Diana Joll: a dear friend and supporter

Diana Joll, who passed away peacefully in her apartment at The Regency Town House on 4 October 2019, was well-know to many in Brighton & Hove. Some remember her from the time when she worked for the Social Services Department. Others met Diana following her retirement when she became increasingly active in the community, especially with The Friends of Brunswick Square and Terrace.

Outdoor photograph of an elderly woman wearing a green and black striped jacket, with a green scarf tied loosely around her neck.

Diana was also known to many beyond our city, as the editor of the Silhouette Collector's Club Newsletter and as the world’s leading authority on British portrait silhouette history.

An avid collector almost her whole life, in early childhood Diana’s focus was on metal figures to make a farmstead. In her second decade, she favoured ceramic rabbits. Later, her collecting interests ranged across jewellery, dress, objets d’art, card cases, postcards and more. In the early 1960s she developed a passion for silhouettes, an art form that would come to consume her time and interest.

Diana’s particular concern for local history led her to support the restoration of the town house she partly occupied, during the long process of its transformation into the heritage centre now known as The Regency Town House.

Diana played a pivotal role in enabling our development, allowing us to disassemble the apartments introduced to the property in the 1950s and re-establish the house as it would have been in the late Regency period. Without her enthusiasm and passion for the project and her very active support, we would not exist. We will be forever grateful for Diana’s encouragement.

During the latter part of her life, staff and volunteers at The Regency Town House were able to collaborate with Diana to assemble what would become the world’s most extensive online resource about portrait silhouette art. It can be found here: www.profilesofthepast.org.uk.

We plan to dedicate a part of the Town House to the continued study of silhouette history, creating the Diana Joll Silhouette Centre - equipped with original art, research literature and working facsimiles of historic silhouette machines. In this way, we aim to permanently celebrate Diana’s contribution to the knowledge and conservation of silhouette art and establish a national centre for the genre.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Diana’s family and to her many friends as we share the pain of her loss.

Nick Tyson, Curator, The Regency Town House.