Biography | His story | Exhibitions | Photographs

FREDERICK C DIXON  in his own words. c 1985


Frederick C DixonPortrait of FC Dixon, early 1920's

Introduction: training at the RCA 1924-28

William Rothenstein: Principal of the RCA

The Staff at the RCA

Fellow Students at the RCA

Social Backgrounds of the students

Charles Tunicliffe reminiscences




My first training in art lasted four years and was at the Derby School of Art and Crafts (Principal John Platt ARCA, later DS Archives ARCA) from where I gained the (then) Board of Education Certificates in Drawing and, in my fourth year, Pictorial Design.

In 1924 with the backing of my parents and a small scholarship from Derby Education Authority, I applied for entry to the  School of Engraving, Royal College of Art, London and was accepted. I trained there from 1924-28. Malcolm Osborne RA was the Professor of Engraving and Job Nixon, a winner of the Prix de Rome Scholarship in Engraving 1920, was his assistant lecturer. I was awarded my Diploma in Engraving in 1927 and spent 1928 in the Pedagogy course.

During my time at college I exhibited an etching of The British Museum Portico, Night at the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1926. This same etching was the one chosen by Sir Muirhead Bone, who had been commissioned by William Deacons Bank to choose prints for the walls of their Pall Mall branch. Other prints were by well-known etchers of the day, such as Sir Muirhead himself, Stanley Anderson, Francis Dodd, E Lumsden, C R W Nevinson, Job Nixon, Henry Rushbury, Randolp Schwabe, William Strang RA and his son Ian Strang and other artists.

Two more etchings of mine: Putney Hill, Sunday Morning and A London St, were exhibited at the New English Art Club exhibition of 1927. These two etchings were reproduced and received favourable comment as ?comprehensible modernity? in The Sphere of March 1927. In the same year I had a mezzotint, an aquatint and a drypoint accepted for the Royal Academy annual exhibition.

In addition to exhibiting as mentioned above, I have exhibited work at Derby and Nottingham art galleries under a scheme sponsored by Sir Joseph Duveen in the late twenties and early thirties.

More recently I had etchings in February/March 1983 of British Printmakers in the 1920s and 1930s at The Parkin Gallery, London, one of which was used for the cover of the invitation to the private view. The prints sold well and Michael Parkin has since been selling my prints from his gallery.

The British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings has in its collection four of my prints (Regent Street;  Putney Hill, Sunday Morning; A London Street and the British Museum Portico); and The Museum of London Department of Paintings, Prints and Drawings has a similar set.

Two of my prints, an etching ?Putney Hill, Sunday Morning? and a wood engraving ?The Back Street Church? were included in the exhibition to mark the 150th Anniversary of Printmaking from The Royal College of Art held at the Barbican Gallery in June/July 1987. Both prints were also reproduced in the commemorative catalogue of the exhibition but in each case they were catalogued as artist unknown. At least four people have informed the person in charge that I was the artist and I also wrote to the gallery and to Alistair Grant, the Professor of the Printmaking Department, but the labels in the exhibition were not changed ? rather to my annoyance. However I was pleased to have received through the post a complimentary catalogue of the exhibition.

 

WILLIAM ROTHENSTEIN

I believe that after Rothenstein had been appointed Principal of the RCA there was some reorganisation and new appointments were made on the staff but I do not know the facts apart from the appointment of Malcolm Osborne as Professor of the School of Engraving and Job Nixon as assistant lecturer. Presumably Sir Frank Short had retired after deservedly earning the reputation of reviving interest in original etching, engraving, mezzotint and other printing processes, and of building up a very fine and well-equipped engraving school.

I believe Rothenstein?s main aim was to improve the standard of art and craft in the college, possibly in rivalry with the Slade School and the Royal Academy School. He was not greatly in sympathy with the idea of the college being there just for the training of teachers of art; he wanted the students ? especially the best ? to think of themselves as artists and craftsmen first and foremost and to aim at earning their living as such, though there was a pedagogy department in the college run by Fred Richards and later by Dudley Heath. I don?t think there is any doubt that he raised the standards, even though the majority of students became teachers of art, either in art schools, training colleges or schools of general education.

