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Maureen Connett enjoying a picnic lunch at Winchelsea. Maureen was often seen on one of the seafront benches or taking the air along Hastings seafront.

Maureen Connett, 1939–2022: a colourful life

Erica Smith pays tribute to Maureen Teresa Connett – artist, singer, writer – and contributor to Hastings Online Times. Everyone who knew Maureen is invited to wear bright colours to attend her funeral on Thursday 21 April at Hastings Crematorium.

Opus Theatre, Hastings by Maureen Connett

Maureen moved to Hastings about twenty years ago – around the time I moved here – and I feel I have known her for all of that time. She loved the sense of community that she found here and would happily sit on the step outside her flat or on one of the seafront benches, taking the air and talking to neighbours, friends and acquaintances.

Her daughter, Frances, said she wondered if Hastings reminded Maureen of her early days growing up in Salford – both places have a rough-around-the-edges friendliness about them. Robert Tressell’s Ragged Trousered Philanthropists could just as easily be set in Salford as in Hastings.

Brassey Institute, Hastings by Maureen Connett

Artist and art historian

I think I first met Maureen in connection with Hastings Arts Forum – she was an excellent painter and her studies of local buildings and landscapes are captivating. She was also an art historian and the author of Walter Sickert and the Camden Town Group, published in 1992. Maureen’s paintings are not derivative of Sickert’s style, but there is definitely a flavour of the Camden Town group in her work. Unlike the rather sombre tones of Sickert and co. – Maureen’s paintings celebrate colour.

Cherry Tree in Alexandra Park, May 2020, Maureen Connett

Singer and music lover

When Maureen lived in London she sung with The London Orpheus Choir. During her time in Hastings, she turned her focus to jazz and loved singing – both with the band that she formed and as a solo performer.

ArtsOnPrescription’s Tara Reddy remembers Maureen as “a colourful, creative and motivated woman who was inspired by her love of art and jazz”.

Teacher and community activist

Before she moved to Hastings, Maureen had a career as an English teacher. She continued her lifelong love of teaching by volunteering for Education Futures Trust. She spent many years working with the charity, supporting creative sessions with children, running an adult art course and The Firs singing group. She made a great connection with the young people whom she supported and was always ready to have a go at anything she was asked to do with such enthusiasm and energy. She was also actively involved with Hastings Trust.

Journalist

Maureen wrote for many publications – including Hastings Online Times. She became a regular contributor during lockdown. You can read her articles here.

Maureen was an extremely independent woman and enjoyed her own company – but lockdown was a difficult time for everyone who lives alone. I remember talking to her about the challenges of enforced isolation as we entered a second year of lockdown restrictions in March 2021. I particularly like her article about painting in lockdown – Passed or Failed? Ten watercolours. and her prescient article about Marianne North and Edward Lear which was published in the summer before the ATownExploresABook festival celebrated Edward Lear’s work in April 2021.

After surviving nearly two years of lockdown, sadly Maureen had a stroke this January. After some time in the Conquest she moved to Hastings Court Care Home where she died, aged 83. She was a dearly loved mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and great friend to many.

Maureen’s funeral is at Hastings Crematorium on Thursday 21 April 2.15pm. Anyone who knew Maureen is welcome to attend and you are encouraged to wear bright colours to celebrate Maureen’s colourful life. Family flowers only. Donations can be made online at educationfuturestrust.org/donate or cheques can be sent via Arthur C. Towner Ltd, 2–4 Norman Road, St Leonards, TN37 6NH.

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Thank you for your continued support!

Posted 21:22 Wednesday, Apr 13, 2022 In: Hastings People

5 Comments

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  1. Frances Knight

    I first met Maureen over 30 years ago at the Vortex Jazz club in Stoke Newington, where she was living back then. In subsequent years I had the pleasure of accompanying her at countless gigs. We also made a lovely album together ‘the Song’s the Thing’ with Stan Sulzmann. She was fantastic company, and I enjoyed our chats about art, life, and the world in all its craziness!

    Comment by Frances Knight — Sunday, May 1, 2022 @ 12:24

  2. Rachel Frost

    I met Maureen while out hiking when I’d slipped away from a dancing weekend I was attending in Camber.
    She was sitting on a bench on the cliffs near her home with her face upturned to the sun and her eyes closed. I tried to tiptoe past her so as not to disturb her but I was found out ! We struck up a conversation and finally swapped numbers and became good friends.
    We regularly swapped homes and I spent weekends in Hastings and she enjoyed my flat in London.
    I still have one of her paintings on my wall in this flat .
    I’ll miss her quirky cheeriness and her sense of humour. RIP Maureen. Xxx

    Comment by Rachel Frost — Thursday, Apr 21, 2022 @ 10:25

  3. Christopher Cormack

    Dear Maureen, I knew her well, and all the more because we sneaked some covid contact together during the last two years, because we both live alone and it could drive you crazy! Yes, contact sitting on the seafront, at the disused White Rock bowling greens and in Alexandra Park where Maureen painted a beautiful set of Spring watercolours which were published in HOT. Maureen had cards produced from her paintings and she helped finance ‘Tune up Tuesdays’ by giving them us to sell.

    We shared a love of Ella Fitzgerald and I was privileged to take in what I think was her last Ella gig in Hastings at a seafront cafe bar near St Leonards. I wish I had known her in her prime when I am sure she was a formidable woman. As it is, we have both taken comfort in our later years by singing together classics with the Battle Choral Society, Hastings Philharmonic Choir and jazz classics with Gary Marriott and ‘Tune up Tuesdays’. Our religious atheism allowed us to ‘feed the soul’ with many kinds of music that bring people together in the spirit of ‘Liberté, égalité, and fraternité! So I will put on my colourful glad rags on Thursday to celebrate a rich and fruitful life and shed a tear for the loss especially for her beloved family.

    I think I can speak on behalf of everyone at Tune up Tuesdays including Gary Marriott to say that we shall all miss her very much.

    Comment by Christopher Cormack — Tuesday, Apr 19, 2022 @ 21:26

  4. Sharon Moore

    How sad to hear of Maureen’s passing. I used to sometimes see her on the seafront along the Marina where I would stop and sit across the other end of the bench – covid style. We would discuss anything on our minds. Particularly during the winter when the sea and sky had a milky softness to it, with crayon like pastel coral- coloured tones seeping from the west as the sun would start to drop. Our conversation would generally start with how beautiful the sea looked, the changing colours and tones – reminding me of some of the paintings which Mareen had shown in Hastings Arts Forum – making it easy to then get on to the subject of what we were working on. Both of us being the sort who could, and would, strike up a conversation about anything I like to think our sporadic meetings were pleasant for Maureen as well as myself. She did seem to become quite animated and interested in what I was doing as well as her enviroment. I had noticed that I hadn’t seen her for a while and am glad that I had the opportunity to share some precious moments with her. Thankyou, Maureen. My thoughts are with you.

    Comment by Sharon Moore — Thursday, Apr 14, 2022 @ 15:10

  5. Bernard McGinley

    Maureen was a very fine citizen of Hastings & St Leonards. As a painter or jazz singer or art historian or observer of the local scene she was always interesting and interested.

    I’ll miss her.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Thursday, Apr 14, 2022 @ 09:57

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