SMYTH, Owen Paul

1895 - 1979

Owen Paul Smyth was born at Swilland, near Ipswich on 27 January 1895, son of William Smyth (1845-17 April 1897), a miller, and his second wife Margaret Emma née Wright (1863-1944), who married at Swilland in 1885, William's first wife was Mary Elizabeth née Buttrum (1851-1883) whom he married in 1874. In 1901, Owen was living at 33 Berners Street, Ipswich with his 38-year-old widowed mother Margaret Emma, stepbrother William Bruce Smyth 25, and siblings Helen Dorothy 14, Audrey Jane 13, Edward William 11. By 1911 they had moved to 195 Cauldwell Hall Road, Ipswich when Owen was a 16-year-old, working as an assistant on the County Council. In 1921 a 'commercial traveller' visiting at 106 East Street, Braintree, Essex and where his brother 32-year-old Edward William Smyth 'a travelling actor' was boarding, the home of Walter William Smith and his family. In 1922 he exhibited at The League of Nations Union at St Albans a 200ft x 10ft mural featuring some 51 members of the League and by 1925 he had moved to Norwich when he designed the Norwich Pageant at the Maddermarket Theatre and in 1926 an exhibition of his works was held at his adjoining studio which included watercolours, etchings and woodcuts of Norfolk and Belgium such as 'Catfield Mill' and 'After Evensong, St Stephen's Church'. He married in 1927, Cecily Alice May Carr (1895-1991), a schoolteacher. In 1927 he exhibited at the Ipswich Art Club from The Maddermarket Studio, St John Maddermarket, Norwich, two watercolours 'The Canal Side, Namur' and 'Catfield Mill, Norfolk' and was also an exhibiting member of the Woodpecker Sketch Club, later named the Norwich Art Circle, from Norwich 1928-1951 and where he exhibited in 1937 two watercolours 'Cotswold Country' and 'The Roadside Farm' and he also exhibited at the Royal Academy. A landscape painter, theatre designer, actor and theatre manager, Smyth had a varied career being employed by Walter Nugent Monck (1888-1958), as designer, scene painter and stage manager in the early years of Norwich Maddermarket Theatre. Smyth performed with the Norwich Players in 46 out of 55 productions, before moving on to the Old Vic, London where he spent seven years as designer for stage and costumes under Lilian Mary Baylis (1874-1937). In 1950 Smyth became the first manager of the Assembly House Norwich where he remained until his retirement in 1965. In 1939, a manager of a house decorating & plumbing business, living at 8 St John's Alley, Norwich with his wife Cecily, a teacher of French in a High School. Owen Paul Smyth died at Hill Cottage, Shottesham, Norfolk on 19 March 1979. An archive of his works, production photographs, correspondence, account books and exhibition sales, personal items, and papers, etc., from 1920s and 1930s are held at University of Bristol Theatre Collection, University of Bristol.

Royal Academy exhibits
from St Mary's House, The Chantry, Norwich
1949 957 Wymondham Abbey

Works by This Artist