Neil Forster, artist – obituary


Neil Forster, who has died aged 77, was a figurative artist who carved out a distinct segment for himself by growing a expertise for portraiture – of canines and horses particularly; the gallerist Roy Petley spoke of his “present for bringing animals to life by their eyes, from the forlorn look of a pet to the extreme glare of untamed mares being rounded up”.

An previous pal of the Prince of Wales, to whom he gave portray classes (he additionally gave watercolour classes to the Duchess of Cornwall), Forster produced portraits, often in pastels, of varied princely animal companions and even a portrait of the Prince himself in his function because the final colonel-in-chief of the Gordon Highlanders, now within the regimental museum.

One other fee was a portrait of Willie Potts, one-time gamekeeper at Balmoral. He additionally painted camels, horses and hawks for a member of the Kuwaiti royal household.

Forster’s most enthusiastic patron was Mark Birley, the founding father of Annabel’s night time membership and a pal for greater than 40 years, throughout which era Forster painted nearly each canine Birley and his household owned, from 1967 when he painted Assist, a rescue canine from Battersea, proper as much as Birley’s final two canines, Blitz, a Ridgeback, and Bella, a German Shepherd canine.

Birley’s ex-wife, Woman Annabel Goldsmith, recalled Forster sketching her canines sitting on her mattress, the place she lay down as the one manner of protecting them nonetheless.

Partaking and immensely enticing to ladies, Forster was, nevertheless, hopelessly wayward in his private life and in later life was typically in need of cash. Alongside his perception within the conventional virtues of drawing and portray, there was additionally a restlessness that for a lot of his life saved him transferring on in private relationships, in need of complete dedication.

The oldest of 4 youngsters, Neil Andrew Forster was born on January 29 1939 in Calcutta, the place his father labored for a tea plantation group. The conflict saved the household in India, however in 1945 he returned to Sussex together with his mom, whereas his father stayed on in India till his retirement.

Neil attended Hurst Court docket Preparatory College, the place he confirmed early promise as an artist, profitable a Royal Academy-sponsored junior portray prize, the reward for which was lunch with the RA President, Sir Alfred Munnings. At Bradfield Faculty he received a scholarship to the Byam Shaw Artwork College.       

His research have been lower brief by a critical highway accident. After a number of months in hospital he emerged with persistent again ache and one leg shorter than the opposite, which meant that for a lot of his life he was pressured to put on an elevated boot. 

Inspired by an exhibition of his work at Midhurst in 1963, Forster determined to change into a full-time artist, and arrange in a studio-cum-apartment in London, changing into mates with most of the Chelsea set. He supplemented his revenue with work as a bartender, and went to the south of France in 1966 to assist launch a pal’s gallery, staying on for a 12 months.

This started a nomadic sample which continued for a lot of his life as he travelled between individuals’s homes and vacation properties in Spain, France and Eire, portray portraits of his hosts and landscapes, and falling simply out and in of affection with ladies.

Commissioned by Sir Nicholas Nuttall to color a lifesize portrait of his second spouse, Julia, he fell in love together with his topic and moved along with her to Norfolk, persuading her to alter her title to his (a apply he repeated with one other girlfriend). In 1974, partly as a result of the solar was thought-about higher for Forster’s again, the couple moved to Spain, close to Ronda. However their relationship quickly broke down and Forster moved additional alongside the coast, portray portraits and murals.

Returning to Britain after practically a decade in Spain, he spent some years with one other girlfriend in Norfolk earlier than transferring to the Gloucestershire-Wiltshire borders, the place he rented a home close to Malmesbury from the Earl of Suffolk, earlier than shopping for a home at Sherston.

It was right here that he received to know Prince Charles at his close by Highgrove property, and later Camilla Parker Bowles. He accompanied the Prince on portray holidays in Scotland and his royal patron proved a beneficiant supply of help, particularly in his later years when he was typically arduous up.

It was at Sherston that he settled down, pursuing his passions for boules, which he had learnt in France, and cricket, which he performed vigorously, regardless of his bodily disabilities. Inside a short while he had organised a village cricket crew and a pitch from scratch. He additionally arrange a boules pitch within the pub automotive park, serving to to make the village the centre of a world annual competitors.

In 2000 he lastly received married, to Penelope Morgan. Because it was a intercalary year, he had requested her to “pop the query”. She survives him.

Neil Forster, born January 29 1939, died February 24 2016


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