Miss Billie WATERS

Born in Richmond, Surrey on 6th April, 1895, the daughter of a solicitor, the artist was officially named Phyllis Mary Waters. Known as `Billie', she studied under Henry Massey at Heatherley's School of Fine Art, and with Iain Macnab at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art.

Between 1920 and 1925, she attended the HARVEY & PROCTER School in Newlyn, and then remained in a general learning capacity and an occasional model with Ernest PROCTER, receiving technical advice on priming and stretching canvases, and on painting. Under Procter she developed a distinctive decorative style, working primarily in oils, but in a style which mimicked tempera. She applied her paint thinly, without visible brushstrokes and waxed rather than varnished the finished work.

Her friendship circle included the PROCTERs (Ernest & Doris Shaw) and HARVEYs (Harold Charles Francis & Gertrude) and their friends, including Lamorna BIRCH, who gave her informal advice on art. Her first success at the RA was in 1928, and she exhibited there regularly for the next twenty years. In 1931, she moved to London and became interested in animal painting, working often at the London Zoo. Her work was taken up by the colour collotype firm W J Stacey and she was commissioned to illustrate an American book. In 1934 she was commissioned to paint mural decorations at the Knightsbridge Grille, and in August 1938 she featured in the 'Artists of Note' series in The Artist. She continued to return to Cornwall on a regular basis and moved here during WWII, living at 3 The Warren, St Ives.


Flowers, landscapes and animals, primarily in oils.

works and access

Works include: Reclining Deer, Mousehole Fields, Hayle from Lelant, Minorcan Farms. The Little Fawn, Innocence (a young antelope); The Lotus Pool; prints reproduced by W J Stacey, illus to Animals Big and Small by Ray Unwin (1940). Manor house Lelant - Cornwall -26x 36cm

Access to Work: Tovey (2003) Creating a Splash, repr of Reclining Deer (b/w) p54 (W H Lane & Son) Flower Piece , p276, Fig 3W-1


LEI (40+) 1933, her firt one-man show RA (27) 1928 onwards NAG 1924, December 1925, Spring 1926, July 1926, December 1927, March St Ives STISA 1928, Porthmeor Gallery 1947 (SA), 49 and 51 FoB, Touring Shows

1996: Group Show of Women Painters, Falmouth AG (Exh cat)

 Penlee House, 29 November 2008 - 14 March 2009:A Village in Focus: Mousehole, A Village in Focus: Newlyn

2011: 'The Female Perspective' Group show, Chapel Gallery, Gulval, April-May


STISA: 1946-1955 Penwith Society of Arts in Cornwall

misc further info

Thanks to Paul Broderick for corrections (2015) to Billie's full name and the dates of her birth and death, which have up to now been falsely recorded, due to lack of knowledge about her birth name.


The Artist, August 1938

Buckman (2006 rev 2nd edition) Artists in Britain since 1945

Tate,  St Ives 1939-64, Twenty Five Years of Painting

Tovey, David (2003) Creating a Splash;

Tovey, David (2021) Polperro - Cornwall's Forgotten Art Centre - Volume Two - Post-1920, Wilson Books

Wallace et al (1996) Women Painters in Cornwall 1880-1940

Who's Who in Art, 1948;