Pamela Synge, also known as Pamela De Meo, was born in 1920. She died in early 2015. She was a visual artist, performer and writer who attended RADA in 1939 before the beginning of the Second World War, and postwar went to Central Martin's School of Art and Chelsea School of Art. Synge is also the cousin of the late artist Anthony Devas.
After leaving school, and shortly before the war, she briefly lived in the South France where she studied with the Russian School of Ballet in Cannes under Marie Karsovska. She was lucky to catch one of the last boats out of Russia when war was declared later that year. More recent travels have enabled her to paint in South Africa, the West Indies, Venice, Russia and Barbados, as well as to sing in five languages.
At the time of the Aero portrait she was 35 and married to her second husband Rene de Meo, who founded the Pheasantry Club in Chelsea, London in the 1930s. After the birth of her two sons, she continued to paint. Her son, Justin De Meo, commented that the artist Anthony Devas was "a regular at the Pheasantry". Synge had already been living near to the Kings Road when she met de Meo and it is likely that she became involved in the Aero campaign through her connections to Devas and other artists at the club.
Pamela de Meo painting in Venice, 1955. Photographer unknown. By permission
of Pamela Synge and family.
In 1955, the year that James A. Grant painted her portrait for the Aero commission, Synge embarked upon a painting trip to Venice. A newspaper clipping of the period features a strikingly similar sister portrait to the Aero commission which is now in Synge's possession. The article states:
Her portrait titled Mrs Rene De Meo [No.2] was shown at a Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibition in 1955 whilst the sister portrait by Grant was bought by J. Walter Thompson (JWT) to be featured in Aero chocolate advertising that year. The Aero portrait appeared in newspapers and magazines as well as in an early television advert at the birth of ITV. Unfortunately the whereabouts of this painting bought by Rowntree & Co. Ltd is unknown. Incredibly Synge still owned and and wore the same pair of gold earrings depicted in the paintings until her death in 2015, though sadly she did not remember much about her time as an Aero Girl. She exclaimed, "I prefer Belgian chocolates!" to Aero.
Synge's early artwork was exhibited at the Paris Salon, Royal Society of British Artists, The Chelsea Arts Society and more recently her work has been shown at the annual Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Justin de Meo told us that, "her painting was influenced in style by Cezanne, and the Russian painters Venetsianov and Serov".
Written by Kerstin Doble