James Fletcher-Watson, RI, RBA, FRIBA (1913-2004)

My father was one of Britain’s leading 20th century watercolour painters, who specialized in landscapes. He was also an award-winning architect, whose design for a church in Bawdeswell, west Norfolk, was grade II listed during his lifetime.

During World War II he served with the Royal Engineers in India and Burma, building gun emplacements and designing camouflage and airport runways. During his four years’ tour of duty, he was able to sketch and paint the landscape, buildings and people, as well as illustrate some of the work he undertook. He returned home with a portfolio of watercolours which, in 2000, were published as Soldier Artist in Wartime India. (This is still available by mail order from http://www.jamesfletcherwatson.com/.)

His family came from Norfolk, where he spent most of the first half of his life. He practiced architecture in the Pulls Ferry, Norwich, office of his uncle, Cecil Upcher, which he inherited when Cecil retired. His speciality was the renovation and design of country houses for the local gentry and he built the Bishops House [Palace] in Norwich Cathedral Close.

His painting career ran parallel to the architecture, and he exhibited widely, in particular with the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour (RI) and the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA), of both of which he was a member.

When his children were small he did paintings of their toys and teddies accompanied by appropriate verses and invariably including the child in the visual and verbal narrative.

After his first marriage broke up he left Norfolk for London. He worked on some important commissions including a library and student accommodation at Nottingham University.

He met and married his second wife and they settled in the Cotswolds. Eventually he decided to devote himself full time to painting and teaching. He gained a loyal following of students, wrote a number of teaching books and made several demonstration DVDs, one released in 2013 to celebrate his centenary (available from APV films: http://www.apvfilms.com/.)

I have prepared an illustrated talk about my father’s life to celebrate his centenary which has been given to a number of groups. All fees are donated to the Artists General Benevolent Institution (http://www.agbi.co.uk/), a charity supported by my father. It celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2014, having been founded by Turner in 1814 to help artists in difficulties.