John Addyman was a watercolourist, ceramicist and an influential art teacher in Colchester. A figure in the post-war generation of British artists, Addyman is seen as an heir of John Nash and the tradition of Welsh and East Anglican landscape painting. Born in Wallasey, Cheshire he first studied art at Wallasey School of Art (1945-49) and then specialised in graphic design and illustration under John Nash (the younger brother of Paul Nash), Edward Bawden and John Minton at the Royal College of Art, London (1949 -1952). His teaching career began at Swansea College of Art, Wales and was established when he moved from Wales to Essex when he was invited by John O’Connor to teach at Colchester School of Art, and when he worked with John Nash at Abingdon Summer School and Flatford Mill Centre. Addyman has maintained a lasting legacy in Essex; as a keen piano player he founded the Colchester Jazz Club and in 1967 he became a member of the management committee at Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury and established the print studio that, 50 years on, continues to support emerging talent and creativity in the region. From 1969-70 Addyman also taught in the History of Art department, University of Essex where he focused his research upon Constable. This resulted in his participation in a programme by Anglia Television in 1988 called Constable in the 80s where Addyman reinterpreted the views of Constable’s paintings in his own lexicon. Addyman returned to live on a farm estate in west Wales where he and his wife Madeline set up an arts centre and organised an art exhibition Proteus in 1989 that included craft, art and performance from the region.
Addyman’s early career in Wales had a lasting resonance in his artistic development. The impact of the costal rock forms was direct; he reflected that he ‘came to life visually in Wales… As the activity of Port Talbot had a rough, dynamic quality, so my landscape was set against an industrial background which I think gave it a strength’. While teaching in Essex, Addyman became acquainted with the East Anglican landscape tradition and it was the combination of these two influences that shaped his unique, immediate and intuitive responses to the British landscape, which is epitomised in the subtle yet confident handling of watercolour in Bridal Path Gt Bromley. Colours and marks, in this Kent landscape, are applied with apparent looseness and rapidity. As if made in a burst of inspired creativity, hues run freely in the painting giving the panorama a feeling of fragility or of a fleeting moment. This impression of impermanence is counterbalanced by the structural translation of the topography in the composition, which reveal not only Addyman’s formalist research, but also his technical apptitude for the medium.
John Addyman’s works are housed in a number of regional and national UK institutions such as the National Museum of Wales, Gainsborough House, Ipswich, and City of Coventry.
- 1955 New Art Centre, London (solo)
- 1959 The Minories (solo)
- 1967 Wivenhoe Arts Centre (solo)
- 1961 Oxford Union (group show with John Nash and Edward Middleditch)
- 1980 Fitzroy Gallery, London (solo)
- 1991 ‘Work in Wales’ Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury, Suffolk
- 2001 Chappel Galleries, Essex (solo retrospective)
Buckman, David., ‘John Addyman: Painter and ceramic artist’, The Independent 28/08/06
Anglican Encounter, June 9-25 1982, Blackman Havey Ltd, London
John Addyman Retrospective, 13 October – 3 November 2001, Chappel Galleries, Essex