Friday, July 24, 2020

About English artist: Norman Neasom

I don't recollect seeing the artwork of Norman Neasom RWS, RBSA (1915-2010) before - but having seen it I very much recommend you take a look too.

He was an English painter and art teacher - based in the Midlands - who produced intense observational drawings and paintings of people in landscapes and interiors. His paintings were very often involved with recording everyday activities and normal life and life events and sometimes the very odd thing that happens. (see below for more detail)
Norman Neasom’s paintings and drawings – like those of a number of other British artists over the past century or so, record both that old, quieter, simpler England, as well as its slow, gradual passing. In Neasom’s work, we can still discover men gathering hay by hand, two old gentlemen in tweeds out for a ride, or a farmer bringing in sheep with his dog. As his obituary in The Independent in 2010 observed, ‘Neasom’s was a benign, pastoral vision in a deeply English tradition.’
This is precisely the type of artwork which I have been known to lament NOT seeing very often at national open exhibitions by art societies.

I'm guessing he probably stopped being active in RWS and RBSA exhibitions before I started reviewing them as I plugged his name into my Google Search box (in the right column) and his name did not generate a reference to

Norman Neasom - cover of Messums catalogue of his work
Norman Neasom - cover of Messums catalogue of his work
The Snowdon Horseshoe from Capel Curig by Norman Neasom
gouache on a.b.
Norman Neason obviously developed a very good reputation as his estate is being exhibited by Messums (a notable art gallery in London) - but it closes today!

What I like particularly is you can see he recorded events in his own life and he regularly pops up in his drawings and paintings.

His work is described as belonging to the genre of British realist painting from the inter-war period. Messums suggest that this is a "somewhat underappreciated genre" whose leading light was Stanley Spencer.

Messum comments further about the genre
With more than a hint of nostalgia, it is a period of British art that is gaining increasing attention: in 2017 the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art even devoted a whole exhibition to the ‘movement’ (if one can call it such), showcasing over fifty British realists from the 1920s and ‘30s, including Gerald Leslie Brockhurst, Meredith Frampton, Winifred Knights and Edward Wadsworth – as well as Spencer, Fleetwood-Walker and Tucker. One might also draw Eric Ravilious into this group, with his closely-observed watercolours devoted to the English countryside of the inter-war years.
I must confess when I first saw his work they made me think of Stanley Spencer (minus religious connotations) at one end of the spectrum and Beryl Cook at the other (particularly in relation to a lot of interior scenes.

Perhaps the artist these works most closely resemble is Beryl Cook, and her comical paintings of hen nights and tea parties. It is interesting to note then, that when the mayor of Redditch met Neasom towards the end of the artist’s life and remarked that some of his work reminded him of Cook’s, Neasom replied, ‘She copied me.’

More about Norman Neasom

Information and quotations below are either from his official website or from the Messums Catalogue (see above)
Norman Neasom RWS, RBSA, SAS has gained success and recognition as a professional watercolour painter exhibiting at the Royal Academy, The Royal Watercolour Society, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, The Mall Gallery London, Chris Beetles Gallery London and the Stratford Art Society. His work is also in the permanent collections of Her Majesty the Queen, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Royal Watercolour Society, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and the West Midlands Arts Council.


  • Born: 7 November 1915 and brought u on the family farm at Birchensale Farm in Brockhill Lane on the outskirts of Redditch, Worcestershire.
his earliest memory, recorded in his illustrated 2004 memoir "Birchensale: Farm Memories in Pictures", recalls searchlights seeking out Zeppelins attempting to bomb Birmingham in October 1917.
  • 1931(?): Left school at 16 and went to study at Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts 
  • left college and worked for various illustrated magazines in London – including Punch

  • 1939 - returned to Birchensale, to work on the family farm on the outbreak of war. He also volunteered with the St John Ambulance, and by night served with the local Civil Defence. 
With Birchensale lying on the flight path of German bombers once again heading for Birmingham, one day incendiary bombs were dropped upon the farm – an incident he captures in one of the works in this exhibition.
War paintings of Norman Neasom - in Messums Exhibiion

  • 1946 - returns to Birmingham College of Art - to teach 
  • 1949 - married and honeymooned in Torquay
  • 1954 - moves to Redditch School of Art (in the county where he grew up - and eventually became Head of Department
  • 1950-60s - holidayed in Salcombe - and painted some of his best paintings
  • 1979 - retired to devote all his time to painting, and became a member of the Royal Watercolour Society
  • He continued to illustrate books through to the end of his long life - doing illustrations for 40 books.
  • Died: 22 February 2010 - see his obituary in The Independent - "Norman Neasom: Artist and inspirational teacher whose work was rooted in the English landscape"
His work is in the permanent collections of Her Majesty the Queen, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Royal Watercolour Society, the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and the West Midlands Arts Council.

Where can you see artwork by Norman Neasom

As indicated the exhibition at Messums finishes today but you can see his artwork is on the websites of the following:
The Estate of Norman Neasom is represented by David Messum Fine Art Ltd. Messum’s have a long history of developing and exhibiting artist estates and they are delighted to have been asked to mange the Estate of Norman Neasom. An inaugral exhibition was held at their London gallery in January 2018 and the next major show is scheduled for July 2020.

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