Rothenstein was Professor of Painting with Alan Gwynne Jones as assistant lecturer. Randolp Schwabe that fine draughtsman  taught in the life rooms as did E Constable Alston, and later W T Monnington, winner of the Prix de Rome Scholarship in Printing in 1922. Thomas Derrick and
E Dinkel were in charge of mural decoration.

Professor Tristram, noted for his researches in medieval wall painting, was Professor of the Design School with Paul Nash  perhaps especially noteworthy for his paintings of the 1st World War ? as visiting lecturer, and I believe, Edward Johnson as visiting lecturer in Calligraphy. I cannot remember who was lecturer in Stained Glass but (William) Staite Murray was in charge of Pottery and Rico Capey of Fabric Printing.

E Cole, notable for his sculptures on the new County Hall, was Professor of Sculpture with Henry Moore as assistant lecturer.

Malcolm Osborne RA, RE was Professor of the School of Engraving and Job Nixon, winner of the Prix de Rome Scholarship in Engraving 1920, was assistant lecturer.

Since I was in the School of Engraving I had no real experience of Rothenstein as a teacher, though I do remember one occasion when, as Principal, he came round the School of Engraving and criticised my introduction of Felix the Cat, as a minor element, in a drypoint self-portrait I was working on and he advised me to remove it. Thinking it over I agreed with him. Interviewing me at the end of my third year he encouraged me to make my living by my etchings but there were two arguments against this: first, I was a slow worker, always rather a disadvantage, and second, about this time the bottom fell out of the etching market ? as referred to in J Niall?s biography of Charles Tunnicliffe.

From time to time Rothenstein invited students to his home in Notting Hill. He was fond of playing chess and invited another of my friends, Albert Stafford, also a chess player, to join him in a game. Another friend Edward Payne was invited, partly perhaps because Payne?s father (Henry Payne) was an artist whose home was in the Cotswolds where Rothenstein too had a country cottage. One of Henry Payne's works was the mural decoration in tempera in the Chapel of Madresfield Court, Worcestershire, the home of the Earl and Countess of Beauchamp. My friendship with Edward Payne also brought to mind a curious coincidence with regard to his father. Some years before going to the college I had bought a diary which had end papers taken from two paintings by Henry Payne depicting two historic incidents from the War of the Roses.

During one summer "Rothy" invited Gerald Ososky to his home in the Cotswolds to do some painting. Now Ososky came from the crowded streets of the East End, a seething mass of humanity one might say.  A day or two after his arrival, Ososky took his paints, canvas and an easel and found a subject in a secluded valley. It was a still day, and Ososky gradually became aware of the sunlit stillness around him. He seemed all alone in a silent world. No other human being could be seen. He experienced a feeling of panic. Gathering up his paints, easel and canvas he fled back to Rothenstein's home and human contact. This is the story as Ososky told it to me.

Ososky remains in my memory for another reason. I used often to walk in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and was struck by the beauty and pattern of deep shadows under the great trees, with the sunlit sward in contrast, frequently enlivened by groups of people, or families with children sitting in the shade. Ososky was the only student I remember who saw the possibilities of such a subject and painted it.

On the recommendation of Rothenstein, Ososky painted a posthumous portrait in 1929 of Lord Haldane, former Secretary of State for War and Lord Chancellor, and President of Birkbeck College, who died in 1928. The portrait was for the college and Osoky received a fee of £100.

A rather amusing incident occurred concerning Professor Rothenstein while I was at the College. I was in digs in the Fulham Road, along with two other RCA students. Miss Avenal (note: F C Dixon did a pencil sketch of her - the Glover family have it in their collection), who let the rooms, was a rather small elderly, well-spoken woman, with soft, kindly features, who had perhaps seen better days. She used to refer to herself as an old grub and it is true she did potter about the house in rather old clothes.

It was the time of year when the College Sketch Club was holding its annual exhibition in an interior courtyard of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The three of us thought it would be a nice gesture if we obtained an invitation to the Private View for Miss Avenal, which we did.

Now it was well known that Rothenstein liked to get to know anyone who became prominent in the world of art, literature, science etc with a view to drawing their portraits, which no doubt formed a valuable part of his income, especially in his younger days. About this time a Mrs Willoughby was being talked about in artistic and intellectual circles in regard to her artistic achievement.

