The Art and Craft of John Piper – by Jo Walton – Thursday 2nd February 2023

At our February meeting we had an enthralling lecture from Jo Walton, an expert on Art and Architecture of 15th century, with wonderful illustrations of the art and craft of John Piper.

He was a multi talented artist. He studied and painted buildings old and new, rustic and grand, secular and religious. He painted abstract works, used collage techniques and water colours, created and designed stain glass windows, film posters, theatrical sets, tapestries and church vestments. In later life he painted huge murals. He was also a talented printmaker and lithographer. He illustrated guide books and propaganda posters.

The son of a solicitor, his father wanted him to become a solicitor to give him security. But he never completed his training which he hated. After his father died his mother sponsored him at art college.

He loved the English landscape and architecture, travelling greatly to study both and became an expert in the field. He painted shorelines and used unusual materials in these works.

After some thought he became a war artist, painting buildings and architectural features which might be destroyed in wartime or be done away with. He designed propaganda posters, and interpreted archeological features from the air using photography.

He visited the bombed Coventry Cathedral and painted images of the destruction, working similarly in other cities. He was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth to paint Windsor Castle in case it was destroyed.

After the war the government commissioned him to record many great buildings, these to be hung in Government buildings.  

He is famous for the Baptistry Window of the new Coventry Cathedral, which started his career as a glass artist designing windows in churches  large and small.

He lived in a cottage( renovated by himself and his wife) in Fawley. He died at the age of 89 after a full and amazingly creative life and is buried at Fawley.

Dee Pidgeon