Sydney Mary Thompson: life and works

By Gwylym Owen

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Sydney Mary Thompson (also known as Madame Christen) (1847 – 16 July 1923) was an Irish geologist, botanist and artist.

She is a member of the Belfast Rambler Sketch Club and the Belfast Art Society. Her father Henry Thompson, a mining engineer from Sydney, Australia (Liverpool, New South Wales), died in a mine disaster before Mary was born. In 1968, she married Carl Thompson, a civil engineer, who later became known as Mary Eleanor Thompson.

She was a friend and co-author of Northern Ireland geologist Mary Andrews, and together they worked on glacial irregularities, collecting samples, mapping and marking irregularities in order to determine the direction of ice flow in Ulster. Thompson has received numerous awards for her art, and was a member of the Belfast Ramblers Sketch Club and the Belfast Art Society, of which she became a patron in 1921. Thompson, who considers her creation to be her “quiet time”, makes antique baskets and reproductions.

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