First looked at her online, late at night, entranced first of all by the
buttons. Two on the cuff of the visible sleeve and another eight on her
dress, leading away from her convoluted hands, down from her knees to
the invisible floor of the balcony on which she sits. The buttons are the
same colour as the shawl collar of the garment, and they form a defining
line. So, I called her Girl with Buttons’ until she was with me, so to
speak, and I saw so much more.
Here is Amy Gladys Donovan, defining herself with her signature in
script in the top right-hand corner and her elaborate AD at the bottom
left. ‚ÄúThis is ME‚Äù, she seems to be saying. ‚ÄúThis is Amy.‚Äù
We have a three-quarter profile, featuring an interesting, long face
with artful black hair, mouth slightly open. Rather lovely and shy, an
ingénue with a touch of ferocity, innocence and resistance. The colours
are controlled. Scant knowledge of her life indicates that her military
father did not approve of her career in art. Is that the balcony behind,
and has it anything to do with all those buttons?
She sits not centre stage, but left of. Amy Donovan, uncertain, with
anxious, convoluted hands, knew what to do with the space surrounding
herself. (My own definition of design.) She is wonderfully designed,
utterly personal, vulnerable and powerful.
Commentary by Frances Fyfield, a one-time criminal lawyer, who went on to write twenty-four crime novels, some of which
reflect a lifelong passion for undervalued British art. She has won several awards for her writing and is
the presenter of the Radio 4 series Tales from the Stave.