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David Prentice

 (1936 - 2014)
David Prentice was active/lived in England.  David Prentice is known for landscape, mountainscape painting.

David Prentice

Biography from the Archives of askART

Following is an obiturary of Andrew Dempsey, Monday 2 June 2014

The painter David Prentice, who has died aged 77, had an unusual trajectory as an artist. In the 1960s, when he was one of the founders of the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, his work was hard-edged, abstract, close to the Op art of a period when young artists and architects were full of ideas for new beginnings. David's art was about new forms, his hero Piet Mondrian.

In the late 1980s, when he returned to full-time painting after a career teaching others, it was to the tradition of English landscape painting. For many years thereafter, his subject was the Malvern Hills, which he knew intimately from countless walks with sketchpad in hand. The forms of the hills were a constant, the weather constantly changing. He painted with the concern for structure and surface that had characterised his earlier work. The watercolours, often done on the spot, were more specific but the paintings done in the studio were as carefully constructed as ever.

It was not long before he was winning prizes (the Sunday Times watercolour competition in 1990, for example) and having exhibitions (more than 20 solo shows since the early 1990s, many with the John Davies Gallery in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire). In time his subjects expanded to include dramatic cityscapes of London, especially of the river, and the landscape of Skye, or rather its approaches – the "Road to the Isles" – as well as the Lake District and the Welsh mountains.

Son of George, a builder and clerk of works at Elmdon airport, and Ruth (nee Hope), Prentice was born in Solihull, West Midlands, and went to Moseley Road art school, Birmingham, from the age of 13. At Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts, he met Dinah Prentice. They married in 1958 when David was doing his national service and Dinah was at the Royal Academy Schools in London.

Despairing of the lack of exhibition space in Birmingham, he and Dinah, with the artists Sylvani Merilion, Robert Groves and Jesse Bruton, and with the support of a selfless benefactor, Angus Skene, in 1964 founded the Ikon Gallery, which at first occupied a modest kiosk in the Bull Ring shopping area. They initiated a programme of showing new art that attracted national attention and national funding, and characterises the gallery to this day, though it has long since moved into grander premises.

Prentice had early success as an artist. His paintings were bought by the Arts Council and shown at the Serpentine Gallery in London; and in the US, he showed with the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York and was bought by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. This was all good for the CV, but sales were few and far between.

Now with four daughters to support, David and Dinah both taught, and David eventually became course director for the BA fine art degree at Birmingham Polytechnic (now Birmingham City University). The painting department there was especially strong in those years under the direction of William Gear. Full-time teaching at that time took up three and a half days a week, and David never stopped the practice of painting, submitting work for exhibition when the opportunity arose. He also found time to play jazz (his favourite instrument was the banjo) in a number of Northamptonshire bands. Cycling was a veritable passion; he had competed as a youngster and loved to talk about road racing, in Britain and mainland Europe.

David left teaching as soon as circumstances permitted and worked full-time as an artist, beginning with a year as artist-in-residence at Nottingham University in 1986. He and Dinah travelled; in her words, they "went to look at mountains" – the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Highlands, the Welsh mountains. In 1990 they moved from Northamptonshire to live under the Malvern Hills.

David had known this landscape as a boy from family excursions but it now became part of his life. He painted it in watercolours and oils, and he wrote and spoke about it with knowledge and with love. It is a landscape with many artistic associations, famously in the poetry of AE Housman and the music of Edward Elgar. David Prentice: A Malvern Sketchbook (2000) is one of the most attractive tributes to the area.

A current exhibition at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum, titled "Skylight Landscape", combines David's work with that of Paul Nash, one of his heroes. David collected Nash in a small way and one can see why he admired this great English painter who was also a great modernist. His aspirations were the same.

He is survived by Dinah and by their daughters, Kate, Rachel, Jemima and Emily.

Dempsey, Andrew, “David Prentice Obituary,” The Guardian, London, Web, Jun. 2, 2014

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About  David Prentice

Born:  1936
Died:   2014
Known for:  landscape, mountainscape painting