Thursday, 4 August 2011

Audrey Besterman

Audrey Besterman 
Audrey Besterman was known for her creative intelligence, medical knowledge and artistic versatility
Audrey Besterman, who has died aged 90, was a medical artist and scientific illustrator. Between 1955 and 2005, her work was published in more than 100 books and periodicals. Audrey became much sought after for her creative intelligence, medical knowledge and artistic versatility.
The third daughter of a physician, Charles Brehmer Heald, and Edith, a GP's daughter, Audrey had medicine in her genes. She was born in Kimpton, Hertfordshire. On leaving school, she enrolled in 1937 at the Byam Shaw School of Art. She enlisted in 1939 as an ambulance driver and described this period, when she had to deal with some gruesome calls during the blitz, as one in which she really grew up.
In 1944, she married a young medical student, Edwin Besterman. After their divorce, in 1955, she became a single mother with two boys to bring up – my brother, Harvey, and me. Combining her training in medicine and art, she hit on the idea of becoming a medical illustrator – work that she could do from home. A nine-month apprenticeship at Guy's hospital, in London, set her up.
She illustrated more than a dozen books for Faber & Faber and 72 monthly supplements to the Nursing Times, entitled Systems of Life. Her most exquisite work includes her pen and ink wash studies of early hominin bone: she worked from the object, which entailed access to unique material.
In 1961, she married Harold Nottman, with whom she enjoyed a long and happy partnership, acquiring a stepson, Bruce, in the process. Audrey had a particular talent for friendship, often sustained across generations and great distances with the easy flowing care of an inexhaustible blue fountain pen and an elegant, cursive script. There are many people who remember her affection, warmth and wisdom.
Harvey died in 1997 and Harold in 2008. Audrey is survived by Tristram and four grandchildren.

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