Houghton BIRCH

Mrs Emily Houghton BIRCH
Houghton nee VIVIAN aka 'Mouse'

Houghton was a daughter of the prominent local mine-owning family, the Vivians of Camborne, and was born there. She was educated in Truro and qualified in London as a nursery nurse.   Returning to Cornwall, she wrote asking Samuel John Lamorna BIRCH for painting lessons (1902) and then married him in August of the same year. He gave her the affectionate name of Mouse. Her paintings were mostly in watercolour and contain detailed studies of rocks, trees, landscapes and coastal scenes.

She was mother to Joan Houghton BIRCH and Elizabeth Lamorna BIRCH, both also painters, and made and exhibited crafts and the occasional painting at the Newlyn Art Gallery (with her husband and daughters), and two landscapes at the St Ives Society of Artists (1935).  In 1937 at NAG she exhibited a painting Carn Barges. A work in pencil, Cottage at Lamorna (Private Collection), was exhibited at Penlee House (2002).  An outlet for her craftwork and that of her daughters and their friend, Pog YGLESIAS, was their 'craft shop' set up - mainly during the summers - at the bottom of the drive leading up to Flagstaff Cottage in Lamorna. It was more a creative venture than a lucrative one, adding to the sense of community Lamorna always engendered.


Painter of landscapes and botanical subjects; collagist; craftworker


works and access

Likenesses: Portrait of Houghton Birch, c 1930 by R C Seal WEATHERBY, incl in D Bradfield (2007) In Field and Stable, the Life & Work of Richard 'Seal' Weatherby; Portrait of Mouse & Mornie by Laura KNIGHT, incl in Hardie (1994) In Time & Place, Lamorna

Works include: Carn Barges (1937); Cottage at Lamorna (pencil, private collection) 


STISA (2) 1935

NAG Dec 1924 ('Mrs Birch & daughters: raffia and leather'), Dec 1925, Dec 1926, Summer (Leatherwork), 1937 (Painting)

Penlee House, Penzance Women Painters (Group) 2002


Personal bibliography

The Vivians (1935) by Molly Vivian Hughes, author of A London Childhood (Trilogy) focuses on the ancestral Cornish family of Emily Vivian


Hardie (1994) In & Place, Lamorna

             (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery;

             (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall;

Newton et al (2005) Painting at the Edge;

Tovey (2003) Creating a Splash;

 Wood (1994) Hidden Talents, A Dictionary of Neglected Artists, 1880-1950;

Wormleighton (1995) A Painter Laureate: Lamorna Birch and his Circle