The Raimbilli CousinsGayleen Aiken (1934 - 2005)


Non Extant

Original Location

Barre, Vermont


Barre, VT, United States

About the Artist/Site

Gayleen Aiken was an only child living in Barre, Vermont, yet her family grew exponentially due to her creative endeavors. Beginning in grade-school, Aiken began fashioning an imaginary extended family, called the “Raimbilli Cousins” using cardboard, collage, and crayons. Aiken viewed her imaginary cousins as a vicarious avenue for adventure. Using the cousins as a subject throughout her life, Aiken created illustrations featuring the 24 unique and frequently mischievous characters playing instruments, dancing, playing pranks, and frolicking amongst various backdrops. Aiken began focusing on art more intensely after her mother fell ill, using her art sales to provide support for her family. Aside from the cousins, of whom she also created nearly life-size representations out of cardboard, Aiken enjoyed depicting the Vermont countryside where she resided, as well as animals and pets, and occasionally herself. Aiken’s illustrations feature a hand-written caption for each drawing along with a brief autobiography that read along the lines of

 “By Gayleen Aiken. Artist, Comic-Cartoonist, Musician. I like granite sheds, plants, and mills. I like old player nickelodeon pianos, xylophones, organs, player pianos, harmonicas. I’ve been in Movie- Film. When we camp around helping relatives with properties, we miss our old fancy chandeliers, pretty wallpaper, old woodwork, the scenic country hills, attics, + more things. We might want to move back to one of our old big heirloom country houses and have a big art and hobby museum later sometime, maybe.”     

In 1985, Vermont-born director Jay Craven released a movie exploring the life and imagination of Gayleen Aiken in a film eponymously titled "Gayleen." Aiken’s artworks display a whimsical alternative reality that both emphasizes the joys of familial relationships and the childlike joy of simply experiencing the world. 

~Nikki Ranney, 2023



Gayleen Aiken - Online Exhibitions - Fort Gansevoort

Gayleen Aiken – U.S. Department of State

Rosenak, Chuck, and Jan Rosenak. Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of Twentieth-century American folk art and artists. New York: Abbeville, 1990.



cardboard, collage, crayon, pen,

Map & Site Information

Barre, VT us
Latitude/Longitude: 44.1970055 / -72.5020494

Post your comment


No one has commented on this page yet.