Artist and disability campaigner Stella Grosvenor dies aged 95

Stella Grosvenor

Stella Grosvenor - Credit: Archant

A Hampstead artist and disability campaigner has died aged 95.

Stella Grosvenor, who lived in Flask Walk, was a talented illustrator and sculptor whose figurative and abstract work was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly and showcased at most galleries in the village.

Mrs Grosvenor, who contracted polio in infancy, became a trustee of Age UK Camden in her later years when the disease rendered her wheelchair-bound. She was a strong supporter of the charity, Access2Art, which helped those who struggled with mobility to visit galleries and museums. She died on New Year’s Day at the Royal Free Hospital after a short illness.

Her nephew Tristram Frost, who grew up in Hampstead, said: “Even though she had polio from a young age and she became gradually weaker it never stopped her doing things. In fact, she had a new lease on life in her later years and travelled the world, even scuba diving with the British Army in Germany.”

Born to a bohemian family, Mrs Grosvenor’s early years were spent on the road before the family settled in The Pryors apartment block on Hampstead Heath.

She attended school in the village before training at The Slade School Of Fine Art.

It was at this time that Mrs Grosvenor met her future husband Hugh, and they married at Hampstead Parish Church in 1940.

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Both were called up to work in the Second World. Mrs Grosvenor drew maps and charts for The War Office and her architect husband was called into action as a radio operator for the Royal Air Force.

The couple stayed in Hampstead their entire married life with Mrs Grosvenor spending the past 40 years in Flask Walk.

Mr Frost said: “It was home, it was everything they wanted on their doorstep – outside London, but in London.

“It’s traditionally a very artistic community, which they loved.”

After her husband’s death, Mrs Grosvenor embarked on several trips to New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. In Germany she joined the British Army in the training pool for scuba diving, and on holiday in Norway she tried tightrope walking.

Mrs Grosvenor, who designed her own equipment to help her move around her home, continued to visit art galleries across the capital despite being wheelchair bound.

Pauline Cheeseman, a close friend and former chief officer of Age UK Camden, said: “She was absolutely determined that her disability was not going to stop her from doing anything. She was an example to everyone that you never give up on life.”