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.
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.