Issue date: 17 November 2003

ISSUE DATE: 17/11/03

The University of the West of England will award the honorary degree of Master of Arts to Jack Bridger Chalker ARCA RWA Hon FMAA on Wednesday 19 November. The honorary degree will be conferred at the Award Ceremony of the Faculty of Art, Media and Design at 11.30am at Bristol Cathedral.

Jack Chalker was born in London, educated at Alleyn’s School, Dulwich and studied Graphics and Painting at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He won a scholarship to the Painting School of the Royal College of Art, London, but was unable to take up that opportunity immediately due to the outbreak of the Second World War.

In 1939, Jack Chalker joined the Royal Field Artillery for service in the Far East. He was captured by the Japanese in February 1942. After imprisonment in Changi and in Havelock Road Labour Camp, Singapore Town, the last three years of his capture were spent on the Thai Burma Railway project and his life as a prisoner was recorded in his paintings and drawings.

On release in 1945, Jack Chalker was attached to the Australian Army HQ in Bangkok as a War Artist, completing illustrations for official medical and military history records. His work from that period is to be found in the Australian, United Kingdom, Canadian, New Zealand, Dutch and Thai official records and was presented as evidence at the Tokyo War trials.

Returning to the United Kingdom, Jack Chalker finally took up his scholarship at the Painting School, Royal College of Art, the following year. He graduated with an honours degree and was subsequently appointed Director of Art at Cheltenham Ladies College, with a concurrent post of visiting tutor in Painting at Cheltenham College of Art. In 1950, he was appointed Principal of Falmouth College of Art; an entirely new school which he helped establish and developed. In 1952, he became Art Advisor for the County of Cornwall, a role he undertook for a period of six years.

Jack Chalker was appointed Principal of the West of England College of Art, Bristol in 1958, and became Head of the Faculty of Art and Design in 1969 on its incorporation into Bristol Polytechnic. During his time as Principal, he initiated and encouraged contact with the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the BBC orchestras. He was elected a member of the Royal West of England Academy in 1959 and has regularly contributed to its exhibition programmes since that time.

Jack Chalker has served as: a Chief Examiner for the Southern Universities Joint Board; a member of the Committee of Management for Art and Design Education, Department of Education and Science; Chairman of the Regional Council Diplomas Committee for the West Region; Chairman of the Regional Council Art Sub-Committee; and, Chairman of its Industrial Liaison Committee.

On retirement from Bristol Polytechnic in 1974, Jack Chalker became an Art and Design consultant for Birmingham University. In 1992 he became a member of the exploratory team for ‘Limbs and Things’, a project aimed at developing simulated human tissue and clinical training organ assembly for manual examination, surgical and hysteroscopic procedures. He continues to work as a painter, illustrator and medical artist. His work is exhibited in the Imperial War Museum, and the Army Museum, London, the Australian War Memorial Museum, Canberra, the United States of America, Holland and Thailand. A new permanent Jack Chalker Gallery was opened in Thailand in October 2002.

The Honorary Degree is awarded in recognition of Jack Chalker’s national reputation as an artist, and of his contribution to the West of England College of Art and the Royal West of England Academy.


Back to top