With the only light coming from a window, a man bends over a manuscript with his red pencil. In a stoneware jar on his desk some red flowers. The image is just these elements: man, pencil, flowers, window light.

Step forward

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, founder of the St Magnus Festival,  is celebrating a significant birthday this year. A good reason to enjoy one of Gunnie Moberg’s portraits of the composer at his then home, Bunnertoon, in Rackwick, Hoy. Max has said this is one of his favourite portraits. Happy Birthday.

You might recall that a previously undeveloped film  of Gunnie Moberg’s taken at the St Magnus Festival revealed the protrait of a woman with a very interesting face. We can now put a name to that face, step forward Milein Cosman.

A woman looks off she is in mid converstaion, a strap of a handbag hooks the shoulder her tunic has slipped from. She wears a dark polo neck and has silver hair.

Detail from a contact sheet showing two black and white negatives of portraits of a woman.

Like Gunnie, Milein Cosman has spent a lifetime around artists, both have a body of portraits. Milein Cosman creating drawings of composers, musicians and artists, Gunnie making photographs.

Both artists settled in the UK. Gunnie was born in Sweden and ended up in Scotland, making an impact on Orkney shortly after arriving in 1976. Milein Cosman was born in Germany in 1921, arrived in England in 1939, studied at the Slade after the war and has lived most of her life in London. Did the two women discuss choosing where to call home?

In 2008 on the occasion of an Austrian retrospective, Milein Cosman recorded an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour. This is available here through their archives.

Eighteen years before that recording there is Milein in front of Gunnie Moberg’s lens at the 1990 St Magnus Festival.

 

We like to keep the St Magnus Festival office busy being pictorial detectives. As we gear up to the next Gunnie Moberg exhibition, we have been emailing them unidentified musos to title. Attaching as much information as possible to each image is part of the archiving process and it’s also a fascinating part of the job itself. You never know where an image is going to take you or who you are going to meet along the way.

We can thank Peter Maxwell Davies for naming Milein and his PA, Satoko Doi-Luck, for doing some research into Milein. Sakoto had heard that there were works by Cosman at Wigmore Hall, so checked it out and discovered a plaque to the artist.

 

With the only light coming from a window, a man bends over a manuscript with his red pencil. In a stoneware jar on his desk some red flowers. The image is just these elements: man, pencil, flowers, window light.

 

One thought on “Step forward

  1. Hello, this latest is so fascinating for me as I nearly contacted to say the lady might be Mrs Hans Kellar, whose first name I’d forgotten , and wasn’t too sure anyway… We met them at the Dartington Summer School of Music run by Max a lot of years back – she even sketched my ‘heid’ , deeming it to have a Nordic element, correctly I suppose! Had forgotten too that they’ been up here….

    Repeat…what a great job you’re doing there!

    X Eliz

    Ps jotted this down with excitement when read your latest but lost it when I went back to check the Milein spelling. A nd yes it’ s a beauty of Max!

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