Ena MacFarlane (nee Hodge) – 1919 – 2009
Ena Hodge was born in Kuala Lumpur in 1919. At the age of eight, she was sent home to Edinburgh as a boarder at St George’s School for Girls. Her passion even as a child was art but her father would not hear of her attending art college when she finished school. Instead, she re-joined her parents who were now in Singapore and at the age of twenty-one in 1941, she married Ian MacFarlane who was a young Scottish Merchant Banker. Within a month of being married, Ena was evacuated from Singapore and returned to Edinburgh for the war years. Ian was a Japanese Prisoner of War and worked on the Burma Railroad and she did not know if he was alive or dead.
When her husband came home at the end of the war, he resumed his career in merchant banking. For the next forty years, she lived all over the world – Japan (where she became a Professor of Flower Arranging), India, Ceylon, Malaya and Singapore. She developed a very keen interest in Oriental painting on silk scrolls and studied with eminent artists in both Japan and Singapore to learn how to properly use the techniques. She held certificates from various institutions for art qualifications she gained during these years.
At the same time, Ena developed a keen interest in the art of Bonkei where living scenes were made in ceramic dishes using Bonsai trees, living mosses and miniature art pieces handmade by Japanese craftsmen. She built up a large collection of these oriental miniatures and she also engaged the craftsmen to build her Scottish models and had a wonderful collection of little Scottish houses, castles, shepherds, Border-collies and bridges etc.
In 1966, her family immigrated to Melbourne, Australia where they lived until 1975. During this period, Ena continued with her oriental and Bonkei work, attended painting classes and started to realise that watercolour was what she enjoyed most.
In 1975, Ena and Ian moved to Guernsey where she spent the next twenty-three years taking art classes, becoming a very active member of the Sarnia Arts Group and started to sell her artwork at various exhibitions and art shows, as well as through art shops in St Peter Port and the Coach House Gallery. During this time Guernsey published an annual art calendar in which Ena’s work featured in 1991 and 1992 issues. She sold a number of paintings privately including some to The Private Bank.
In 1996, she was part of a group exhibition at the Coach-house Gallery.
Ena loved living in Guernsey and these were the happiest years of her life both personally and artistically. She found inspiration in almost everything in Guernsey and her artwork included many Guernsey scenes, including flowers on the island and still lifes.
In 1998, the MacFarlane family relocated to Australia for a second time. Before she left, Ena donated all her Bonkei pieces (apart from a couple of boxes) to the British Museum.
In Melbourne, she continued to paint and sold some of her work through local shops and exhibitions. However, the highlight of her time in Australia was when Christie’s took eight of her paintings in a sale entitled Australian Literature, Art and Sport in March 2002. The paintings were featured in a sale with a reserve price of $10,000 and she was disappointed when they were passed in at $9,500.
In 2007, Ena’s old school St George’s in Edinburgh featured a substantial article about her in its annual Chronicle magazine.
Ena died in September 2009 at the age of ninety
©Ena MacFarlane. All Rights Reserved 2019