The Edith Simon Gallery

Photo of Edith and signature

In her own words

Chess Piece

Edith was born on 18th. May 1917 in Berlin, Germany where her family had lived for generations. Her father Walter Simon was a much decorated cavalry officer in the First World War, and a prosperous business owner in peacetime. Her school was The Furstin-Bismark Gymnasium where she received a good liberal education, and excelled at art and history. In 1927 at the age of 10 her drawings were first published in a newspaper.

As the political climate in Germany became increasingly threatening Walter Simon wisely decided the family would be safer if they left Germany and move to London, much to Edith’s dismay.

In 1932 Edith and her sister Inge arrived in London to join the family.

Edith taught herself English and then attended the Slade and Central School of Art, became involved with a group of left wing artists and was in 1933 a founder member of Artists International Association (AIA).

Hear her talk about the AIA

In 1934 she exhibited a portrait of the first committee of the AIA at an exhibition at 64 Charlotte Street London.

Her first book for children ‘Somersaults and Strange Company’ was published in 1934 and she began work on a novel ‘The Chosen’ while translating Arthur Koestler’s ‘The Gladiators’ into English. Her translation was later translated back into German when the original manuscript was lost.

In 1940 ‘The Chosen’ was published (to great critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic) although all but a few copies were destroyed in the blitz. Nothing daunted her and the second novel ‘Biting the Blue Finger’ was published in 1942 the year in which she met a scientist Eric Reeve. They were married shortly afterwards.

Eric and Edith moved to Edinburgh in 1947 where Eric took up a post with the new genetics department at Edinburgh University while Edith continued her career as author. She had 17 books published, contemporary novels, historical novels, and histories (see the book list below)

Listen to her talk about one book at "Luncheon at Sardi's"

The Artist

1969 began an increasing focus on art, with an exhibition at the Demarco Gallery in Edinburgh in 1970 followed in 1971 by an exhibition of mobile sculptures and papercut bas-relief pictures at Galerie Balans in Amsterdam and at the Stads Schourburg Galerie Tilbourg.

In 1972 Edith’s last book ‘The Anglo Saxon Manner’ was published.

From the first mobile sculptures and papercuts Edith went on to explore making drawings in one continuous line without lifting pen from paper, see-through pictures in translucent layers, sculpture in stained wood, ciment-fondue, vacuum formed perspex, cast polyester resin, cold-cast bronze, copper, aluminium, metal sheet, carved plaster, painted glass, painted chairs, baths, and murals in paint and wood veneer.

She had so many new ideas and techniques that it was hard to keep up. The continuous line pictures developed into three dimensions with resin supported rope being the continuous line, eventually Edith stopped doing the continuous line drawings when they were no longer enough of a challenge. The paper cuts increased in difficulty with more and more layers of different coloured paper. The layers had to be in the correct order to create the correct highlight and shadow tones, and so cutting down to the colour needed did not cause the whole set of outer layers to fall off. Edith therefore had to be able to “see” what the picture would look like, what colour went where and see the three dimensional set of colour layers in her mind’s eye, before she started on any picture.

She exhibited at the Edinburgh Festival every year until 2001 as well as exhibitions in London and Glasgow. (see the exhibition list below)

The last 8 years of her life were a battle against failing health – she worked attached to a long oxygen line, but was still producing a good number of papercuts.

