Bolton-born, Bradshaw trained at Bolton School of Art and Manchester Regional College of Art. He served in WWII, and following demobilization, won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art where he enrolled in 1948. In 1951, his final year, he won the Silver Medal for work of special distinction; the Engraving and Architecture prizes; an Associateship (First Class); and was elected Associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers (A.R.E). He then won the Prix de Rome and spent two years at the British Academy, before travelling throughout Greece, Spain, France, and Germany.
A young Bradshaw attended Canon Slade Grammar School, this was followed by an interim period before conscription and Bradshaw’s family suggested he enrol for a few months at the Bolton Municipal School of Art under the direction of Principal Mr John R Gauld. He stayed there for three years and was successful in obtaining the drawing and pictorial design certificate. He enlisted in the army in 1942.
The family home in Bolton was the historic Haulgh Hall, next door to the Hilden Street College of Art. It is a timber-framed and brick building built in 1597, rendered over, with a stone flagged roof.
Later in life Bradshaw described it as: ‘A linear world of black line on white wall. The Tudor timbers plot their structure in a decorative skeleton on the stone slabbed roof, and above, sandstone walls. This rambling mansion rebuilt and modernised in 1602, grounds encroached upon by the industrial age, bounded by road and canal. A massive door of studded oak and iron; porch in cobbled courtyard; linenfold panels line the private chapel; carved oak beams grip the ceilings and pillar the walls. In this oasis, I was born and bred. The green garden paths are lined with large white limestones.’
Returning from service in North Africa Bradshaw returned to Bolton Art school and later took a teaching course in Manchester. He applied to the Royal College of Art to study engraving and succeeded in winning a scholarship for three years entering the College in 1948. He was awarded a first-class associateship at the end of his course.
As a boy Bradshaw was drawn to the nearby moors spending much time on Rivington Pike and Winter Hill. His love of the countryside saw him move in 1953 to a cottage in the Welsh Mountains near Snowdon, where he worked on pictures for an exhibition in Manchester. He painted industrial, moorland and mountain landscapes in England and Wales, as well as seascapes. He won numerous awards from the British and Welsh Art Councils, and in 1953 had his first solo exhibition at Salford City Art Gallery, which was followed by one-man exhibitions in the U.K, U.S.A., South Africa, Australia and Zimbabwe, including four retrospectives.
Top left: Bolton Moors. Three other paintings of Bolton.
Bradshaw added to his CV by securing the job of art critic for the Bolton Evening News. Bradshaw wrote to Editor frank Singleton: “you know you have a good paper but your art reviews are bloody awful!”
Chairman of the newspaper company Marcus Tillotson commissioned Bradshaw to paint two paintings one of which was an impression of Victoria Square as it was in 1956.
The Long Road. Top right: The Pit. Middle Right: Queens Park, Bolton. Bottom Right: Reflection (Rose Hill, Bolton).
After serving as Vice Chairman of the British Parliamentary Committee on Art Education (1955-1960), Bradshaw was in 1960 invited to take the Chair of Fine Arts at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. In 1964, he formed the Grahamstown Group, which exhibited at their own gallery and at venues throughout South Africa and Rhodesia. Many of his former students are now well-known South African artists, lecturers, professors, and gallery directors. In 1978, he resigned from Rhodes University and as Director of the National Galleries of Rhodesia, and returned to England, although he continued to exhibit his work in both the north of England and South Africa and travel between the two.
Tonge Moor. Ink Drawing. The Croal. Trinity Church.
Just before he died aged 93 in November 2016 Bradshaw was made aware that the Arts Council of South Africa were honouring him with a permanent foundation for his work to be held and exhibited in Pretoria.
Thank go to Rosemary Hogge who supplied the bulk of information here in her dissertation studying at Rhodes University, South Africa, 1976.
Graham Bennison https://www.facebook.com/BennisonArtist
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