Karon Staniland obituary

·3 min read

My mother, Karon Staniland, who has died aged 87, was a familiar face in the Wiltshire town of Marlborough for more than 65 years, well known for her work as an art teacher and as an artist who loved to paint pictures of the local area in watercolour, pastel and oils.

Plenty of Marlborough residents have a “Staniland” hanging on their wall, and many others have one of her charcoal portrait sketches, which she would dash off at local events and fairs with great accuracy in five minutes flat, while a long queue of people waited to have themselves “done”.

Karon was born in St Helier in Jersey, where her parents, Clarence Skinner and his wife, Eva (nee Singer), ran a hotel. They left just before the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans in 1940, and relocated to Shepherds Bush in west London. After schooling locally, Karon studied at Hammersmith School of Art, then worked as a scenic artist and designer for various theatres in London and Southampton.

In 1953 she married Tony Staniland, a teacher from Shepherd’s Bush, and they decided to move to Marlborough, where Tony’s grandparents lived and where she got a job as an art teacher at Marlborough grammar school. Although their marriage ended in 1962, Karon loved the area and stayed for the rest of her life.

A busy existence followed, bringing up her children while painting and teaching art at Mayfield College. In 1972 she opened the Bajazzo gallery in Marlborough as a full-time venture, putting on a number of exhibitions of established and upcoming artists over the next two decades while also working part-time at Kingsbury Hill House school and teaching art to adults and children at the gallery and in her home. The gallery flourished until the late 1980s, when she also mounted and directed Artists at Work, an event at the Marlborough festival.

During these times her own paintings were featured at various exhibitions across the south of England, but teaching remained her great love, working with both adults and children in small groups. She gave talks and demonstrations to local art groups, and would take artists and friends over to her house on the Greek island of Alonissos, where they would sit and paint with her.

She never really retired and was still teaching art and organising coach trips to exhibitions in London until she was diagnosed with dementia in 2010. Even then, she ran an art class at Highfield care home in Marlborough, before later becoming a resident there for the last five years of her life.

Aside from her art she will mostly be remembered for her lovely smile and twinkling blue eyes, as well as the flamboyant and colourful outfits that she always wore. She seemed to be friends with everyone.

Karon is survived by her second husband, Dietwald Goebel, whom she married in 1963; three children, me, Lesley and Yanina, from her first marriage; a daughter, Christina, from her second marriage; and seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.