Local Face: David Robson

David Robson is an accountant by profession and a keen watercolour artist in his spare time. He has a long association with the Chilterns Art Exhibition which will be held this year at Wendover Junior school on the weekend of 4th- 5th November.

David and his family came to Wendover by serendipity but the first time they visited they knew that it could and would be “home”. In 1986, David was appointed Finance Manager at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. They needed somewhere to live and after three days’ fruitless searching, came across Christopher Pallett’s Aylesbury Office. As luck would have it, they had a couple of properties in Wendover. The agent dropped them off and they instinctively felt that Wendover, set against the backdrop of the Chilterns, was the right place to settle. They found a suitable house and the village has been a source of joy ever since.

With young children, Wendover Middle School, as it was then, became an important part of family life. The friendships made then with other parents and families who had children at the school continue to flourish today. When they left York, many of their friends were very sceptical about the possibility of a Yorkshire family ever settling in “down south” but the very opposite has been the case. They, and their children Helen and Edward, made friends very easily. David reflects that those early supportive friendships have grown and that now, when all their children have grown up and some have left home, the adults still meet up regularly. If anyone of them sees a fundraising event, or any other opportunity for a fun night out, then it is seldom passed up. New Years Eve is celebrated in the honoured tradition at Wendover Clock Tower.

When David was working in Aylesbury, he and his wife, Lorna, had time to and wanted to offer something to the school so both served a on the PTA and David also became a parent governor. David recalls the pleasure in supporting head teacher Ivor Pammenter, deputy Eve Defty and the dedicated teaching staff by raising money to supply the funds for some of the extras.

Inevitably, this led to involvement in the Art Exhibition which was then, and is still now the biggest fund raising event in the school calendar. At the time, the organisation of the event, which starts months before the actual exhibition, was in the capable hands of Claire Owen and David, who painted but had never publicly exhibited, joined her team of helpers. In the first year, he learned the ropes from Claire who was in her third year of running the exhibition, three years in which as a fund raising idea it had gone from strength to strength.

Claire was some act to follow and so with some trepidation, David took on the following year’s event and under the chairmanship of Jeff Adams and John Howard, ran the event for a further three years. A personal breakthrough came in the initial year when he was persuaded that he should hang four of his own paintings and he can still remember the excitement at selling his first paintings on opening night (to a member of the organising committee). David prides himself that the event grew considerably during his years of 1989/90/91 and he was followed by Di Mayhead in 1992/93/94 who continued the good work. Since then a sub-committee has divided up the work as the exhibition just grew and grew in quality, quantity and popularity.

The Chilterns Art Exhibition is held in very high regard with its mixture of professional and amateur artists. The success of the event depends on offering a wide range of work and prices and the recent introduction of unframed work has added greatly to the number of works available for sale. Professional work ranges from the wonderfully detailed paintings of David Turnbull, to the pure watercolour landscapes of Colin Tuffrey, the evocative pastels of Graham Campbell and the vibrant works of Julie Brook. There are landscapes and figurative work. The committee aims to offer something for everyone and they pride themselves on succeeding in this.

David’s personal inspiration comes from modern watercolourists such as Edward Seago, John Yardly and Trevor Chamberlain. His formal qualifications are in accountancy rather than painting and he did not paint after leaving school until he had finished all those evening classes. He really loves the local hills and trees. He claims that the secret of watercolour painting is light and the changing seasons offer a great variety. On holiday he also looks out for the opportunity of different light offered by moving water.

David works in London and regrets the time that he spends commuting which contrasts with life in York when he was never further than a few minutes walk or bicycle ride away from work. Indeed, in those days, the family, including their two small children, used to go everywhere on a tandem. Whilst it has given opportunities his work in London has meant that over the last few years he has had less time to devote to painting but he hopes in the future to devote more time to a serious passion.