Sybil and Betts: Requiem for a Friendship

As 80 year old friends and artists, Sybil and Betts share over 50 years of memories and adventures – from the joys and challenges of raising their children together to the adventures of starring in a documentary about notorious motorcycle gang “Hell’s Grannies”.

However, slowly and gradually, Betts began to notice gaps in her past and now present. It was her brain and it was Alzheimer’s disease. An ‘all hands deck person’ and a loyal best friend, Sybil is determined to help Betts experience, every moment to its fullest, no matter what happens.

Through it all, Betts continues to paint, providing us with glimpse into her constantly changing inner vision of a deep pool from her past, expressive present, and unfolding future. Told one painting at a time, we capture a glimpse to a world where memory is secondary and the artist’s journey and human spirit reigns.

“We who have our full mind discount people with Alzheimer’s and you can’t discount this…. This artist is still expressing herself”.

About Sybil Rampen
Artist, writer, teacher and historian, Sybil Rampen was born in the year of the Great Depression. After graduating in Art and Archaeology from the University of Toronto, in 1947 she drove a motor powered bicycle across the French Alps and studied art in Paris and London. In 2000 she wrote a book entitled The Grannies and was the main subject in the documentary about her adventures. She still lives on the farm on which she was born and raised five sons. Battling politicians and developers and time, Sybil transformed her family home into an urban oasis and artist’s retreat, complete with gallery, art and architecture library, museum, art school, art studio and full wading pool and winter garden.

About Betts Engel
Betts Davis was born in 1927 and raised in Toronto during the Great Depression and WW II. After completing a BA at the University of Toronto, and marrying the love of her live Herbert Engell they finally settled in Oakville, Ontario and raised four children. In 1970 Betts received her Masters’ in social work from U of T and taught early childhood development at Sheridan College for 18 years.

Betts came to art later in life through her best friend Sybil Rampen at the Joshua Creek Studio in Oakville Ontario as well as other adventures through the “Hell’s Grannies”. Over the years she has developed her own unique style. She paints with intense concentration from an inner space. Her images and colours emerge from memory and life experiences. Her recent work can be interpreted to reveal the secret world of those dealing with Alzheimer’s.


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