Swan Hunter, Wallsend

Swan Hunter, Wallsend


James Williamson Bell
Swan Hunter, Wallsend
Chinese Ink and watercolour on paper
32 x 56cm (image)
52 x 78cm (framed)

This work is signed by the artist.

Bell’s subject matter was as diverse as his style. As one of the first members of the prestigious Society of Wildlife Artists (and for a long period, the only member in the North of England), he produced finely detailed studies of native and exotic birds. As his reputation grew, Bell was able to travel more widely, spending many months in China where he developed a fascination with Chinese brush painting. The technique strongly influenced his painting, as suited to capturing the inky river darkness and soaring cranes of the shipyards as it was to the lantern-lined Shanxi streets and shrieking cockerels of the Far East.

Bell exhibited his work as far afield as Paris, New York, South Korea, Nairobi and China, but it was the River Tyne and industrial North East which provided the rich source of imagery that he returned to again and again. Towering cranes at Wallsend, characterful North Shields pubs and crowded Newcastle bridges all feature in his work, alongside exquisitely detailed wildlife studies and energetic travel sketches. Taken together, these images create not just a portrait of working life on Tyneside, but of an artist overflowing with creativity and a drive to capture the world around him.

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