Arts and Design

Jack Chesterman obituary

My friend Jack Chesterman, who has died aged 84, was a former art lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University who developed a large body of artistic work depicting the life of the sea. One of his specialities was watercolour paintings of boat hulls.

Jack regularly exhibited his work, especially in his later years, including through solo shows at Dean Clough galleries in Halifax; the Ferens in Hull; Shetland Museum and Archive in Lerwick; the Gallery in Oldham; the ISIA gallery in Urbino, Italy; and in 2018 at the Maritime Museum of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia.

His art is also held in many public collections, including at the Stedelijk Museum in the Netherlands and the Greenwich library in London, as well as in private collections worldwide.

Jack Chesterman, whose paintings reflected sea life, was a keen sailor in his spare time
Jack Chesterman, whose paintings reflected sea life, was a keen sailor in his spare time

Jack was born in Lahore in pre-partition India (now in Pakistan) to Molly Chesterman and her husband, Vivyan, a lieutenant colonel in the British army; in later life Jack took his mother’s surname. In 1947, when he was eight, the family left for England, where Jack attended Wellington school in Somerset.

Once he had finished his education he became a farmhand near Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, spending most of his earnings on paint, brushes and books about art. His interest in painting was put on hold by three years of national service in the Household Cavalry in the late 1950s, but on demob he signed up, in 1960, for studies at Leeds College of Art, followed by three years at the Royal College of Art.

Graduating in 1966, he returned to Leeds College of Art to teach graphic arts there, transferring in 1968 to the newly formed Leeds Polytechnic as a senior lecturer and rising to be principal lecturer, then director of printmaking studies and finally BA graphic design course leader.

While at Leeds Polytechnic, where he was my tutor in the early 90s, Jack developed links between its visual arts department and the Henry Moore Foundation, initiating an artists-in-residence programme. After the polytechnic became Leeds Metropolitan University (now Leeds Beckett University), he established staff and student exchange programmes in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

When Jack retired in 1996 he began to get down to some of the artistic projects his teaching career had interfered with.

Life Boat From the Oceanic, watercolour by Jack Chesterman, 2005
Life Boat From the Oceanic, watercolour by Jack Chesterman, 2005

In the early 2000s he also became involved in an educational scheme funded by Creative Partnerships, part of the government’s Excellence in the Cities initiative, which promoted drawing in Tees Valley, Bradford and Leeds schools with the aim of encouraging students to discover a sense of identity in the places in which they lived.

Outside art, Jack loved sailing. He also enjoyed walking in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.

He met Jo Cheeseman when they were students at Leeds School of Art. They married in 1964, and Jo became an art teacher. She survives him, along with their children, Hannah and Sam, and grandchildren, Jack, Alice and Seth.


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