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Elizabeth Peacock

Elizabeth Peacock was born in Staffordshire in 1880; she struggled with ill health in her youth and lived with her parents home until she was 36. Apart from some private painting lessons, she had no art training. However, she was determined to learn to weave and took an apprenticeship with Ethel Mairet in 1917, then based in Shottery near Stratford-upon-Avon. Mairet was in the process of building a new workshop and home at 'Gospels', Ditchling, Sussex and Peacock was sent ahead to weave in 1918, as soon as the premises were habitable.

In 1918 she set up home with Molly Stobart, a local farmer who she had befriended when the latter became ill. In 1922 the two built a house, workshop and small-holding called 'Weavers' at Clayton near Ditchling; they remained there all their lives.

Peacock began her exhibiting career at the Englishwoman Exhibition, Central Hall, Westminster in 1923, and in 1925 showed at the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. Her vegetable-dyed stoles and lengths from this time were especially prized and sold to the Schiaparelli couture house and to private clients. She worked in handspun yarns, using imported silks and British wools; in the first two decades of her career she usually had two helpers or pupils in the workshop but later preferred to work alone.

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