Storm Clearning Venice at Sunset, Watercolour, 8'' x 10'', SOLD
Sunset Over Venice, Watercolour, 7'' x 10'', SOLD
Blue Tit, Watercolour, 5'' x 5'', SOLD
1928 - 2000
In 1955, the artist Ian Armour-Chelu had a meeting that transformed his life. It was with another artist, the Slade-trained Angela Burfoot. They married, and eked out a living from any work they could find: book jackets, house plans, a vast family tree for a Belgian aristocrat. Ian even won the one-off Inn Sign Championship of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In 1961, the couple moved from west London to Suffolk, and in 1967 put a poster outside their house announcing an exhibition of their paintings. To their astonishment, the works sold.
That summer there was a joint show at the Yoxford gallery, and, in 1968, another in Aldeburgh. The first of Ian's successful one-man shows was at the Sladmore gallery, in London, in 1972. For 15 years, he developed the Suffolk watercolours which made his name. The increasingly hedgeless countryside distressed him; but in all the paintings, there was yearning for a lost golden age.
In 1983, he made his first trip to Venice, which resulted in wonderful transcendent watercolours. Later, trips to France led him towards oils, and rich, warm landscapes.
Ian came from the large family of an Essex railway clerk. He went to 27 different schools and, at the age of 10, experienced the first of his mother's periodic abandonment of her children - they were taken into Dr Barnardo's for five months. In 1940, the children were evacuated to East Anglia, an encounter with the countryside that Ian called "a magic time".
In 1942, scenting commercial possibilities, his mother entered Ian's paintings in an Aid To Russia exhibition. Later, he began an art course at West Ham municipal college, but his mother removed him during his second year. At 15, he took a job with the London Press Exchange. He became a farm labourer and, by 1946, was working as a staff artist for the Methodist Missionary Society - while attending evening classes at Chelsea School of Art.
Ian was full of a passionate integrity, intolerant of the second-rate. He was also tender, compassionate and funny. At the heart of his life was Angela, who, with his four daughters, survives him.