COKER, Peter

1926 - 2004

Peter Coker

Peter Godfrey Coker was born at St Pancras, London on 27 July 1926, son of Edwin Henry Coker (3 January 1900-12 May 1980), a car & lorry driver, and his wife Elsie Violet née Goode (15 October 1899-17 November 1987), who married at Poplar, London in 1923 and in 1939 were living at Collier Row, Romford, Essex. Peter grew up in Havering, Essex where he acquired a love of music from his mother and knowledge of engraving from his maternal grandfather, Henry Goode (1863-1929), who was a stencil engraver. Coker was educated at Pettits School, near Havering, leaving school early to work in his father's confectionery firm, but he found employment with the book publishing part of Odhams Press, fetching art work, helping with the lettering for jackets and taking evening classes at St Martin's School of Art 1941-1943. He then served three years in the Fleet Air Arm and in 1946 returned full-time at St Martinís to complete his studies after which in 1949, he travelled to France and Italy and fell under the influence of the nineteenth-century Realist painter, Gustave Courbet (1819-1877). He then studied at the Royal College of Art in London 1950-1954, being awarded both a Royal and British Institution Scholarship 1951-1953. A tutor at St Martinís School of Art 1954-1973 and afterwards at the City and Guilds of London Art School until 1985. During his years in London he became friends with Derrick Greaves (born 1927), John Randall Bratby (1928-1992), Edward Middleditch (1923-1987) and Jack Smith (1928-2011), part of a group devoted to scenes of domestic life under the name Kitchen Sink School 1942-1957. Peter was fascinated by everyday scenes, landscapes and still-life but became known for his paintings of stylised and bloodless animal carcasses which were apparently memory images of a butcherís near his home in Leytonstone. As well as oils he worked in charcoal, pencil and chalk and made a number of prints. Elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1965 and a Royal Academician in 1972. He married at Romford in 1951, Vera Joyce Crook (1928-18 December 2013) and they had a son Nicholas (1952-1985). They moved to Manningtree, Essex in 1962 and was a member of Colchester Art Society 1959-1979. He exhibited widely including at Zwemmer Gallery, London; South London Art Gallery; Museum and Art Gallery, Northampton; The Minories, Colchester; The Stable Gallery, Woodbridge, Suffolk and elsewhere. His work is present in many public collections including the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the British Museum, the Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Peter Coker died in Colchester, Essex, on 16 December 2004. He published a book 'Etching Techniques' (1976).

Works by This Artist