The day of the Private View arrived and I made my way through the V&A Museum to the site of the exhibition. As I entered, I suddenly stood stock-still, astonished! There was Miss Avenal, dressed in the height of Edwardian Fashion, with a picture hat decorated with ostrich feathers, a feather boa, and a beautiful dress. I crossed over to greet her and compliment her. After a moment or two I became aware of someone at my elbow. It was the Principal. Dixon, he said Is the lady you are talking to Mrs Willoughby? Would you introduce me? I had to tell him that he was mistaken and that it was Miss Avenal. I did not inform him that she was my landlady. All the same, a very pardonable error I thought, glancing back at Miss Avenal.

Miss Avenal was a character. She had a tender heart for stray cats. She used to take them in, feed them well and give them a good time, and then, after having them put down, she brought them back to bury them in her garden. Perhaps this habit stemmed, unconsciously, from the fact that her garden backed on to Brompton Cemetery. She convulsed one of my friends, when she came out into her garden, carrying a dead cat on a tray and saying in a distressed voice: "It's not as stiff as I like them!"

I left her digs for some others, but one friend stayed on. It was as well he did, for she succeeded in setting her basement on fire, but he was able to get the fire brigade and save the situation.

Towards the end of my years at the College, William Rothenstein developed a heart condition and was forbidden to climb the stairs leading from the entrance to his room. Pascoe and Farthing, the two porters who had their den at the top of the stairs, used to meet him at the entrance when he arrived in the morning and carry him up the flight.

Pascoe and Farthing were two cheerful characters, at times rather like overgrown schoolboys  Pascoe particularly  and liked nothing better than exchanging back-chat with the students.

THE STAFF

Principal: Professor William Rothenstein (later Sir William)

Registrar: H L Wellington ( a popular lecturer on the History of Art)

Painting School & Life Drawing

Alan Gwynne Jones: Had rather a detailed style of painting. Also came to college in a single-seater, Cordon monocar.  Edward Halliday (see students) wrote a one-act play, a skit on College life, in which he (Halliday) cast as Gwynne Jones, trundled round the stage in a child?s pedal car. Another character asked Gwynne Jones (Halliday) how his latest painting was going on. Gwynne Jones replied, Nearly finished, I've only got 40,000 leaves to put in.

Gwynne Jones became an RA and lived to be 90, I believe. He became much admired for the sincerity, truth and artistry of his portraits.

Randolp Schwabe: had a slight stutter and used to teach mainly by demonstration. It was fascinating to see him draw, say, the leg or torso of the model. One wished he would continue and complete the figure, but, naturally  and wisely  he never did. Later he became Principal of the School of Art.

W T Monnington was the winner of the Prix de Rome Scholarship in Painting 1922. He would demonstrate and explain, and I thought him a good teacher. He ultimately became President of the Royal Academy. ( I think this is correct  I dont think there was more than one Monnington, artist).

E Constable Alston was I believe, a member of the old staff of the College before Rothenstein was appointed Principal. I remember he had a portrait in the New English Art Club exhibition of 1927.

Mural Decoration

Thomas Derrick, E Dinkel: I did not have any contact with these two lecturers

School of Design

Professor E W Tristram was noted for his researches into Medieval Wall Painting.

Paul Nash was, I believe, a visiting lecturer. He was very well known for his outstanding paintings of the 1st World War, with their truthful and at times, ironical, content. He was a versatile designer, water-colourist and wood engraver.

Fabric Printing

Rico Capey was in charge of the fabric design and printing.

Pottery

Staite Murray was in charge of the pottery

Stained Glass

Professor Anning Bell RA  (I am not sure if this is correct)

Calligraphy

Visiting Lecturer Edward Johnson  (I am not sure if this is correct)

Metal work, Silverware and Jewellery
??

School of Sculpture

Professor E Cole carved the sculptures on the County Hall, London.
Henry Moore, assistant lecturer ultimately became well-known worldwide for the originality and power of his work. Possibly the greatest sculpture of the 20th Century.

