Old friend of the blog Andy Dennis has asked if I’d share his quest to find out what became of local artist Joan Jackson and her husband Les who lived near Newtown, Brownhills: A painting created by Joan hangs in Stonnall church and one of Andy’s readers, Wendy Cooke, is trying to find out more about this talented and accomplished artist who was a friend of Andy’s parents.
This is yet another great article on Andy’s fascinating blog, which I commend to all readers with an interest not just in local history but wider genealogy too.
If you can help Andy and Wendy, please do: As a random suggestion, has anyone tried Walsall Society of Artists who may well have known Joan?
Andy Dennis wrote:
This original oil painting was based on a photograph, probably black and white, taken before Joan and her husband were forced to move after the house was condemned in about 1967.
Recently, I received a request from Wendy Cooke, who wrote:
I am interested in finding out about a picture of St Peter’s Church Stonnall painted by a Joan Jackson of Brownhills and which hangs in the vestry of St. Peter’s Church, Stonnall.
I am doing voluntary work as a Church Recorder for NADFAS (National Society for Decorative and Fine Arts). I would be interested in finding out any History about the artist and her work.
I have looked on the internet and came across your website.
Thank you in anticipation.
I don’t know very much about Joan, as we visited infrequently, and I tended to gravitate more towards her husband, Les.
What do I think I know?
The birth of Joan Davies was registered in the first quarter of 1920 at Cannock, Staffordshire, indicating date of birth in that quarter or towards the end of 1919, though I believe a period of six months was allowed. From recollection, Joan was local to Brownhills, so she was probably born somewhere north of Watling Street and west of Howdles Lane. The precise date and location could be found out by obtaining a copy of the Entry of Birth from the General Register Office (GRO), reference: 1920 Jan-Feb-Mar Cannock 6b 1193.
In the spring of 1946 Joan married Leslie Albert Jackson (GRO ref: 1946 Apr-May-Jun Cannock 6b 1171). After marrying, Joan and Les moved into number 43 Chapel Street, generally known as the back lane, which I believe Les had inherited from his grandmother.
Les (1919-1996) was an engineer of some considerable ability and was suitably rewarded by his employer Parsons, for whom he designed, among other things, turbines for generating electricity in power stations. As a hobby, he also made astronomical telescopes, including the lenses, from scratch. While there they were close friends with my parents and together they would go dinghy sailing, walk on Cannock Chase, and play cards, a favourite being canasta.
Joan, I think I recall, had some kind of office job that was also quite well paid, so, having no children and no mortgage, they were comfortably off, though ostentation was not their thing. Joan was relatively tall, slender and had fair hair, which she always wore short: definitely a practical sort, but although she stood for little nonsense, always seemed warm and friendly.
There were no children, and I never knew anything about family on either side.
As I recall it, Joan only took up painting upon retirement, probably in 1985. By then they had moved to 9 Watling Street, at the eastern corner of Watling Street, Dawes Lane, just down from Knaves Castle. I only went there a few times, the last when Joan was rather tipsy, but I do remember there was a wall covered with her works, all framed by Les. They included landscapes, among which were several in Wales, local scenes and still life. After that we lost touch and when I enquired someone else was living at 9 Watling Street, but they were unable to say what happened to them.
I am reasonably confident that Les died aged 77 in 1996 (GRO ref: 1996 Oct Walsall A52A 0751A 84).
What became of Joan, or her paintings, or, indeed, Les’s telescopes, I have no idea.
So, does anyone know more? If you can help, please contact me through the contact page, or directly to andrewskindred at gmail dot com.