A brilliant artist and an inspiration to her pupils
I first met Elsie P. Langridge when, in 1952 at the age of twelve, my parents enrolled me for art classes which she gave from her home in Shipwrights Drive, Benfleet. Naturally, she was Mrs Langridge to me. I remember her as a very short, tubby lady wearing an amazingly large hearing aid hung around her neck. It regularly emitted a loud high pitched scream, much to Mrs Langridge’ s annoyance!
Elsie was an artist of the old school – she could really draw! I looked in amazement as she would illustrate a figure using a very soft pencil, probably a three or four B, flexing the lead as she drew to achieve a thicker or thinner line. As she outlined an arm for example, the muscle formation within the limb became apparent, even though it was simply the white of the paper on which she was drawing! Regrettably, I have never been able to emulate this technique.
What I have done however is to make my living as an artist and graphic designer. I ran my design studio for forty years, operating for some considerable time from premises based in Benfleet. It was Elsie Langridge who enabled me to gain my place at The Southend School of Art, which I attended from 1956 to 1959. I was not alone in benefitting from her teaching, there were many more students who owed the start of their careers in art and design to this talented lady.
Unfortunately I do not possess an original Langridge drawing or painting, however every year she sent Christmas cards to her students and I have held on to mine for over fifty years! I came across them a few months back and realised for the first time that I had emulated my mentor more closely than I had realised! For the past seven years my wife Rebecca and I have sent Christmas cards featuring my own drawings and in 2009 we had chosen Hadleigh castle as the subject. Suddenly I realised that Elsie Langridge had also chosen Hadleigh Castle over half a century earlier! Was her influence on my work even stronger than I had thought ?
For me this lady formed a colourful panel in the tapestry of this, our historic Essex town – Benfleet should remember her with pride.
We are indebted to Clifford G. Messiter F.B.D.S. for this tribute
Elsewhere on this site is a biography of Elsie Langridge.