School of Engraving

Professor Malcolm Osborne RA, RE. A very courteous and gentlemanly man. He gave one technical advice, sometimes made suggestions with regard to composition but rarely, in my experience, criticised a student?s choice of subject.

Job Nixon  winner of the Prix de Rome Scholarship in Engraving 1920. Job Nixon's parents had kept a stall in Stoke on Trent market. He attended art classes in Stoke and, I believe, won a scholarship to the Royal College. He was a bit of a card, like the hero of that name in Arnold Bennett?s novel. I liked him very much.

I remember taking a print of my first etching at the College, of the Portico of the British Museum. The result rather disappointed me. Nixon, who was standing by saw the disappointment on my face. Here, give it to me he said. He inked the plate, wiped it carefully, then, taking a piece of soft muslin drew it slowly over the warm plate, until it dragged some of the ink out of the lines. Then, placing the faintly damped and softened paper over the plate, he ran it through the press. The result was a rich print and a revelation! There was little more work needed on the plate. That is how I learned about retroussage (?) with a soft muslin cloth.

School of Architecture

(Visiting) Professor Worthington. All new students took a course in architecture during their first term. Prof. Worthington came from Manchester and was a partner in the firm of his father Thomas Worthington architects. He was a breezy and popular lecturer with a fondness for illustrating a print with an anecdote, perhaps the more so if it introduced an expletive! A typical example is: an architect friend of his had the idea of using stone slates under the eaves of some houses he was building instead of the usual boards. Worthington went to look round the houses as they were being built, and talking to the foreman, remarked on this idea. The foreman?s response was: "Them darn archytecks again. More bloody fancyworks!"

It should be said that this habit was not overdone. All the same some of the girls did not care for it ? (in contrast to today when the media, including the quality papers and the BBC introduce swearwords and even four-letter words!)

Worthington admired Georgian Architecture and also that of Italian hill towns and after lecturing about them and showing slides, he had his class designing a Georgian village, and followed that up with an Italian Hill Town.

He did not neglect modern ideas and persuaded Chermayeff, an avant-garde architect, to come and lecture on the principles that govern the modern approach.

Hubert Worthington later became Sir Hubert and at a later date also married a student, Joan Banham, who was doing a full-time course in the School of Architecture during my time. She was awarded a Travelling Scholarship in 1927.

H J Harding was a full-time assistant lecturer in the School of Architecture.

STUDENTS

Students of the Royal College of Art who have subsequently fulfilled Rothenstein?s aim and hope of their being able to earn their living purely by their artistic talent although in some cases they may at first have had to do some teaching. (There may be others of whom I am not aware).

Henry Moore: Sculpture School
International reputation as a sculptor. Possibly the foremost sculptor of the 20th century.

Charles F Tunnicliffe: Painting & Etching Schools
Outstanding with regard to birds, nature and country subjects. Painter, water-colourist, etcher, wood-engraver, illustrator. An RA.

Ceri Giraldus Richards: Design School
Became one of our foremost avant-garde artists. Highly esteemed on the continent. Influenced by Picasso. (Note: F C Dixon did a pencil sketch of him - the Glover family have it in their collection)

Edward Bawden: Design School
A most versatile artist and designer. Murals, water colours, posters, illustrations, linocuts. An RA.

Eric Revilious: Design School, friend of Bawden
Another versatile artist and designer. Outstanding wood-engravings, water-colours, decorative designs on pottery, murals. Tragic death when quite young, in 2nd World War.

Edward Halliday: Painting School
Became an RA. Noted portrait painter. Painted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth 11.

Stanley R Badmin: Design School
Outstanding English Landscape artist in water colours; illustrator, etcher. Member of the RWS.

Albert Houthuesen: Painting School
Painter tending towards the avant-guarde. Given a chapter in Sir John Rothenstein?s ?Modern English Painters?. A television programme was also produced on him and his paintings. He married an RCA student named Deane, who would be one of the 1925 intake.

James Sylvester Holland: Painting School
Did a series of witty drawings for Shell Petrol advertisements in the press. Also played a part in the Festival of Britain exhibition of 1951.

