Sunday, August 08, 2010

Fifi who?

There are sometimes great benefits for having an unusual first name. Fifi is not really my given name; I was christened Fiona in a grand Scottish tradition, but have been known as Fifi ever since I tried pronouncing the former as a toddler. I was convinced that I was the only Fifi who was a children’s book illustrator…that is up until a week ago, when Dianne from Nelson contacted me, because of, simply, my name.

“I have a painting by a Fifi Wynn-Williams. It came from my husband's aunt Meg Everton and I even have the bowl to go with it.  I am pretty sure it was painted before 1970 but how much before I don't know.
There is also a children's book called 'Mr Moa' by F Wynn-William given to Meg's mother with the author's complements in 1946. There is also a manuscript for a book called 'The Wonderland of Mr Moa' but I don't know who wrote or illustrated it.  Meg may have written it but it's in child's handwriting so must have been a long time ago as she just died aged 90.  Meg was a well known teacher and Ardmore Training College lecturer in Auckland. 
The manuscript and book are accompanied by a letter from Heinemann Educational Books (NZ) Ltd dated 1976 saying they are sorry they can't publish the manuscript or republish the book (ah…does nothing change 70 years later?)
The Mr Moa book has an article from the NZ Woman's Weekly stuck to the inside cover from 1946  written by a Count Etienne Micard.  He is agreeing with 2 men who protested about the V&A museum in London showing Picasso's "crazy-guying of Mankind".  He says "all the praise and clatter around Picasso's 'surrealism'  can only be explained by the Western world's decadence." (!)
There is also a sentence that has been underlined and 'Fifi' written in the margin:  
 "I wonder if the man in the street would hesitate between the odd naked bodies of Maoris on the wall of the Public Library in Auckland , for instance, and the charming faces of the children in a Shortland Street studio which remind one of Raphael's Jesus?"

Well, we are burning up to know who this other fabulous Fifi is. Can anyone elucidate?  


Bookman Beattie said...

What a wonderful stroy. Thanks for sharing,

Anonymous said...

Hi Fifi Was my grandmother and she wrote and illustrated Mr Moa. I also have a copy. Cate Dunne

Fifi Colston said...

Hi Cate! Thats great- a piece of the puzzle filled in! If you email me I'd love to put you in touch with the lady who contacted me in the first place.