Friday, August 31, 2012

Bertram Hiles - Mouth Painter

Bertram Hiles was an artist working at the turn of the last century, for the most part, as far as his black and white design work went, in the Art Nouveau style. These illustrations come from an exhibition of his work held at the Crystal Palace in Sydenham in December of 1900. Hiles lost both his arms in a tramcar accident when he was eight years old. Even at that age he had already determined he was going to be an artist and so the loss of his arms was a devastating blow. Nonetheless, he worked to train his mouth instead and became what we know today as a mouth-painter. The Bristol based artist went to the Merchant Venturers' Technical College and then won a scholarship to the National Art Training School. This suggests a fairly poor background and so his trip to Paris at the end of his formal education must have been something of an eye-opener. He worked in black and white design and illustration like those seen here but also in colour and produced a number of paintings for Tuck's Oilette series of postcards, mainly topographical views, somewhat saccharine perhaps for modern taste. There is a good selection of his work including a self-portrait at Design - Decoration - Craft.  Sadly, he died too early, in Bristol at the age of 55.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed reading your Blog about Bertram Hiles. I am most fortunate to own one of his paintings, (from my late father) so I knew a little about him, but discovered SO much more on reading your informative write up about such an amazing man. The painting is stunning, an old lady standing by a water mill, very magical!

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