The artist and collector Romy Rey grew up in Zurich in a Swiss family as the first child of a mechanical engineer turned patent attorney and a seamstress. Romy was fascinated with foreign cultures from an early age. Post-war austerity prevented her from learning archaeology, so she completed an apprenticeship and diploma in commerce instead. On her initiative, Romy subsequently relocated to Geneva to study, excelling in Latin and contemporary languages.
During travels with her brothers Hans Ulrich and Werner, she discovered Vienna, Athens, and parts of the former Ottoman Empire. The cultural diversity of Paris attracted Romy, where she worked as a translator. It was there she fell in love with the English bookseller John Prescott. In the mid-1960s, she followed him to London, where together (as business partners) they managed two well-known bookshops in Hampstead and Richmond for over 35 years.
In private conversations with Sir David Attenborough, Romy felt encouraged to follow her curiosity of exploring exotic cultures. She began collecting tribal art through friends and attended specialist fairs and auctions. By the 1990s, Romy had embarked on distant journeys to India, Morocco, Yemen, New Mexico and Guatemala. She had lived in Mexico, following the ancient footsteps with her guide and friend, Nicanor Marban. Her curated book collection grew to thousands of non-fiction books on all branches of anthropology and artisanry.
Meanwhile, she learned the craft of still-life oil painting from her romantic partner and British artist, Brian Davies. Romy produced colourful artwork to synthesise her appreciation of the many individual artefacts she had acquired, with her travel impressions and fascination with motifs from present, and lost, civilisations. During 45 years of her life until the day of her sudden passing, Romy established and treasured her vast artefact collection in her riverside townhouse residence in Richmond, Surrey (West London).
Romy will be missed by her dearest family members, many close friends and acquaintances for her genuine interest in and deep knowledge of anthropology and history and her respect toward artisanry of any kind.