1923 - 1987

Edward Middleditch

Edward Charles Middleditch, was born at Chelmsford, Essex on 23 March 1923, second of the three sons of Charles Henry Middleditch (24 March 1894-17 June 1977), a packing case maker, and his wife Esmie née Buckley (19 March 1893-14 May 1969), who married at Chelmsford in 1918. The family moved to Nottingham, where third son Ray was born in 1925, and where Edward attended Mundella Grammar School 1934-1939. In 1939 the family returned to live at 46 Park Avenue, Chelmsford, from where Edward attended King Edward VI grammar school. Despite wishing to be a conscientious objector he joined the Middlesex Regiment in 1944 and saw active service in France and Germany before being severely wounded and invalided home and, as Lieut. Middleditch, was awarded the Military Cross in 1945. Following the surrender of Japan, in 1946 Edward went to Burma before going to West Africa during the Independence struggles and, having caught malaria, was again invalided home. In 1947 he married at Kensington, London, Jean Kathleen Whitehouse (6 August 1924-1980) and their daughter Emily Jane was born at Ipswich in 1963. To further his education he attended Regent Street Polytechnic and in 1949 attended the Royal College Art until 1952 under tutors John Minton (1917-1957), Ruskin Spear (1911-1990) and Carel Weight (1908-1990), when his contemporaries included Malcolm Hughes (1920-1997), Derrick Greaves (1927-2016) and Jack Smith (1928-2011). In 1954 he took a part-time teaching position at Bath Academy, Corsham and was second prize-winner in the `Daily Express Young Artists Exhibition' with 'Chicken in a Flooded Stream', the first prize being won by Lucian Freud's 'Hotel Room', and was commissioned to produce a print for Lyons Tearooms. During the mid 1950s he established himself as one of the most powerful young painters and draughtsmen in Britain being initially associated with the kitchen sink painters, John Bratby (1928-1992) and Jack Smith (1928-2011) with Edward devoting himself chiefly to natural themes. Edward's work over the following decades concentrated principally on the elements, from the weight of a massive hillside to the lightness of sun dancing on water or darting through foliage. His work became increasingly abstract and stylised, inspired by kilims and Persian carpets, and even used stencilling to create a patterned, decorative response to nature. During this time he took several teaching positions and in 1955 Middleditch and Greaves moved to Ivy House, Buckinghamshire and, in collaboration with Greaves, painted a mural on the theme of the four seasons for the library of Nuffield College, Oxford. In 1962 he moved to the Old School House, Boxford, Suffolk in which year was warded a Gulbenkian Foundation Scholarship, he remained at Boxford until shortly before his death. In 1964, appointed part-time Head of Department of Fine Art at Norwich School of Art and on 26 April 1968 elected Associate Member of the Royal Academy and a Member on 26 May 1973. He retired as Head of Fine Art at Norwich School of Art in 1984 and elected Keeper of the Royal Academy, in charge of the Schools and the following year a selector of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Ill-health forced his retirement from the Royal Academy in 1986 and he died at 40 Park Avenue, Chelmsford on 29 July 1987.

Works by This Artist