Exhibitions

1970
April Untitled
Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh
1971
12 June – 24 July Mobile Sculptures, Papercuts, See Throughs
Galerie Balans, Amsterdam
21 August – 10 September Mobile Sculptures, Papercuts and Continuous-line
Stads Schourburg Galerie, Tilbourg
1972
26 August – 23 September Mobile Sculptures Et Cetera
Gardner Centre Gallery, University of Sussex
1973
18 May – 9 June The Edith Simon Adventure Show
Talbot Rice Art Centre, Edinburgh
18 August – 8 September The Edith Simon Adventure Show
Chaplaincy Centre, University of Edinburgh
15 November – 13 December Scottish Society of Women Artists
Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
Invited Artist - 20 works
1974
6–27 April Edith Simon’s Wild Life
Pittencrieff House Museum, Carnegie Trust, Dunfermline
9–27 July Edith Simon’s Open House
Andsell Gallery, London
19 August – 7 September Knox by W Gordon Smith
Costume design by Edith Simon
1975
22–25 January The Admirable Crichton by J M Barrie
Costume and set design by Edith Simon
25 August – 13 September Edith Simon’s Open House/Works
Chamber of Commerce, Edinburgh
1976
25 August – 11 September Creations & Recreations
New Chaplaincy Student Centre, Edinburgh
1977
February Pictures and Sculptures
Grange Hotel, Edinburgh
September Selected Soft Sculptures
City Art Centre, Leeds
1978
21 August – 9 September Edith Simon WORKS
Chamber of Commerce, Edinburgh
1979
Method in Diversity (three exhibitions)
5–16 February Edith Simon – Paper Incarnations
Paperpoint Gallery, London
12 May – 1 June Edith Simon – Morphallaxis
Henderson Gallery, Edinburgh
5–26 June Edith Simon – Sculpture in a Garden
Higham House, London
1980
24 June New Work
Compton Gallery, Windsor
16 August – 6 September Edith Simon’s Fifth Festival Exhibition
Wildcat Theatre, Edinburgh
14 September National Health Service sculpture installed at Astley Ainslie Hospital, Edinburgh
1981
17 August – 5 September Prospect and Restrospect
Chambers Street House, Edinburgh
25 October Biffen Memorial sculptures installed, Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge
1982
14 August – 11 September Art is Alive and Well
Chambers Street Centre, Edinburgh
1983
6–18 June Glasgow Group, 26th Annual Exhibition
McLellan Galleries, Glasgow
(invited artist)
22 August – 11 September A Garden of People
Chambers Street Centre, Edinburgh
1984
13 August – 1 September What is New
Chambers Street Centre, Edinburgh
1985
12 – 31 August Moderation Be Damned
Chambers Street Centre, Edinburgh
1986
30 July Runners - sculpture and scalpel painting unveiled by HM Queen Elizabeth
Lammermuir House, Dunbar
10–30 August The Artist in Search of …
Chambers Street Centre, Edinburgh
1987
Twenty pictures
Scottish Art Club, Edinburgh
22 April – 9 May Maverick or Who’s Afraid of Edith Simon?
Smith’s Gallery, London
9–29 August Maverick or Who’s Afraid of Edith Simon?
Chambers Street Centre, Edinburgh
1988
14 August – 3 September The Timeless Image
Student Centre, Chaplaincy Centre, Edinburgh
1989
19 May SSPCA Anniversary Gala Concert 1839–1989
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
(souvenir programme design)
7 August – 2 September The New Underground
Student Centre, Edinburgh
1990
2–24 March People in Papercut & Sculpture
Barclay Lennie Fine Art, Glasgow
19 July – 16 August Moderation Be Damned
Discreetly Bizarre Gallery, London
5 August – 1 September Lovely Odd Fish
Student Centre, Edinburgh
1991
23 April – 11 May Signals
Smith’s Gallery One, London
4–31 August Signals II
Student Centre, Edinburgh
1992
12 August – 12 September Edith Simon’s Brilliant Alternative Portrait Gallery
Student Centre, Edinburgh
1993
18 May – 5 June Discoveries
Hyde Park Gallery, London
17 August – 4 September The Cutting Edge
Student Centre, Edinburgh
1994
7 August – 3 September Astonish Us
Student Centre, Edinburgh
1995
6 August – 2 September New Location – New Departures
The Engine Shed, Edinburgh
1996
3 May – 7 June Art IS THERAPY
St Marylebone Centre, London
11 August – 1 September Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis
Chaplaincy Centre, Edinburgh
1997
10–30 August Edith Simon WORKS
Chaplaincy Centre, Edinburgh
1998
2–29 August Fearless Vigour
Merchant Company Hall, Edinburgh
1999
8–28 August ART @ Edith Simon
11 Grosvenor Crescent, Edinburgh
2000
6–26 August Edith Simon ONCE AGAIN
Northumberland Street, Edinburgh
2001
5–25 August Edith Simon COME AGAIN
Northumberland Street, Edinburgh
Edith Simon (Edith Reeve), Edinburgh artist and exhibitor at the Edinburgh Festival for thirty years, author of seventeen books, died peacefully aged eighty-five on 7 January 2003. She donated her body to medical science. A memorial celebration was held on 8 February 2003.
2003
10–25 August Edith Simon Memorial Exhibition
11 Grosvenor Crescent, Edinburgh

