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Preston artist Harold Wood, success for local lad

Posted on - 19th September, 2021 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, History, Preston News
Harold Wood self-portrait Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Harold Wood self-portrait Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Preston artist Harold Wood had a fascinating life that covered most of the 20th century. He was a friend to royalty and a renowned horse painter. He trained as an artist in Preston.

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Born in 1918, Wood studied Drawing and Painting at the Harris School of Art. He then worked for Leyland Paint and Varnish as a decorative artist. This was the era of Art Deco wallpaper, ceramics and buildings.

Art Deco buildings in Preston

Preston boasts some fine Art Deco buildings, one of them being the old Woolworths store in Fishergate, which was built in 1922. This is now used as a Next store.

Old Woolworths store Pic: Preston Historical Society
Old Woolworths store Pic: Preston Historical Society

Another still existing Art Deco building is the old Co-op store near the covered market.

Old Co-op store Pic: Google Maps
Old Co-op store Pic: Google Maps

This fine building was built in the 1930s.

Co-op ceramics department in 1935 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Co-op ceramics department in 1935 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The co-op ceramics department in 1935, note the deco wall detailing.

In the 1930s, well-known ceramic artists such as Clarice Cliff designed colourful Art Deco pottery. This set is from 1930.

1930s Art Deco pottery Pic: The English Home
1930s Art Deco pottery Pic: The English Home

Wood paints Preston

Wood also painted some views of his hometown of Preston. He was a versatile artist painting in several different styles. He was also a contemporary of fellow Northern artist L.S. Lowry.

View of Preston in the 1950s by Harold Pic: Harris Gallery, Preston Digital Archive
View of Preston in the 1950s by Harold Wood Pic: Harris Gallery, Preston Digital Archive

World War II

From 1939 to 1945, Wood served in North Africa , Abyssinia and Europe. In 1946, he worked in London as an illustrator and model maker.

WWII devastated large parts of the country. Many buildings were destroyed. In fact, 47,000 houses had been levelled in London.

London in WWII Pic: National Geographic
London in WWII Pic: National Geographic

Architectural model makers were in demand as rebuilding began. Models were used by architects to show clients how a particular site would look. Primarily they were used by prestige projects such as railway station complexes and whole area redevelopment.

During this time Wood continued his other art projects. The pencil drawing of Mrs Wood below was drawn in 1946. In 1953 Wood became a full time artist.

Mrs Wood by Harold Pic: Mutual Art
Mrs Wood by Harold Wood Pic: Mutual Art

Painter of the Arab world

In 1947 Wood came to the attention of Absul Azziz al Saud (1875-1953), The King of Saudi Arabia.

They had a long relationship. Wood painted the life of the Royal family until 1977. Indeed he completed 58 paintings.

Harold painted for the Saudi Arabian Royal Family Pic: Mutual Art
Harold Wood painted for the Saudi Arabian Royal Family Pic: Mutual Art

It was in Saudi Arabia that Wood developed his love for horses. The Sultan of Oman bred beautiful Arabian horses, and it was this patron who commissioned a number of horse paintings.

Wood often included horses and donkeys in his work.

Harold painted for the Sultan of Oman Pic: Mutual Art
Harold Wood painted for the Sultan of Oman Pic: Mutual Art

Ireland

In 1980 Wood moved to Ireland. In stark contrast to his desert scenes, he began to paint more landscapes and rural scenes. Wood died in 2014 at the age of 96.

Rider in the Forest by Harold Wood Pic: Mutual Art
Rider in the Forest by Harold Wood Pic: Mutual Art



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