Service to remember top North East wildlife artist James Alder

Exhibition and service celebrates the life and works of Ponteland artist and ornithologist James Alder

Artist James Alder with his painting of the wild cattle of Chillingham
Artist James Alder with his painting of the wild cattle of Chillingham

One of the North East’s greatest wildlife artists was remembered on Friday at the historic church in the area where he spent his boyhood.

The Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Martin Wharton, joined in the celebration of the life and works of artist and ornithologist James Alder at the Grade I listed 18th Century St Ann’s Church off City Road in Newcastle.

An exhibition of James’s work and photographs donated by his family was also held, and will be repeated on July 4-6.

James, who lived in Ponteland in Northumberland, died in 2007.

He was born the son of a docker in 1920 near the riverside at Saint Ann’s in the Battlefield area of Newcastle.

He went on to paint for the Queen and the Queen Mother.

He attended the Royal Jubilee School where a Salvation Army hostel now stands, and at the age of 13 he held his first exhibition at the school.

His mother encouraged his talent for drawing and his headmaster presented him with drawing materials and gave him further encouragement and time to develop his talent.

James won a scholarship to attend art classes at King’s College in Newcastle.

The Royal Worcester Porcelain company appointed James as consultant sculptor and he was also president of the Natural History Society of Northumbria and a founder member of Northumberland Wildlife Trust.

Exhibition Organiser Mike Summersby, who is secretary of the Friends of At Ann’s Church, said: “James never lost his deep affection for his Battlefield roots. “He was founding Patron of The Friends of Saint Ann’s and produced work to help us raise funds for our mission to preserve and enhance this beautiful Georgian building.

“The service and exhibition remembers the legacy James left, which should not be forgotten.

“He was one of the greatest wildlife artists the North East has produced and he was very generous to St Ann’s.

“We do not want to let his memory fade away.”

Visitors could buy signed prints of James’s work signed by James at prices from £2.50 to £100 for a full size mounted bookplate from the original print run of the books he illustrated for

the Queen and Queen Mother, also signed by James.

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