newton abbot art school

These photographs were taken in 1971 and show the last days of Newton Abbot Art School. My father, Nathaniel Davies (sitting fifth from the left in the second row) was a lecturer in painting, drawing and sculpture; he later went on to be the head of the Art School when it moved to Torquay. It looks like it would have been a cool place to study, or just hang out, and that group photo looks more San Francisco, counter-culture chic than South Devon. I sometimes wonder how different Newton Abbot might be if it still had a bohemian Art School in the town. Visiting lecturers included Terry Frost and Patrick Heron, who stayed at our house, other visitors included the naïve artist Scottie Wilson.

It was my Dad’s first job after he left Cardiff College of Art. His studies at Cardiff had been interrupted by the war. He was called up in 1942 and served with The Royal Corps of Signals in North Africa. At the end of the war he returned to Cardiff to complete his ATD and shortly afterward got the job at Newton Abbot with the help of a letter of recommendation from Ceri Richards, his drawing tutor at Cardiff.
My Dad teaching life drawing wih my Mum, Heather on his left
The Art School was housed in The Passmore Edwards Centre which has recently been refurbished and is partly the town’s library and partly a base for adult education. In a particularly nice completion of the circle my sister Naomi now runs Jewellery workshops in what was one of the old Art School workshops

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