Grace Golden: Design School
While still a student was commissioned by Percy Scholes, a well-known music critic, to do a series of wood engravings to be used on pianola rolls of music by various composers. Actually a very fine series. She became a painter, poster designer and illustrator. Exhibited at the RA 1936-40.
Two works in the Tate Gallery entitled:
i) Summer Evening, Embankment Gardens (acquired 1937 ? water colour)
ii) Free Speech (acquired 1940). Oil, Speakers Corner, Hyde Park.
Both Chantry (?) Bequest purchases.
The Museum of London also has a small collection of her works.

The majority of students would find jobs in education: such as Colleges of Art, Art Schools, Colleges of Education, Schools of General Education, both private and public. Some of these students who in due course occupied posts of distinction in this sphere are given below:

Arthur Dalby: School of Engraving
HMI for Art and Craft

Mildred Lockyer: Design School  Pottery
HMI for Art and Craft

J Anthony Betts
Head of the Art Department, Reading University

Douglas Percy Bliss
Principal, Glasgow School of Art

Meredith Hawes
Principal, Birmingham School of Art

Kenneth Holmes
Principal, Leicester School of Art

Hoskins
Principal, Coventry School of Art

Noel Spencer
Principal, Norwich School of Art

John Harwood
Principal, Sheffield School of Art

Hugh Moss
Principal, Gloucester School of Art

 Marlow
Principal, City of Stoke-on-Trent School of Art

Geoffrey Wedgewood
Head of Printmaking, Dept of Liverpool School of Art.

HALL OF FAME: THE THIGH ? RAYMOND COXON

Raymond Coxon was given permission to decorate the end wall of the corridor that was lined on one side by the students lockers. He chose as his subject the Expulsion from Eden. A nearly nude Adam and Eve were moving from left to right with Eve on the left and Adam on the right. Both had rather substantial proportions.

I can see Coxon now, walking along the tops of the lockers in order to get a more distant view to see whether his tone values, proportions etc were right.

I wonder whether the painting is still there?

SOCIAL BACKGROUNDS

I would judge that the majority of the students came from the Middle Classes. I knew a few who came from a working class background, and I would think that a number came from an Upper Middle Class background.

I don?t remember any strong political views being expressed or any political activity. I think the students were more absorbed in their art or craft than anything else. During the general strike of 1926, a small number of students volunteered to help keep services going and, if my memory is right, were sent to the docks. My recollection is that the majority carried on as usual; though I do not know to what degree students, who came to the college daily by bus or train, were able to continue. The buses manned by volunteers, had a flat rate of, I think, 6d, however short or long the journey.

It is true that there was something of a fashion for things Russian at that time. So far as art students were concerned I think this was more because, in the early days of the Revolution, leading Russian artists and sculptors were breaking new ground and producing daring, experimental painting and sculpture. Some years later the dead hand of the State imposed its official views on artists and sculptors and what they should do.

Russian writers and dramatists were also fashionable in intellectual circles: writers and dramatists such as Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, (Nikolay) Gogol , Chekhov and (Leonid) Andreyev.  Chekhov?s Three Sisters was produced at Barnes Theatre, and there was also a production of his Cherry Orchard in Russian, by Russian actors in the West End.

On a more popular note I seem to remember that the Russian fashion of head scarves was popular among women and girls.

At the Royal College, Barnett Freedman produced "He who Gets Slapped" by Andreyev. I remember being in the green room at the end of the dress rehearsal; Freedman marched in, flung his copy of the play up into the air, and cried, ?That?s the last bloody play I produce!?. The actual performance went quite well.

In those days it was the tradition that a one act play, or even two, should be produced before the big end-of-term dances, and also before the dances to welcome the freshers, early in the autumn term (the freshers were excited in return to produce a play before a dance later in the year). In my fourth year I produced Chekhov's one act play "The Proposal",  before the big end-of-term dance; with myself as the Father, Evelyn Gibbs as the Daughter and (?) Weightman as the suitor.  I felt quite flattered when a Russian student who was at the College complimented me on my performance.

NICK NAMES

So far as I know, nick names were not much in vogue at the College. I can only think of three. One was ?Stiffy? Chamberlain, a tall slender, good-looking girl with a straight back and beautiful light-auburn hair; the sort of girl who would make you think of ?private school or high school and jolly hockey sticks.? I don't know how she acquired the nickname. Perhaps it was the splendid way she held herself and her rather formal manner.

