John Charles Wilkinson RBA

1929 – 2022

John was born in Barnes, south west London where he spent his childhood with his parents and elder sister. John’s father built a bungalow on the Thames near Staines, where the family spent the summers and the Thames continued to hold a special resonance throughout his life. John remained in Barnes for the first part of the war where his father was an air raid warden. John recalled seeing the glow in the sky from the blitz from their back garden and in 1943 John was evacuated to Wells, Somerset. Following school at Bradfield, John completed his national service in the Engineers at Chatham.

In his early 20s John was accepted to study at the Bartlett School, UCL on the decoration course and during that time made several visits to Paris and its museums. He also went to Holland and enjoyed cycling in the very flat countryside. After graduating from UCL he went to the Royal Academy Schools to study drawing under Henry Rushbury RA and Peter Greenham RA.

Peter became a lifelong friend and later introduced John to his wife, Sarah Goodwin, an artist who had studied at the Byam Shaw. John’s first job was teaching at the Emmanuel School, south London. In 1962 he went on to teach at Farnham School of Art in Surrey and in 1963 he started teaching alongside Diana Armfield RA at the Byam Shaw School. In the same year John married Sarah, they went on to have two children. In 1971 John and his family moved from Strawberry Hill in Twickenham, to the rural village of Martin in Hampshire, where they cared for an eighteenth century farm house and planted an orchard. John continued to teach drawing and painting in Farnham, Barnes, Sheen and Richmond.

He exhibited many times at the RA summer exhibition and had three solo shows at Gallery 10, Grosvenor street, London, following painting trips to Crete. He also Exhibited at the RBA, where he became a member in the 1970s and later the secretary of the Society when Colin Hayes RA was president. John showed his work at the Llewelyn Alexander Gallery, London; Waterman Fine Art, London; the New Grafton Gallery, Barnes, and the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol. In later years he branched out from predominately landscape painting taking commissions for portraits and houses. His work is held in private collections in the UK and all over the world including Greece, America, China and Japan.

In 1991 John’s granddaughter was born who was a great joy to him.

Some of John’s happiest moments were spent painting under shady trees in the wonderful French landscape, alongside his wife.

A Memory from RBA Member David Paul Rowan:

“”To me he was the paradigm of what an educated English gentleman ought to be. I am so pleased he lived such a long life. He charmed nearly everyone he came across, delightful company.”

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John Charles Wilkinson RBA
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