Miriam Wilkinson was born on 30 Oct 1920 and grew up in Dukinfield on the border between Cheshire and Lancashire. During her lifetime she created many beautiful paintings and silk tapestries, along with some poems and one or two short stories. Not much is known about Miriam's early life, apart from some sparse information in her early poetry which dates back to about 1936. Much of Miriam's artwork is based on folkloric or mythological themes. Her literary influences include: Wordsworth, William Blake, J. R. R. Tolkien and the children's books of A. A. Milne.
During the early sixties, and possibly also the late fifties, Miriam would visit the public houses around Trafalgar square in Ashton-Under-Lyne, sketching portraits of old men. She would then transform these drawings into large oil paintings. In 1961 one of these portraits caught the attention of L. S. Lowry, who had been asked to judge a national housewives painting competition organized by The Sunday People. Miriam was awarded the first prize, and enjoyed a fortnight holiday for two in Dubrovnik with her husband Cyril Wilkinson.
For many years Miriam worked as a sewing machinist. She had a reputation for being the fastest seamstress in Manchester, finishing well ahead of the other machinists. After a day of sewing shirts; she would come home, replace her cotton reel with silk, and begin working on her tapestries. It is believed that Miriam was the first person ever to create such tapestries, using silk thread on a sewing machine. This claim has yet to be discredited.
In the mid sixties, Miriam was diagnosed with a severe case of pneumonia and had to spend several days in Hospital. During her illness she had a visionary dream in which she saw two tunnels, each leading to a different future. This dream marked a turning point in Miriam's life. After making a full recovery, she became more serious about her art. She also became more involved with social issues and was an active campaigner in the fight against drug addiction.
Around about 1982, shortly after the death of her husband, Miriam moved to New Quay in South Wales. She had long been suffering from asthma and the doctor had told her that the sea breeze air would do her some good. She continued writing poetry for a few years, but her health deteriorated towards the end of the decade and she passed away on 25 October 1989.
After her funeral, some of Miriam's art went to family members and the rest was distributed among the people who had attended the wake. The Bangellame became the property of Miriam's grandson Nicholas Wilkinson. A few years later a scrapbook with some of Miriam's poetry turned up, along with a tapestry called The Vision. These items are now in the possession of her granddaughter Sandra Wilkinson.
Many of Miriam's writings portray a joyful optimism in the face of adversity. She was a spiritually motivated person, with a keen interest in philosophy and ancient mythology. Miriam is survived by her four grandchildren, Nicholas, Sandra, Joshua and Liam; and her great granddaughter Amber Hennessy.