CHAPMAN, (Kenneth) George

1908 - 1993

George Chapman

Born at East Ham, London on 1 October 1908, third child of William Chapman, a Superintendent on the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and his wife Jane. He attended Shebbears College in Devon where his profound deafness hindered his education and in 1924 he attended Gravesend School of Art. He then joined Crawford's in 1928 training as a commercial designer under Ashley Havingden. During the 1930s he worked on numerous advertising campaigns for Jack Beddington at Shell-Mex and also for London Transport working alongside Sutherland, Nash, Piper, Freedman and Betjamen. Whilst he was to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle there was little satisfaction for him in graphic design and in 1937 he gave up a successful career to satisfy a desire to become a painter; firstly as a student at the Slade but after a year he was persuaded by his friend Barnett Freedman to transfer to the Royal College of Art, studying painting under Professor Gilbert Spencer. During World War II he taught at Worcester School of Art, his deafness exempting him from active service. He returned to advertising in 1945 working for Jack Beddington at Prentice, Colman and Varley. Two years later he married Kate Ablett, whom he had met on a visit to Norwich School of Art and in 1951 they left London and moved to Vine Cottage, Great Bardfield, Essex during which time he taught graphic design at the London College of Printing, Central School of Art and Colchester Art School. At Great Bardfield George took an active part in the thriving artistic community that included Edward and Charlotte Bawden, Michael and Duffy Rothenstein, John Aldridge, Bernard Cheese, Kenneth Rowntree and Marianne Straub. He contributed regularly to their famous 'Open House' exhibitions, at a time when he was making various experiments in painting in search of technique and subject matter. In 1953 Chapman rented a studio in the Rhondda in Wales and his first one-man show in London was at the Piccadilly Gallery in 1956, the year that saw the swan song of 'Kitchen Sink' realism when Greaves, Middleditch, Smith and Bratby were chosen to represent Britain in the Venice Biennial. George Chapman's pictures of the Rhondda are a record of a particular place and time. In 1957 he was awarded the Gold Medal for Fine Art at the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales and in 1960 St George's Gallery Prints published the Rhondda Suite of etchings, undoubtedly among the most important prints ever to concern themselves with the industrial landscape of Wales. In 1969 he moved to Aberaeron, gave up painting and severed ties with his galleries but did return to the Rhondda in 1980, with a commission for a new painting and he worked with excitement in renewed confidence which resulted in a one-man show at the Reynolds Gallery, Plymouth in 1981. He exhibited at the Ipswich Art Club in 1980 'Seated Pregnant Nude'. He married firstly at Westminster in 1938, Dorothy May Codling, and had one son, the marriage was dissolved in 1943 and secondly at Norwich in 1947, Kathleen Ablett and had two further sons and a daughter. He died at his home near Aberaeron on 28 October 1993 being survived by his wife Kate and his four children.










Works by This Painter