The second owner of a nickname was "Dozey" Goodwin, a student in the School of Architecture. I can only think that the other students in that school thought it fitted him.

The third nickname, if one can call it such, was the one applied by Douglas Percy Bliss in the College magazine (of which he was the editor) to Barnett Freedman and his cronies, namely "The Fauves" borrowed of course from the famous French group of artists of that name.

Two incidents occur to me that involved Dozey Goodwin. I think it was in the autumn term of 1924 that Queen Mary, together with a Lady-in-Waiting came to look round the College. She was met and escorted by the Principal. Several students, of whom I was one, were in the architecture studio (all the students spent part of their time during their first term studying architecture) with our drawings before us. The Principal introduced Professor Worthington to the Queen and her companion, and Professor Worthington said a few words about the course. Dozey Goodwin happened to be the student nearest the Queen, and she turned to look at his drawing. Dozey began to enlarge on it. Unfortunately he became too verbose and the Queen turned away while Dozey?s monologue tailed off!

One day I was in the gymnasium (see Sport**) along with Dozey and one or two other students, chattering about the apparatus. Dozey suddenly took it into his head to demonstrate the vaulting horse (he was plump and not very athletic). He dashed at the Springboard, gave a prodigious leap…..unfortunately he did not clear the vaulting horse! He was lucky to come off with only a few bruises instead of a broken neck.

Footnote:

Arthur Dalby had a nickname; not surprisingly, it was Dolly. Actually he had acquired it before he came to the College. Sometimes it gave rise to misunderstandings, as when he sent a telegram to a (male) friend who was wanting to meet him: "Why not stay the night" Dolly.?. To his friend this was perfectly clear but his friend's parents were obviously a bit uneasy, until he explained.

Winnie Tunnicliffe (nee Winnacott?) had a nickname. It was Paddy. I never heard any nicknames applied to Charles Tunnicliffe.

** Sport:  cannot find any notes of FCD?S about Sport, presume either lost or never written?

CHARLES TUNICLIFFE RA

For further information please see the website of the Charles Tunicliffe Society

I first got to know Charles Tunicliffe after I enrolled as a first year student, a fresher, in the Royal College of Art, South Kensington, in September 1924. I can see him now, in my mind?s eye, striding down the main corridor with buoyant and purposeful energy. He looked a countryman, rather plump and robustly built, with a roundish ruddy face with slightly protruding eyes which seemed to be looking ahead at some distant goal.

The purposeful energy revealed itself in several ways: for example, he was a regular attender at the College Life Classes, which were held from 4pm - 6pm, except on Wednesdays a half day. He usually drew with pen and wash, working, like the rest of the students, with intense concentration, but he always in my experience  completed his drawing before anyone else, and left the life-room at ten minutes to six!

He was an expert table-tennis player and, so I was told, won a competition sponsored by the Daily Mail. On occasion he would be seen in the lunch hour in the students common room, engaged in a fierce table-tennis battle with his opponent, to the accompaniment, at the other end of the room, of a duet of classical music being played on the piano by Ceri Richards  later to become known as one of our best avant-garde artists and Frederick Austin, destined to be a winner of the Prix de Rome Scholarship in Engraving in 1927.

His energy and concentration revealed itself in another context: a rumour went round the College that he met Winnie Winnacott one afternoon in the students common room and before the afternoon was out they were virtually engaged!

Charles was a student in the Painting School of the College and about 1925/6 he entered the competition for the Prix de Rome Scholarships in Painting, an award which gave the winner the means of further full-time study in Italy. The work of the students from various schools of art who entered for the competition was exhibited. I remember going to see the exhibition and overhearing a senior student from the RCA say to his companion that he was surprised at Tunnicliffe entering for the competition since his inspiration seemed so bound up with the English countryside and rural life. Of course a crucial factor in the award was the money that enabled one to continue one?s full-time study of art. All the same the senior student had a point, since an alien influence and surroundings (ie studying in Italy) can upset what had hitherto been a steady aim and purpose. However, Charles was unsuccessful and Edward Halliday, another RCA student, later to become an RA, was the winner.

