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William T Rawlinson

Born: 1912. Died: 1993. Nationality: British.

Rawlinson was born in Liverpool. In 1929, he began his art training at the Liverpool City School of Art where he first learned wood engraving. In 1932 he was awarded a Senior City Art Scholarship which he used to fund a six month sketching and painting tour in France, Italy, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany. He was appointed to a teaching post at Liverpool City School of Art in 1934 before becoming Head of Art at the Liverpool Institute in the following year; at the same time he became a regular exhibitor at the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition, the Royal Cambrian Academy, the Royal Academy and the Society of Wood Engravers and Relief Painters.

In 1941 he joined the Royal Air Force and was posted to the North African desert serving with a mobile radar unit; in 1943 he was appointed an official war artist with the Public Relations Unit based in Tripoli. From there he covered action in Tunis and Algiers as well as the Italian campaign. The paintings and drawings he made in the latter arena were later lodged in the collection of the Hendon RAF Museum while his works relating to the military use of radar are housed in the Imperial War Museum.

After the war Rawlinson returned to Liverpool and to teaching. He served as County Organiser for Art and Craft in Cheshire in 1948, becoming HM Inspector of Schools in 1951. He returned to school teaching in 1953 in Kidderminster, continuing to exhibit regularly for the next four decades – principally at the Royal Academy, the Paris Salon (Silver Medal 1958, Gold Medal 1960), and the Society of Wood Engravers (elected Member in 1972). In 1966 he became Head of Art at Stratford on Avon High School for Girls and was a founding member of the Stratford Art Society and elected President in 1974.

His early wood engravings show an affinity with the distinctive style of Eric Gill but while the influence of European modernism came to influence the work of many English print-makers at that time, Rawlinson remained within the neo-romantic tradition, often focussing upon quintessential pastoral subject matter. He travelled widely in Britain, producing beautifully observed images of the landscape and rural architecture at locations in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Yorkshire and the West Midlands. Alongside these, however, he also made and exhibited many evocative studies based on drawings he made in his earlier travels to places such as Rome, Dresden, Tunisia, Algiers and Egypt.

Rawlinson’s work can be seen in a number of public collections, including the Asmolean Museum, Oxford; the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Brighton Art Gallery; Aberystwyth University; the Dresden Museum and the Appleton Gallery, Syracuse, New York.

Ten of the eleven works by Rawlinson listed below were presented to the University by Peter Stewart, Rawlinson's executor, and were chosen to illustrate the scope of the artist's output between the 1930s and 1980s. A further twenty-five works from the Stewart gift are held in the European Print Collection at Aberyswyth University.

Water Skiers
Stainforth, Yorkshire
The Old Fig Tree, Tripoli, North Africa
Bay of Tunis from Sidi Bou Said
Trinita del Monte from the Pincio, Rome
Beechwood, near Broadway
Mountain Stream, Nant Ffrancon, Wales
Llyn Ogwen, North Wales