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SHIPSIDES, Frank, MA (Hon) Bristol.* PDF Print E-mail
Frank was born in Mansfield in 1908. From an early age he loved to draw and paint and developed his skill as a schoolboy. He admits a great debt of gratitude to his Headmaster at Mansfield Grammar School who encouraged him to enter for a scholarship at the Nottingham College of Art, where he received a classical grounding in Art and learned the fundamental techniques. His first job was with a firm of tin makers for whom he designed the decorations on their products - boxes, trays etc. At this time, in 1935, he married Phyl Woods who was a secretary to a firm of architects. His health was not good and all his life he says he has been in and out of hospital. At the outbreak of War in 1939 he was turned down for military service. Drawn by love of the sea Frank and Phyl came to Bristol in 1941 and lived in a house in Portishead with a view of the Bristol Channel. He worked as an artist for several firms and eventually settled down with Mardon, Son and Hall. Much of his work was for the Imperial Tobacco Company. At the age of 60 he retired from Mardons and became freelance and able to paint only what he wanted to paint and especially marine subjects, and then as he says, began `the best part of his life`... He developed a relationship with the Alexander Gallery and over the course of years they put on 10 one-man exhibitions of his works in oils and watercolours. They also produced limited print editions of many of his best paintings. He was commissioned by Bristol City Council to paint the seven HMS Bristols for permanent display in the foyer of the Council House where they are seen by everyone passing through. These large and splendid paintings he regards as the high point of his achievement. Sir Robert Wall has written a book about these pictures HMS Bristol and dedicated it to Frank. Another commission from Bristol City Council was to produce a painting to commemorate the Queen`s visit to Bristol to open the Heritage Maritime Museum. She arrived at Avonmouth in the Royal Yacht Britannia and came up to Bristol Docks in the Royal Barge. Frank’s picture of the event and of the personalities is now permanently on view there. In 1989 Bristol University bestowed on him the honorary degree of Master of Arts. Far many years he has designed, constructed and painted stage scenery for amateur theatrical groups, especially the Catholic Players in Bristol, who specialise in Gilbert and Sullivan. In recognition of his clever and arduous work over the years the Vatican awarded him a Medal which was presented to him in a ceremony at the Cathedral. Another activity in which he has excelled recently is the making of scale ship models. He does not sell them but has exhibited them and won four medals, one of them from Sweden. He has illustrated 8 books: 1977 Bristol Impressions text also by Frank Shipsides. 1979 Bristol: Profile of a City with Helena Eason. 1981 Bristol: Maritime City with Robert Wall, 1984 Frank Shipsides, Bristol with John Sansom. 1986 HMS Bristol Robert Wall, 1992 Quayside Bristol with Robert Wall. 2001 Shipsides Bristol Text by Robert Wall, 2002 Shipsides Slow Boat to Bristol Text by Robert Wall. Bristol owes a great debt of gratitude to Frank and his collaborators for producing these fine books proclaiming to the world Bristol`s beauties and its maritime history. Frank`s two children have followed in their father`s artistic footsteps. Pat is a lecturer in Art at Brunel University and is married to Anna, herself a talented painter of flowers. Frank`s daughter Jennifer has invented her own art form. She designs and makes large and colourful tapestries, not embroidered but knitted, and lives at Broadway in the Cotswolds. Since his wife Phyl`s death 3 years ago he has lived alone and, handicapped by his many infirmities, he paints perhaps more than he has ever done, producing little masterpieces from the sketch book he always has with him. Indeed, most of the pictures from his most recent book Slow Boat to Bristol have been painted from these memories. Died 11 October 2005 (M.G.W.)