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Artist Cecily Fortescue dies at 82

By Fritz Mayer
October 24, 2012

Cecily Fortescue, who passed away on October 19, was a ubiquitous presence in Sullivan County and the Upper Delaware Valley, and so were the elegant and graceful pots and vases she created.

Fortescue, who attended Oxford University, was born in England and became a “university lecturer.” But she grew tired of the academic world after four years and turned her attention to pottery and music.

She moved to New York City in 1973 and became a successful, mostly self-taught potter. According to the website, her work was featured in such places as the shop of the Museum of Arts and Design and in stores such as Design Technics, Henri Bendel and Macy’s Cellar. Also, she taught pottery at the Children’s Aid Society, the 92nd Street YMCA in New York City and at the
Catskill Art Society (CAS) in Hurleyville.

Fortescue was also quite knowledgeable about music, which was a life-long passion. At her 80th birthday party, she gave a performance playing the viola with her music teacher Anastasia Solberg and Solberg’s son Cush.

Fortescue also hosted a radio program on WJFF-Radio Catskill called Afternoon Classics.

Winston Clark, manager at WJFF, said, “In losing our one and only Cecily Fortescue, the self-named ‘Queen of Dead and Disorganized Air,’ WJFF has lost a cherished host, a musical scholar, a noble lady and a mirthful spirit. The laughter that bubbled within Cecily was always in her eyes and often erupted into moments of sublime silliness. All of us will miss her charm, her erudition and her generosity. Our thoughts and our hearts are with Arnie, her longtime partner in crime and beloved consort.”

Potter Jill Wiener, proprietor of Earthgirl Pottery said, “Cecily was a force of nature.  Everything she did was done so joyfully and generously. She was willing to share her wisdom, music, humor and glaze recipes. I will truly miss her.”