Sheffield artists paint vivid portrait to remember a ‘true original’

Court artist John Gilbert sketches Stephen McClarence.
Court artist John Gilbert sketches Stephen McClarence.
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Sheffield’s art scene has lost one of its foremost talents.

John Gilbert, of Oakbrook Road in Nether Green, who has died aged 82, won widespread recognition for his work, including the honour of having his paintings shown at the Royal Academy.

He was also the holder of a silver medal from the 100-year-old Paris Salon academy, and was a skilled court artist, producing sketches of criminal trials with lightning speed.

John was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, and later taught art at Abbeydale Grammar School for girls as its first male teacher. He was a member of the Hallam Art Group, and gave regular talks about painting and drawing techniques.

Gerry Kersey, a fellow member of the society said: “He could speak, eloquently and interestingly, on almost anything to do with the complex art world.

“Helena, his wife, said he was never bored. To travel with John was an education. He was never without his sketch and note book, constantly making pictorial notes on his surroundings.

“John always appeared to be a contented, unflappable man, and he and Helena were always wonderful company.”

Gerry added: “Every group which sets out to explore and participate in the many joys of the world of art should have a John Gilbert. And we’ve just lost the original. To say we’ll miss him is a gross understatement.”

John was treated for a lung condition before his death on September 17. He leaves Helena, son and daughter Paul and Briony and four grandchildren - John, Oscar, Scott and Hollie. His funeral was held last week at Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium. Donations were collected for Yorkshire Cancer Research.