Historical Art
by Yonita Fairfax

About me

Yonita Fairfax is an artist in a unique situation as she is not only a Fairfax but also a Plantagenet, -only her Plantagenet family members were some of the ones who were persecuted and executed by the Crown, for no other real reason than that as cousins, they appeared a threat to Henry VII and then Henry VIII. Yonita therefore in the pages of her memoir has joined these elements together with her own Art work, photographs and text, almost as a catalogue raisonne.
Born in London, at St.Mary Abbott's,Kensington, just before the Second World War, her early life was unusual since she was sent to primary day schooling in a French speaking country, then on to a strict boarding school in England. After Roedean, she studied law, then was presented in the last year of the Presentations, which her controlling father did not approve of, nor her interest in art, which he forbade. This led to an escape but to an angry husband in South Africa where she lived during the apartheid years. During this time, since she was building and bringing up a family, it took her 15 years to finish her Fine Arts degree : the period in art from modernism to post modernism, which was also her childrenís growing up period. She finished her degree with UNISA at the same time as her youngest son finished his Engineering Degree at Cape Town University in the year 2000.
To get to her morning lecture in Pretoria, she would drive for 5 hours, and be back again for supper at the subtropical farm where she lived during this dangerous period of upheaval from apartheid to independence. The atmosphere was tense. She had to learn night combat shooting but did not carry a gun during the day as some of her friends did.Shortly after her arrival back in Europe,when in France, whilst basking in the sun with her car door open, a shadow fell. She screamed--apologised profusely to a lady who said 'I just came over to ask for the time'.
Yonita had moved to South Africa when there was a sterling crisis during the cold war, as her father had lost his leg and could not gain access to his Thurloe Square ground floor flat, owing to a sitting tenant passing the flat on to his children. Her sons say 'Well, had it not been for Mr.Z at Thurloe Square you would not have gone to South Africa and we would not have been born.'
When in London, the innocence of her early adulthood was quickly marred by an unfortunate love affair typical of a pretty girl, innocently brought up-but which led to an abortion forced on her by her father, from her fiance of two years which had to be legalized by a panel of psychologists,a situation which only now she feels she can talk about.
She has emerged from exceptionally gruelling circumstances but has gained her freedom. She has come back to a very changed London and pound. One big differece now is the constant talking in the streets. However at least having your own phone must make it easier for girls to share a flat since the phone bills were always a bone of contention.
During her time in South Africa she gave back what she could by handing on her decorating and building skills, and now would like to be able to live life as it might have been, had she stayed in London taking advantage of its cultural aspects,-difficult as we are again in a financial crisis, but she is again working on a house.
After her divorce and when in Cape Town, Yonita who has always been passionate about reading and writing became a Montessori Director for 3-6 year olds. She took courses in philosophy and also spent five years obtaining qualifications in Kinesiology, Diplomas in Brain Gym, Brain Organistion Profiles, Body Alignment, Bio Kinetics, amongst others.
When Yonita was part of London life, unlike other some debutantes, she loved the London where married women entertained in spacious beautiful houses for 'The Season' but had 'A different Curtsey'-the title of her other work.Although she might nowadays be told to look at her privilege as she was 'well educated', it was an education to turn you out as a well rounded person -but not educated to be specifically a business person. Although she did work in Antiques and for herself, she wanted above all to get married and have children.
She married at St Margaretís Westminster,on 30 May 1969 where an ancestor Lady Dorothy Stafford, Queen Elizabeth Ist, being the daughter of Lady Ursula Pole ,the granddaughter of Prince George Duke of Clarence,brother to King Edward IV and King Richard III. Lady Ursula married Henry Lord Stafford, the son of Edward Stafford, the attainted 3rd Duke of Buckingham.The execution of the Third Duke of Buckingham affected the family as it is tantamount to being thrown into the street. Henry Lord Stafford thanked Lord Robert Dudley, the Earl ofLeicester,the favourite of Queen Elizabeth for his gift of clothes, which might be why according to a contemporary letter Henry Lord Stafford was still considered to be one of the best dressed men around, in spite of having been deprived of income and property (1). The Honourable Dorothy Stafford, herself married a cousin, Sir William Stafford who at one stage had been in the household of the Third Duke of Norfolk, and had been previously married to Lady Mary Boleyn,the sister of Ann Boleyn, queen to Henry VIII - quite a difficult enterprise as Queen Ann Boleyn was then in disgrace.
As you enter St.Margaret's Church, the memorial is situated on the left hand side. ©


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