Former East Anglian Artist documented the rise of maltings from ashes of 1967 fire
A former East Anglian artist, designer, teacher and philanthropist has died at his home on the Isle of Wight at the age of 103.
Cavendish Morton's father was an actor, art director and photographer while his mother was a novelist. Originally from the outskirts of London they spent long periods exploring the south coast before settling in Bembridge, on the Isle of Wight where Mr Morton was born in 1911.
He moved to Suffolk in 1948 and was quick to start a series of paintings depicting the windmills of the region, which were then fast disappearing from the landscape. He and his Dormobile became a regular sight around the countryside.
In an era when there was little opportunity to appreciate modern art outside London, he held a passionate belief that such art should be enjoyed by as wide an audience as possible. Working alongside other East Anglian artists – who soon became friends – like Jeffery Camp, David Carr, Mary Newcomb and Mary Potter, he became a stalwart member of the Norwich Twenty Group and the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society whose shared aim was to make contemporary art accessible.
In 1963 he took up the chairmanship of the Gainsborough's House Society in Sudbury, where he helped shape the way for its future as an independent museum and art gallery.
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He was one of a band of post-war crusaders who changed the face of the art scene in East Anglia.
He enjoyed teaching and worked for many years with Suffolk County Council at Belstead House in Ipswich, where he gave evening classes and summer schools in painting. He was a popular teacher at Hethersett School and he even had a short career as a presenter on a television arts programme, Anglia TV's Afternoon Club for children.
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One of his most creative periods was triggered when he bought a holiday cottage in Aldeburgh, home to the annual Aldeburgh Festival of Music and Arts. Music was always an influence in his life yet here he felt it even affected his painting. He was mesmerised by the moods of the sea, the light and the shapes he saw on the beach, from boats and winches, to nets and crab pots.
It had become obvious that the Aldeburgh Festival needed a dedicated concert hall and in 1965 work started on converting themalting buildings at Snape. As a member of the festival committee, alongside Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, Morton had access to the site and he took an inspirational step when he decided to document the construction work. Snape Maltings opened in 1967 but was burnt to the ground two years later. Morton set to work again and documented its rise from the ashes in a new series of work.
In 1977 he returned to his birthplace Bembridge, on the Isle of Wight. Though he and his wife were hampered with ill health Morton did not slow down as an artist and over the next twenty-five years he became known to a new generation of islanders for his paintings of the Solent and the yachts racing along it.
A man of wit and sharp recall, he cut a dashing figure with his tidy moustache and spotted neckerchief right up until the end of his life.
A degenerative eye disease forced Morton to lay down his brushes for the last time in 2003 aged 92. His final years have been marked by music and reflection, with a number of retrospective exhibitions of his work. In 2009 Gainsborough's House marked his approaching centenary with the exhibition A Life in Art and in 2012 an illustrated book on his life, Conversations with Cavendish Morton, was published.
Much to his pleasure, thirty of his Snape Maltings paintings returned to the concert hall as part of the Benjamin Britten's centenary celebrations of 2013.
Cavendish Morton married Rosemary Britten, a talented musician, in 1946. She died in 2000 and he is survived by their three children, Katherine, Sarah and James.
Cavendish Morton, who was born February 17 1911, died January 30 2015.