Crawford Mitchell

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Crawford Mitchell
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Born(1908-10-05)October 5, 1908
DiedNovember 26, 1976(1976-11-26) (aged 68)
NationalityIrish
CitizenshipIreland
Alma mater
  • Boys Model School
  • Belfast Art College
  • Royal College of Art
Occupation
  • Ulster artist
  • Teacher
Spouse(s)Eileen

Crawford Mitchell was born on 5th October 1908, the son of Joseph Mitchell, a confectioner on the Grosvenor Road, Belfast and his Scottish born wife Catherine. Mitchell was the youngest of three children.[1] He attended the Boys Model School, Belfast before gaining a scholarship from Dunville & Co to study at the Belfast School of Art. In 1930 whilst a student at Belfast Art College, Mitchell won first prize in a competition at the Royal Dublin Society for his set of 3 nude life-drawings.[2] He won a further scholarship to the Royal College of Art in 1932, where he studied alongside his cousin George MacCann, and Mercy Hunter.

Mitchell was a teacher who influenced several generations of children in the schools where he worked. In 1935 he taught part-time at Rainey Endowed School and at both Lurgan and Southern Regional College. In 1950 he moved to the newly-opened Grosvenor Grammar School at Roden Street in Belfast, where he remained until he retired in 1970. Following his retirement he concentrated on his printmaking and supplemented his income with part-time tuition at Rupert Stanley College of Further Education in Belfast. Mitchell was a longstanding member of the Art Teachers' Association in Northern Ireland.[3]

Mitchell was also a set designer, occasional actor and theatre director with the Ulster Theatre from the 1930s. Whilst teaching at Grosvenor High School he created programmes and posters for school productions, designed sets, and also played instruments when necessary.

Mitchell was one of the original members of the Ulster Unit and showed 5 etchings in their inaugural exhibition at Locksley House, Belfast in December 1934. His contemporaries at the Ulster Unit included John Hewitt (poet), Colin Middleton, John Luke (artist), John Hunter, George MacCann and Kathleen Bridle.[4] Mitchell's works in the exhibition were described by one critic as "each soundly competent"[5] whilst another describes his Wayward Tree as "promising for this young artist".[6]

In 1963 Mitchell showed alongside Colin Middleton, Dennis H. Osborne, Jean Osborne, T.P. Flanagan, Thomas Carr (artist), Cherith McKinstry, Wilfred Stewart, and David Crone in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's New Gallery Painters Exhibition.[7] Mitchell showed several times at the Royal Ulster Academy, including 1965 when he presented a four coloured lino-cut, Gnarled Oak, with prints at a bargain price of £2.[8] In the 1970 RUA annual show he offered Geese at Castleward.[9] He won the silver medal at the Royal Ulster Academy 94th annual show in 1975 for a lino-cut of Ballaghanery Church, Co, Down, one of the oldest ecclesiastical buildings in Ulster.[10] In the same year Mitchell was elected as Associate Member of the RUA.[11] In the following year he exhibited two works at the RUA, Grey Abbey and Yellow Water River, which critic Elizabeth Baird described as "outstanding".[12] In addition to showing with the RUA in 1976, Mitchell exhibited with a small group of artists called the Masquers at the Centre Art Gallery, where he displayed ten works -five lino-cuts, four oils, and one gouache. The art critic Elizabeth Baird was gushing in her review of Mitchell's work in the Masquers display:

"Working in lino Crawford Mitchell has produced some really excellent prints. Although often very detailed and intricate in cut and colour, 'Hillsborough' for example, they are invariably technically perfect and aesthetically very pleasing. There are several other local artists who work in lino but none can use and match colours as beautifully as Mr. Mitchell".[13]

Crawford Mitchell died on 26th November 1976.[14] He was 68 years of age. Mitchell was survived by his wife Eileen (nee Morrison) whom he had married in 1943, and his son Clive.[14]

Mitchell's work was shown posthumously with the RUA in 1977,[15] at the same time as a retrospective of 77 of his works showed at Rupert Stanley College on Tower Street, Newtownards.[16] His work can be found in the collections of the British Council and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

References

  1. "Ireland Census 1911". The National Archives of Ireland. 1911. Archived from the original on 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  2. "Ulster Prize-Winners in Art Competition". Belfast News-Letter. 7 July 1930. p. 11. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  3. "Art Lecture". Belfast News-Letter. 4 June 1945. p. 6. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  4. Kennedy, S B (1991). Irish Art & Modernism 1880-1950. Institute of Irish Studies, Queens University Belfast. p. 74. ISBN 0-85389-402-7.
  5. "Present day art: opening of Ulster Unit exhibition". Northern Whig. 18 December 1934. p. 9. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  6. "New spirit in art: exhibition by Ulster Unit". Belfast Telegraph. 19 December 1934. p. 12. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  7. Bowyer, AW (13 December 1963). "Two showings for Ulster artists". Belfast Telegraph. p. 13. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  8. MacCann, George (3 November 1965). "Venturesome art at RUA". Belfast Telegraph. p. 9. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  9. Stewart, Ann M (1997). Irish art societies and sketching clubs: index of exhibitors, 1870-1980, Volume 2: M-Z. Dublin: Four Courts Press. p. 505. ISBN 1-85182-328X.
  10. Baird, Elizabeth (15 May 1975). "Art from £3.50". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  11. "Mercy Hunter elected". Belfast Telegraph. 6 December 1975. p. 5. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  12. Baird, Elizabeth (19 June 1976). "The (Royal Ulster) Academy Awards". Belfast Telegraph. p. 6. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  13. Baird, Elizabeth (18 May 1976). "Art: Drawing Power". Belfast Telegraph. p. 10. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Obituaries: Mr Crawford Mitchell". Belfast Telegraph. 29 November 1976. p. 2. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  15. Baird, Elizabeth (4 June 1977). "Art". Belfast Telegraph. p. 6. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  16. Johnston, Neil (15 June 1977). "Artist in Retrospect". Belfast Telegraph. p. 3. Retrieved 20 January 2021.

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