far Oakridge in Gloucestershire, near to where the Powells and the Barnsley brothers lived.

Although he had initially worked as a painter, William Simmonds is best known for his wood carving.  In the Cotswolds he watched and drew wild and domestic animals in their habitats.  Eve also appreciated the natural world, and produced embroideries often inspired by the plants in her garden and the surrounding countryside. 

The Simmonds also ran a successful puppet theatre.  William carved the puppets and painted the scenery, and Eve designed and made the costumes.  Mostly, William wrote the plays, but occasionally other playwrights like their friend John Drinkwater provided scripts.  During the 1920s and 1930s they held professional puppet shows, including a regular slot at the Grafton Theatre in London. 

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