February 2, 2014

Reminiscing

Hopes Nose" from near Teignmouth, Devon,

Leslie Harcourt Kent (1890-1980) was a prolific artist.  He painted over a 1000 works with displays in many galleries. Many of them are still hanging in the houses of his children and grandchildren today. His legacy. I know this because I have grown up surrounded with them. He was my grandfather. 
He is probably best known for his seascapes and studies of boats.

Bembridge


Titchfield Haven, Hillhead
http://www.markmitchellpaintings.com/leslie-kent-1890-1980-titchfield-haven-hillhead-sold/
A colourful study of beached and sailing boats bathed in the golden light of late afternoon, this canvas is typical of Kent’s work. Primarily a painter of coasts and seascapes, he was adept at describing the movement of choppy water, mimicking its translucence and reflective qualities, and reproducing in graphic painterly strokes effects of cloud against the sky. His compositions are often complex arrangements of form and tone, belying their apparent simplicity.
He also painted landscapes, in which the panoramic sweep and muted greens appear to have an affinity with railway and Shell posters of the 1920s and ’30s.
Biographical details
Leslie Kent (1890-1980) was educated at Leeds University, and then from 1918-20 studied with Frederick Milner (1863-1939) in the artists’ colony at St Ives. Presumably it was from Milner that he learnt to depict the transparency of water, and the ephemeral effects of weather and light with such facility. Kent exhibited at the Royal Academy, the New English Art Club, the Royal Society of British Artists, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Royal Scottish Academy and the Paris Salon.
Works in public collections include At Keyhaven, Hampshire (Cornwall, National Maritime Museum).
- See more at: http://www.markmitchellpaintings.com/leslie-kent-1890-1980-titchfield-haven-hillhead-sold/#sthash.Jw95gsSE.dpuf
We shared a special relationship. In hindsight, this was all the more special as I was adopted. His only granddaughter among the five of us. I will always treasure the memories of the time I spent at their house in Radlett, enjoying the sanctuary of his studio. The smell of oil paints and linseed, palette knives and the myriad of brushes he used to craft his work. Easels and canvases and the huge windows that let in the special northern light of southern England. He taught me the basics of drawing in that studio.  Later, he helped pay my fees so that I could go to his old school, Bedales. We would sit in his studio and he would relive his school days through my stories.  He and his sister went there in the early 1900's.. it was a coeducational boarding school....

Bedales, Petersfield, Hampshire
Bedales was founded by J H Badley in 1893 to be a humane alternative to the authoritarian regimes typical of late-Victorian public schools.
Although Mr Badley's ideas were highly radical for England at that time, in retrospect he can be seen as part of a wider European reform movement (he was the contemporary of Montessori and Steiner).
The school became fully co-educational in 1898; students were given a formal voice by 1916, when the School Council was formed.

It wasnt until much later that I learned he started the fire brigade, the Bedales Corp and started the School Magazine - The Bedales Chronicle....

In 1993 I returned to Bedales to attend the centenary of the school and see his art hanging there specially. It was pretty special.

Seaside Fair
Sailing in the Solent
Corfe Hills from Poole Harbour
Sailing Days
Sailing Boats on The Clyde
There are more thumbnails of his work here.
http://www.artnet.com/artists/leslie-kent/past-auction-results
http://www.invaluable.com/artist/kent-leslie-weprsfolwp


Some of his work hangs in British displays
National Maritime Museum Cornwall Discovery Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall, England,
At Keyhaven, Hampshire
and also

HMS 'Barham' Offshore

This place would love us... but we are not selling!http://www.british-arts.com/artists-we-buy/leslie-kent-marine-paintings-wanted.html

One of my favourites hangs at my parent's house.
Moonlight over the Pacific was painted on the boat to New Zealand in the 1930's.
I first wrote about it here:http://fourpawsandwhiskers.blogspot.co.nz/2008/12/christmas-pets.html

Moonlight Over the Pacific

The last time I saw him was in 1976. After three months visiting them in the UK I returned to NZ to continue with fourth year vet school. He gave me some money to buy a present so I got a lovely Scheaffer fountain pen and had it inscribed with my name. Fiona Kent.  I used it through all my lectures and exam finals for the next two years and I still use it for special letters nearly forty years later!
Thanks Grandpa. You are certainly not forgotten.

6 comments:

  1. Magnificent work, thank you for sharing.

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  2. What a lovely, lovely tribute to a prolific and sensitive artist. THanks for the peek! Have you thought of writing the biography?

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    1. There have been a few books written about him and his family - and my cousin did a special book with pictures of all his work as a sort of biography.... :)

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  3. One of the things I love about Blogland is the opportunity to read about people's lives: in this case yours and your Grandfather's. I knew of Bedales and I knew you had been there but I knew nothing about it. So, in addition to the lovely tribute, you have given me (and doubtless others) both pleasure and education.

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  4. I have an oil by your grandfather entitled "Fishing Boats, Southwold" which is one of my favourite pictures. Many thanks for sharing about the man behinds the art. Are the books on your family still available? I have drawn a blank on ABE and Amazon.

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    1. Hi Robert...
      Good question - we all just got copies! You could write to my cousin Christopher - http://chkent.co.uk/
      His father wrote the books and Chris illustrated many of them so I am sure he would know if there are any copies around:)
      Good luck
      Let me know how you get on!

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