Sheila Healey (1915 - 2017)
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La Tortillera II by Sheila Healey
La Tortillera II. 1937
Pancha by Sheila Healey
Pancha. c.1937
Pancha by Sheila Healey
Pancha. 1937
Yellow Flowers by Sheila Healey
Yellow Flowers. 2011


Painter and draughtsman, notable for portraits, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Anglo-Scottish parents. Poverty faced the family in 1930 when Sheila's father died and for five years she taught English until there was money to return to England. In 1935 they moved to Mexico where Sheila encountered the advanced painter José Clemente Orozca, who admiringly told her to 'throw away your books - just work'. She had inspirational lessons from Angelina Beloff, first wife of the artist Diego Rivera. In 1938 she met the explorer, archaeologist, photographer and film-maker Giles Healey in Guatemala City. With him she moved to New York in 1941, a multi-cultural eye-opener; in 1943 they married and settled in Los Angeles; went to Mexico in 1944; then back to New York in 1946, where Sheila was encouraged by the sculptor Henry Moore. After moving in 1947 to Pacific Palisades, California, Healey took classes with Rico Le Brun and William Brice. In 1955 they went up the coast to Big Sur, joining an artistic community which included the writer Henry Miller. By now she had exhibited widely, including the Vincent Price Gallery, Beverley Hills, 1943; Los Angeles Museum, 1947; with a solo show at Norlyst Gallery, New York, 1948. She was a regular exhibitor at the Coast Gallery, Big Sur from 1954 to 1964. Tragically, the home which she and Giles had built on the coast at Big Sur burned down in 1971, along with much of her work. The Healeys moved finally to Bignor, West Sussex, in 1969. Retrospectives of her work took place in London’s Gallery 27, Cork Street in 1999 and 2005, the Lewis Elton Gallery at the University of Surrey and the Lightbox Museum Woking, in 2012. She continued to draw and paint as she celebrated her centenary year in 2015.