GOVIER, James Henry

1910 - 1974

James Govier

James Henry Govier was born at Oakley, Thame, Buckinghamshire on 1 August 1910, second child of Henry [Harry] Govier (1877-1942), a horse breeder and smallholder, and his wife Mary Ann née Measey (1884-1973), who married at Thame, Oxfordshire in 1908. In 1914, the family moved to the small town of Gorseinon in Gower near Swansea, where James was educated at the local school. Leaving school at the age of 14, to work in one of the local tin works and when aged 17, became an evening student at the Swansea College of Art gaining a Glamorgan County Scholarship to study full-time at the school 1930-1935, under William Grant Murray (1887-1950). He also studied at the Royal College of Art 1935-1940 under Malcolm Osborne (1880-1963) and Robert Austin (1895-1973). Painter, printmaker, and teacher, a traditionalist who disliked commercialism and modern influences. In Wales and in London both Augustus John (1878-1961) and Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) were both friends of Govier and he had his portrait drawn by Alfred Janes (1911-1999), and a pencil portrait of him was drawn by Colin Moss. In 1938, James was elected an Associate of the Royal College of Art together with a travelling scholarship, but the Second World War intervened when he served in the Royal Air Force making models for the 'Dam Buster' raids, D-Day landing craft, &c. In 1935 he exhibited, with past students of Swansea, at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea and, after demobilised in 1945, commenced exhibiting with the Aylesbury and District Art Society also at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. A student at Ipswich School of Art specialising as a commercial display artist, and a member of the Ipswich Art Club 1949-1962, exhibiting from Rose Cottage, Denham, Suffolk in 1950 two oils 'Landscape Sketch' and 'April' and a watercolour 'Country Lane'. In 1947, he became art and woodwork master at Eye Grammar School, Suffolk, living in Eye until his marriage at Hoxne Parish Church, Suffolk on 8 April 1950, Freda Muriel Tye (22 December 1930-1982), a former pupil at the school, and they had two children Jane and Stephen James Govier. In 1965, Eye Grammar School closed and Govier moved to Diss Grammar School, where he remained until retirement in 1972. James Henry Govier died at The Retreat, Heckfield Green, Hoxne on 21 December 1974. A major exhibition of his work was held at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich in 1993. The largest collections of his work can be found within The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Buckinghamshire County Museum, Ipswich Museums, the V. & A. Museum, National Library of Wales, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Norwich Castle Museums and Art Galleries.
Note - his listing in the Ipswich Art Club Catalogue is incorrectly given as J. G. Govier, ARCA.

Works by This Artist