As it happened, Charles soon found another source of financial backing. It came about in this wise: the School of Engraving at the RCA was the only school officially open for work on a Saturday morning. This gave students in other schools the chance to practice etching if they so wished. In fact, a limited number of artists not connected with the College were allowed to enrol. ( One of these was Hilda Cowham, the creator of the  at one time? well-known Cowham Kids). Charles seized the opportunity and produced several plates of such merit that H C Dickens, a firm of London Art Dealers, offered to publish his plates for a certain sum. Ian Niall also states in his biography of Tunnicliffe ?Portrait of a Country Artist that after obtaining his diploma in painting, with distinction, Charles was offered a further year?s scholarship at the RCA to practise etching. 

I remember one occasion when I was in the printing room of the Engraving School inking one of my plates prior to printing, and Charles was standing by waiting to follow me. Suddenly a girl of his year bounced up very excitedly and announced to him, Im engaged! Before he could answer she added, I know what you're going to say that my training here has been a waste of public money.
?It would have been a waste in any case Bowker, was his rejoinder. But the twinkle in his eye and the grin lurking around his lips indicated in what spirit she should take his raillery.  Incidentally the use of her surname only was not bad manners on his part. The students of the RCA at that time were very egalitarian and both men and women referred to each other by surname, unless of course they were close friends.

Today the point of Bowker's remark about her training being a waste of public money is perhaps lost. She evidently expected to become a wife and a mother and to abandon her career as an artist. The modern woman thinks of continuing her career after marriage and having children. It was different in the 1920s.

After finishing his course at the College and obtaining his Diploma in Painting, Charles continued to remain in London, working on his etchings. I remember meeting him in the Fulham Road and we paused to have a chat. The chief thing that I remember from our conversation was that he was longing to get back into the country, the source of his inspiration.

After several years I met him once more when he and Winnie were married and living in Nicholson Avenue, Macclesfield. My wife Christine and I had been invited to call and see them, though I forget the circumstances in which the invitation was made. At the time we were staying in her parent?s house at Halebarns. Her parents were away but an elderly friend of the family, Dorie Wild, was also staying at the house. The day we were to go to Macclesfield was warm and cloudy, with a threat of thunder. A storm blew up and my wife felt that she could not leave Dorie  who was nervous of the thunder ? alone in the house. So I set off on my own by bus.

I spent an enjoyable afternoon with Charles and Winnie. I remember them telling me how he had been going around making portrait drawings of the local farmers, and had shown me several of them. One farmer did not at all take to the idea and, according to Charles, saw him off the premises with a shot gun! (I was interested to note much later, that this incident is referred to in Niall?s biography of Tunnicliffe).

One of these portraits is reproduced in that delightful book Charles wrote and illustrated, entitled My Country Book, first published by The Studio in 1942. In that book he uses a fine range of techniques: chalk drawings, water colour, wood-engraving, scraper board. The cover jacket of the magpies in a hazel tree is a beautiful example of scraper board; and inside are magnificent wood-engravings such as The Shire Stallion, The Shorthorn Bull, and The Gander.

Before I left, Winnie produced a bottle of home-made wine and invited me to have a drink. Charles warned me that home-made wines are rather potent. At that time I seldom took any alcohol. However I succeeded in finding my way back to Halebarns without any contretemps!

That was the last time I saw Winnie and Charles. During the war he was an art master at Manchester Grammar School. Later they removed to a remote part of Anglesey, where a great many birds, especially seabirds were, so to speak, on their doorstep.

Looking back, Tunnicliffe seems to me to have been a tireless worker, living for his art, with every support from his wife. He produced a huge number of high-grade illustrations, many of them superb, not to mention his regular contribution of six water colours to the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy.

Although Charles Tunnicliffe's source of inspiration was that of a lover of the countryside and its denizens as seen by an artist/naturalist, I feel sure that  apart from advice and criticism of artists of established reputation on the Royal College staff he must have benefited from working among a body of highly gifted students devoted to their work; from the stimulation of London itself, its vitality, its great collections and from exciting exhibitions in private galleries, often by contemporary artists in the forefront of painting, sculpture and design.