Glynn Boyd Harte
Glynn Boyd Harte (1948-2003)
Glynn Boyd Harte was born in Rochdale in 1948. His father was a commercial artist and art teacher, and his grandfather a lithographic printer. The front garden path of their home was paved with old litho stones. Glynn grew up making toy theatres and playing the piano in local productions of Gilbert and Sullivan.
He attended Rochdale Grammar School and Rochdale School of Art. When he arrived in London at St Martin's School of Art as a student of illustration, the "far horizons" began to materialise, and he proceeded to the Royal College of Art (1970-73), where his tutors included Brian Robb, Edward Bawden, Paul Hogarth and Peter Blake.
Illustration was enjoying a revival, with a rich vein of irony and a love of technical perfection which guided Boyd Harte's work. At his Degree Show, Jonathan Gili spotted a drawing of a Staffordshire cottage which led to the publication by Warren Editions of a charmingly black-humoured book entitled Murderers' Cottages (1976). With an exhibition at the Thumb Gallery, introduced by Tom Stoppard, Boyd Harte was launched.
The Lennon-ish long hair and glasses gave way to a more 1930s look, usually involving waistcoats and checks, although the co- respondent shoes remained a constant of his personal style for ever after. In 1972 he married Caroline Bullock, herself an artist and historian, and they restored a corner house in Cloudesley Square, Islington.
As an artist, Boyd Harte was successfully represented by the Francis Kyle Gallery for a number of years, and later by Curwen Gallery where his one-man show "Apples and Artichokes" opened last week. He abandoned the more Surrealist aspects of his early work in favour of still-life, portraits and buildings, sharing in the rediscovery of architectural history in the 1970s.
In the early 1980s, he changed from coloured pencils to watercolour, and later tempera, working in a style that always spoke of his background in illustration. He could draw and shade with great skill, but the patterned flatness remained the abiding characteristic, with meticulously copied lettering. As an illustrator and artist, he was always interested in the narrative implications of his subjects, whether they were the paired shop-front lithographs titled Whips and Tools, or the references to admired precursors such as Bawden or Eric Ravilious.
His work as a book illustrator included a de luxe edition of John Betjeman's Metro-land (1977) and Temples of Power with Gavin Stamp (1979). These books revived hand-drawn lithography as a medium for book illustration, printed at the Curwen Studio by Stanley Jones. Boyd Harte's approach to building up layers of colour was perfectly suited to the medium and his contribution to lithography, although apparently retrospective in intent, is an important part of its historical development. The paving stones came home to roost.
In more recent years, Boyd Harte illustrated the complete novels of E. M. Forster and Arnold Bennett's Old Wives' Tale for the Folio Society. He will surely be seen as the official artist to the Foodie movement of the 1980s, with books such as Edible Gifts (1982) and the complete styling of the Dolphin Brasserie at Dolphin Square, commissioned by Nicholas Crawley and James Stourton in the late 1980s. In the last month, he was excited by the prospect of illustrating Folio editions of Elizabeth David.
Boyd Harte was also an entertaining writer, accompanying his own lithographed illustrations in A Weekend in Dieppe (1981), Venice (1988) and Mr Harte's Holiday (1990), based on a few of the many painting excursions he undertook, the last being a tribute to Jacques Tati. Having sold his magnificent Georgian house at 29 Percy Street (where he was "executed" at a Mexican party in the sand-strewn basement, dressed as the Emperor Maximilian), Glynn and Carrie bought a house at Veules-les-Roses in Normandy and enjoyed a regular contact with French life.
With the proceeds of his first book-jacket commission, Boyd Harte bought a grand piano for Cloudesley Square. Sharing a studio with the illustrator Ian Beck in Garrick Street in the 1970s, he found the perfect collaborator in a cabaret duo, under the name "Les Frères Perverts", specialising in French chanson, performing at restaurants, parties and clubs.
Boyd Harte also made his own musical settings for Metro-land, performed in the presence of Betjeman at the Art Workers Guild, which he joined in 1978, with megaphone and train effects. He was Master of the Art Workers Guild in 1996 and was responsible for its present scheme of decoration. In 1991, the Art Workers Guild Revels were revived by Anthony Ballantine, and Boyd Harte directed an evening under the title "The Triumph of Decency". This was followed by three full-dress pantomimes, Jack and a Dodo (1993), Aquajack, or Forty Thousand Leagues under Bogginton-on-Sea (1996) and Jack and a Beansprout (2002).
Oscillating between farcical under-rehearsal and total professionalism, including musical pastiches of Elvis, café-chantant and Rossini, with hundreds of cut-out fish or puppet vegetables in national costume, these were among Boyd Harte's Gesamtkunstwerken. One of his projects, for a musical on the life of Edward Lear, was hoped to reach the West End stage, but in the event provided another guild entertainment.
The listing of individual achievements fails to convey the totality of Glynn Boyd Harte's life, which, like Oscar Wilde's, was the vehicle of genius. It extended to his taste in decoration and collecting, his circles of friends and enemies (irreversibly and often unreasonably transferred from the first category into the second) and, not least, the warmth of the family life that surrounded him.
Glynn Boyd Harte Prints
Dining Room Charlecote457 mm X 608 mm
Kitchen Charlecote457 mm X 608 mm
Limonade in a Restaurant540 mm X 462 mm
Two Chairs and Tea in a Restaurant540 mm X 462 mm