Gerald Gardiner, RWA (1902-1959) Though he was born in London, Gerald Gardiner had an intense feeling for nature, which shows throughout his work as a painter, pastel artist, printmaker and illustrator. Gerald Gardiner was born in London on 17 January 1902. Studying at Beckenham School of Art, under Percy Jowett (1919-23), and the Royal College of Art (1923-27), he exhibited landscapes in oil at the Royal Academy, the New English Art Club and elsewhere, including the provinces. He moved from Farnborough, Kent, to Gloucestershire in 1927, and lived first at Up Hatherley, near Cheltenham, and from 1934 at Lower Nash End, Bisley, Stroud. Employed as second master at Cheltenham School of Art, in charge of the drawing and painting department, he later became Painting Master, a position he retained until his death. During the Second World War, Gardiner served in the Home Guard, but continued to paint, completing three large murals for the Cheltenham Services Club in 1943. After the war, he made several painting expeditions to Argyll, Scotland.
He was elected to the associate membership of the Royal West of England Academy in 1949, becoming a full academician five years later. Following his death in 1959, the Cheltenham Group of Artists mounted a memorial exhibition in March 1960 at Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, his work being shown alongside that of Edith Payne (1875-1959). As an illustrator, Gardiner may be compared to Rowland Hilder and Charles Tunnicliffe. Even when working in pen and ink or scraperboard, all three produced images with the appearance of a wood engraving, and thus suggestive of a particular ethos, that in which artistic values of tradition and craftsmanship are considered a metaphor for a national way of life. For instance, Gardiner’s illustrations to Jesse and His Friends support a text rooted in an unchanging rural present. Each element, including areas of light and shadow, is precise and clear yet knits with the others into a harmonious entity. No note of discord is admitted. His work is represented in the collections of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum.