It was sad to hear of the death (23 November 2021) of the Contemporary Art Society’s charismatic past Committee Member (1972-88), Honorary Secretary (1975-80), Chairman (1982-July 1988; seeing it through its 75th anniversary year in 1985), Vice President (Honorary, 1988-92) and Vice Patron (2001-05).
She was also a CAS buyer responsible for the purchase and donation of some 48 works of art from the likes of Terry Frost, Prunella Clough, Gillian Ayres, Richard Deacon, Ken Kiff, Leon Kossoff, John Hoyland, Joe Tilson and Dhruva Mistry amongst others.
In 1975 she spent the money from the Darwin Fund (£4,000), named after Robert Vere ‘Robin’ Darwin (1910-1974), Rector of the Royal College of Art, which had been given to the Contemporary Art Society by the Trustees of the New Art Centre, Sloane Street, London when it was wound up as a charity (it became Roche Court, Salisbury, Wiltshire). The money was given on the understanding that it would be used primarily to purchase works by artists from the Royal College of Art, because the New Art Centre was so greatly helped and influenced by Robin Darwin. This was appropriate as Caryl had been an associate of the New Art Centre with Madeleine Ponsonby, Countess of Bessborough since 1958. She was also entrusted by the Linbury Trust (her friends Anya and John Sainsbury) to buy new art through the CAS to be distributed to public museums.
She received a CBE in the New Year Honours of 1988 for her services to the arts (she has also been a trustee of the Pallant House Gallery, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Holburne Museum, Bath, Tate and the National Gallery). And in May of that year the National Art Collections Fund gave her their National Art Collections Award for the creation of the Contemporary Art Society Market, which she had initiated from 1984. It was an annual four-day art sale, of over 300 works by emerging artists without dealers at modest prices (at the time no more than £500) and 30 established artists were invited to contribute – a model for future affordable art fairs. Caryl’s husband, the American artist John Hubbard (1931-2017), helped with the hangs. In that same year, in July, she also skilfully organised the Contemporary Art Society’s Distribution Exhibition which was held at Camden Arts Centre and sensitively displayed 229 fine art and craft works before being presented to the 90 museum members at the time. The NACF award included a cheque for £5,000 and Caryl generously donated this to the CAS to spend on a computer, also an example of her having a finger on the pulse of new developments!
She will be remembered for her energy and creative foresight as well as being responsible for building up the reputation, with a plethora of activities at home and abroad, that our charitable organisation has today.