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Arnold Machin (continued)

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Arnold Machin was born in the year the Titanic was launched, three years before the beginning of the First World War, and lived to the last year of the 20th century.  

His personal experience and its influence on his work is self-evident and he never wavered from his profound sense of truth and human values in his time of massive material and social changes.  

"I must have been born with a pencil in my hand, for I was drawing from the very earliest days, and I used to sit on a little stool, made by my father, using his armchair as a work table.  The whole family would stint themselves to provide me with books, pencils, water colours, scraps of paper and wrapping paper which which to work". 
  • The Child Fishing, 1916. 
    Ink and water colour on paper.  38 x 28 cm. 

Executed by Arnold Machin at the age of 5 or 6, his earliest known work.

"During my last few weeks at school I was allowed to draw and paint the whole time, much to my delight.  The teacher who had a special interest in art gave me help and encouragement, one day bringing in a bunch of flowers from his garden for me to paint.  He took a great deal of trouble to make a suitable arrangement, placing the flowers in a green vase on a ledge in front of the blackboard, then draping a blue duster behind and securing it with a drawing pin".
  • Vase of Flowers, 1925. 
    Water colour, 51.5 x 39 cm. 

Inscribed below:
Drawing done at Trent Vale Church of England School, and taken to Mintons to get my first job to train as a china painter. 

In 1925, aged 14, Arnold Machin began his apprenticeship with Monton.  His career there came to a halt with the Wall Street crash of 1929.  This did provide Machin with the opportunity to spend time at Burslem Art School and turn his hand to modelling.  From here he moved to Derby.

Out of work, Machin answered an advertisement and found employment as a painter at The Old Derby China Works and while he was there attended Derby School of Art.

From Derby Machin won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Art.  These pre-war years in London were very influential, and the time at the RCA culminated in winning the top award, the silver medal, and a travelling scholarship. 

The outbreak of war prevented Machin from taking up his travelling scholarship, and he returned to the Potteries where he taught part-time at the School of Art and was employed by Wedgwood.  It was whilst at the Royal College of Art that Arnold Machin first came to the notice of Josiah Wedgwood V. It was a time of experimentation as Wedgwood strove to find the formula for success on the home market, but above all in the United States.  
  • Designs for decoration of a teapot, early 1940s.  Pencil and water colour.  The tea stains on the scan are supposed to be there ... 

Arnold Machin was known as a religious man, and his religious works are numerous, both sculptures and drawings.  

It is evident from the volume of Machin's religious works, produced from the earliest period at the Royal Adacemy of Art to the end of his life and from his Memoirs, that he never wavered from his religious beliefs. 

  • Angel with Crown of Thorns, 1997.

Signed lower right.  Pencil, 27 x 19.5 cm.  First exhibited Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, 1997, as 695. 

Arnold Machin was a skilled painter, particularly in water colours, and his scenic views of the British landscape are second to none.  

Other than the various fields of arts shown here, Machin was a skilled designer of coins and medals, a garden- and architecture designer, and sculptor.  As late as 1998, one year before he died in March, he was invited by the Royal Mint to enter designs for the Millennium medal competition.  

The exhibition catalogue which is the source for these pages contains a large number of colour photographs of his works in various fields, many more than it would ever be possible to show here without "copying" the catalogue.

We, the stamp collectors, will always remember Arnold Machin by his exquisite stamp design, commonly known as "Machins", which are collected world wide, and for which a special catalogue has been issued by Douglas Myall (Deegam). .  


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