Books

The Adventures of the Little Pig and Other Stories F Le Groos & Ida Clarke, Victor Gollancz 1937 (children’s book illustrated by Edith Simon)

Somersaults and Strange Company (children’s book written and illustrated by ‘Edith’, Lawrence & Wishart 1937)

The Gladiators Arthur Koestler,(UK Johnathan Cape 1939; US Macmillan - New York 1939) (translated by Edith Simon)

The Chosen (The Bodley Head 1940)

Biting the Blue Finger (The Bodley Head 1942)

Wings Deceive (The Bodley Head 1944)

The Other Passion (The Bodley Head 1948)

The Golden Hand (UK edition Cassell 1952; US edition Putnam 1951)

The Past Masters (UK edition Cassell 1953; US edition The House of Strangers Putnam 1953)

The Twelve Pictures (UK edition Cassell 1956; US edition Putnam 1955)

The Sable Coat (Cassell 1958)

The Piebald Standard: A Biography of the Knights Templar (UK edition Cassell 1959; US edition Putnam 1959)

The Undying Past ed. Orville Prescott (Doubleday) 1961 (p. 252 ‘The Witch and the Lord’ from The Golden Hand by Edith Simon)

The Great Forgery (UK edition Cassell 1962; US edition Little, Brown & Co. 1962)

The Making of Frederick the Great (UK edition Cassell 1963; US editions Little, Brown & Co., reprint Greenan Press)

Friedrich Der Grosse, Das Weiden eines Königs (Rainer Wunderlich Verlag, Hermann Leins, Tubingen, 1963)

The Book of Books – A Treasury of Great Bible Fiction eds Irwin R Blacker & Ethel H Blacker (Holt, Reinhart & Winston NY, simultaneously in Canada 1965) (p. 118 ‘Moses in Midian’ and p.139 ‘The Flight from Egypt’ both from The Chosen by Edith Simon)

The Reformation (Time-Life 1966)

Die Reformation von Edith Simon und der Redaktion der Time-Life (Time-Life, including New York 1967)

The Saints (UK edition Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1968; US edition Delacorte Press 1968)

Luther Alive (UK edition Hodder & Stoughton 1968; US edition Doubleday 1968)

The Anglo-Saxon Manner (Cassell 1972)

The Makers of Modern Thought Horizon Books American Heritage Books – subsidiary of McGraw Hill 1972 (p. 65 ‘Martin Luther’ by Edith Simon)

‘Frederick II the Great of Prussia’, Encyclopaedia Britannica 1974 edition (contributor)

Edith at work

Plays

The Inimitable

Love Me, Scum

Film Script

A Perfect Marriage

Obituaries

‘Moderation Be Damned’ is an illustrated study of Edith Simon’s life and work. 128 pages featuring over 200 full color illustrations & featuring a cd catalogue of her work.

Copies of the book available here.

Or alternatively, download this order form to order directly from the studio.

New Website Launched - As you can see, we have launched a brand new website, allowing us to display a large volume of Edith's Work in one place. Clicking on the Gallery link above will open an interactive gallery, showcasing many of Edith's works - with full details of each piece displayed. For further information, please contact us.

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