John Owen 1928-2020

We all will have been very sad to hear that John is no longer with us. He was in so many ways a quite remarkable man whose courage and tenacity in his later years were so inspirational.

He was educated at Stowe and went on to Trinity College Cambridge. For many years he farmed at Randolphs in Iden before moving to Playden where he became increasingly interested in painting and studied under William Warden. 

It was not long before John became a member of the Society and was regularly showing and selling at our annual summer exhibitions.  He became one of our staunchest supporters and, at the age of 92, its most senior.

John never missed an AGM and was happy to give his opinion, but would also then add it was up to the Committee to make a final decision!
He was painting almost to the end of his life and was very disappointed that the pandemic had caused the cancellation of this year’s exhibitions as he had some new work to show.  

Louis Turpin remembers John showing him how to do a particular knot when putting the cord on the back of paintings for hanging (John being a keen sailor knew all about knots!) and Louis still uses that knot to this day when hanging.

His paintings were inspired and informed by his deep knowledge of the countryside and also of the sea, gleaned from his life as a farmer and sailor. The subdued colours of the local landscape gave way to the vibrant blues, reds and yellows of the Aegean when he discovered Greece in later years. 

He finally swallowed the anchor in 2019 when he reluctantly got rid of his last boat and his very last outing on the sea was this July, in his son’s boat, when they had a lovely sail out towards Dungeness on a sparkling day. 

Fellow artist and RSA member, Bob Greenhalf recollects “I think we all admired John for his stoicism and unfailing good humour, delivered with a mischievous glint in his eye”. 

For many years John stored all the RSA boards and paraphernalia for the exhibition in one of his barns, free of charge of course. We also had a number of Summer Parties at his house, garden and farmyard.

John was very much a one-off and our walls the better for the memories we have of him whenever we see his imaginative pictures and the friendship he brought to our lives.

Share this