Judith Ackland’s delicate watercolour landscapes and technically precise portrait skills are apparent in many of the works held by the Burton at Bideford, but also in the many sketchbooks within the archive. Sketchbooks show delicate and meticulous pencil portraits of both friends, family and neighbours, as well as characters for many book covers and draft illustrations.
Judith Ackland spent her whole life in Bideford, advancing from school to study at Bideford Art School which has seen many other talented and famous artists or illustrators rise up from its classes. Unlike Mary Stella Edwards, the archive has little information about Judith’s formative time or her time at Regent Street Polytechnic. From her early letters we see that she took lodgings in London during her studies and studied drawing, illustration, printmaking and watercolour lessons. Judith’s time there was relatively short, as she was brought home to help nurse her convalescent younger sister Madeline who died not long after.
Judith Ackland’s paintings were chosen for the Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1927, 1929 and 1932 and the marked programs and private invites from these exhibitions can be found in the archive. In 1927 Judith painting entitled The Tarn was selected, and sold during the exhibition.
During the 1929 exhibition Snowdon, by the Pen-Y Gwryd Track and Mountain Lake, North Wales were selected and show how much painting tours with Mary Stella Edwards were influencing her work. Her last selection in 1932 saw the more local painting In Cheddar Gorge exhibited which was also, in the same year, exhibited at an exhibition in the Public Art Galleries, Brighton.
Judith Ackland travelled on sketching and painting tour with Mary Stella Edwards, on several occasions, mostly before the outbreak of the second World War. The archive shows photographs of Judith painting in full weather gear, as well as climbing up mountains – both in Wales and the Lake District.
Before her death in 1971 Judith and Mary exhibited multiple times at many shows in London, including the New English Art Club, the Alpine Club and Society of Women Artists and many others. Watercolours exhibited by Judith included images from sketching tours, but more often included local views like Clovelly Quay or Summer Afternoon N Devon.