Walter Hoyle

Walter Hoyle and Denise Hoyle

Walter Hoyle (1922–2000) was a latecomer to the art community of Great Bardfield moving to the Essex village in 1952.

Hoyle was born in Rishton, Lancashire in 1922.  His father died when he was three years old, this having a lasting effect on him and his two older brothers and sister. The children went to live with an aunt in Blackpool while Hoyle’s mother went to London in search of work. Mrs Hoyle found work with an artist’s agency and later settled in Beckenham, Kent opening a bakers shop on the high street.

Walter and his siblings joined her and aged sixteen he entered Beckenham School of Art. In 1940 he was awarded a place at the Royal College of Art, the college relocating to Ambleside due to the war. He studied there until being called up in 1942.

As an army medical orderly, he was posted to India in 1945 returning to the UK in 1947.

He was offered a post graduate year at the RCA and it was here then that he first came across Edward Bawden who became a friend and close influence. He took up a funded place to study mosaics at the Byzantine Institute of America in Istanbul, prompting an interest in Byzantine colour and design.

The Modo, Istanbul.

Hoyle recalled: ‘It was the beginning of my fourth year at the RCA and there I met Edward. After leaving the RCA I spent another seven months in Istanbul, and it was on my return that Edward invited me to Great Bardfield.  ‘The first time I met Edward he was with John Nash and Kenneth Rowntree.  Edward and Nash were marvellous together, constant banter and leg pulling, rather like Morecambe and Wise.’

In 1950, Bawden asked Hoyle, along with Sheila Robinson, to help with the completion of his Country Life mural for the Lion and Unicorn pavilion at the Festival of Britain. The next year Bawden invited Hoyle to accompany him on a painting holiday to Sicily. Hoyle’s resulting paintings were exhibited at the Leicester Galleries, London, in 1952. It was this close friendship with Bawden that eventually led to Hoyle moving to Great Lodge Farm cottage, Great Bardfield.

Paintings of the trip to Sicily including the now rare book ‘To Sicily With Edward Bawden’. Published in a limited edition of 350. Signed by Olive Cook (intro) and Hoyle. The book was originally published in handwritten form in 1990 in a limited edition of just ten copies. 

Hoyle was soon introduced to the other Great Bardfield artists including John Aldridge. Hoyle stated:’ John, having a private income amongst all the Great Bardfield artists was a capitalist and a conservative. He had not gone through the art college system nor developed alongside art students most of whom were always hard up………John had a powerful car, an Alvis and when he got behind the wheel, he enjoyed the power and speed the car offered him.’

Paintings of Great Lodge Farm, the cottage was dilapidated when Hoyle moved in.

Hoyle took part in the Great Bardfield Open House exhibitions in 1954, 1955 and 1958 (designing the catalogue cover for the 1958 exhibition). At the first of these he met his French-born wife, Denise, an artist in her own right. Denise’s wealthy artistic employers had secured her services as an au pair in London, they were friends with Michael Rothenstein who had moved to Great Bardfield in 1941. Walter and Denise’s children, James and Nina were born in 1956 and 1960 respectively. In 1957, the family moved to the neighbouring village of Great Saling.

The first pic here is Hoyle’s ink drawing which was used as the cover for the 1958 Great Bardfield Summer Exhibition catalogue. A great year as Bolton Wanderers beat Man U 2-0 in the FA Cup Final !! Had to get that in. Hoyle produced many illustrations for the Post Office Savings Bank also pictured here.

Hoyle was working at the Central School of Art, London but found the travelling quite tiring. He was, therefore, relieved to secure a post at the Cambridge School of Art where he set up a print-making studio. In 1975 the family moved to Bottisham, nearer to Cambridge. Retiring from the school there in1984. That year Walter and Denise moved to Hastings to be within reach of the flat they had bought in Dieppe a year earlier Hoyle continued to work on his art between Hastings and Dieppe until he died of a heart attack in 2000.

The Hoyle’s would travel from Hastings to Dieppe via the ferry from Newhaven. The first pic here is a painting of Dieppe Harbour. Also included here some of Hoyle’s later work.

Hoyle’s lino-cut ‘Bust in a Garden’ plus lino-cuts from the Cambridge series.

I will conclude on a personal note as taking pride of place in my kitchen is the Women’s Institute Book of Party Recipes 1969 illustrated by Walter Hoyle. Just in case lock-down ever ends and I want to throw a party ! The accompanying illustrations inside are superb and I will sometime share them on the John Aldridge and Friends Facebook page.

Graham Bennison February 28th, 2021.

6 thoughts on “Walter Hoyle

  1. Thank you – very interesting.
    I used to be taken to Great Bardfield open days by my parents in the 1950’s as we lived in Essex.
    Later I was taught by John Nash and Edward Bawden at Colchester School of Art – they came in one or two days a week – this was the early 60’s so they were both quite old by then.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was lucky enough to but my 1885 Albion press from Walter. He was reluctant to sell it but it was in a barn at Bottisham, with me it got it’s own studio built for it. A beautiful thing. He also taught me for a year at the Cambridge Scholl of Art. I loved his work.


  3. I was lucky enough to buy my 1885 Albion press from Walter – he was very fond of it and sad to see it go but it was stored in a barn at that point so better to sell to me where it got it’s own studio. He taught me for one year at the Cambridge Art School – I always loved his work.


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