Poignant portrait of harbour artist’s life
ONE of Torbay’s best-known artists, who captured the beauty of Brixham and featured on countless postcards of the port, has died at the age of 90.
Terry Burke was born in Bradford and was a contemporary of David Hockney at Bradford College of Art.
He joined the Army Medical Corps, then qualified as an art teacher. He moved to Torquay and in 1957 started painting at Middle Quay in Brixham as a professional artist.
His work was published in print or card form by all the major houses of the day and he gave one-man exhibitions in London, Bradford, Croydon, Henley and Berlin, plus two religious art exhibitions in Yorkshire.
His work went on show at Churston Church and Sacred Heart Church in Paignton.
His friend Andrew Stockman of the Strand Art Gallery said: “He never sought wealth as an artist. He was just happy to paint and for people to appreciate his work.”
On Brixham harbourside the famous marine artist John Chancellor gave him painting tips which he used up until his retirement due to failing sight at the age of 85.
Terry worked in oils, acrylics and watercolours, mainly painting the ever-changing light in Brixham. He said that he and his fellow artists of the 50s had been responsible for a visual change in Brixham fishing boats.
He said: “The fishing boats were rather drab in colour, and there was a lot of antagonism between the fishermen and the artists, who painted pictures of boats in bright colours.
“But eventually fishermen began to paint their boats bright colours!”
Terry wore a red smock to paint on the harbourside, as the licensed harbourside artists of that time each wore a different colour smock to identify them. Postcards of the quayside at the time showed him at work in his distinctive smock.
In 57 years of painting in Brixham he sold thousands of pencil sketches of visitors, and his paintings of Brixham are treasured in homes and collections worldwide. One painting of Brixham hangs in the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.
Mr Stockman added: “Terry will be missed by his fellow artists who painted alongside him through the last 50 decades, not only for his deep knowledge of art, for his paintings, the friendship, and the friendly rivalry, but also for his deep spirituality, his quiet sense of humour, and for always being so positive through the ups and downs of life.”
More than 100 people attended his Requiem Mass at the Our Lady Star of the Sea church in Brixham. The funeral cortege stopped at the harbourside at the spot where Terry painted.