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Black country artist John celebrates 80th birthday

By john workman  |  Posted: August 12, 2013

Cross Street, Willenhall, as recorded by John Williams several decades ago.

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Bugle readers will be well aware of the exquisite talent John Williams possesses as an artist, and many of his drawings and sketches of his adopted town of Willenhall have previously graced our pages.

In May this year he celebrated his 80th birthday and because of the excellent job he has done to record many Willenhall views that have either been lost forever or changed beyond recognition, including individual buildings and extensive street frontages, the Bugle felt his invaluable and historically important collection deserved another airing.

We would like to mark John’s landmark birthday by publishing a series of sketches and drawings over several weeks, some of which may have been shown before, but which are definitely worth seeing again.

John Williams was born in Darlaston in 1933 and attended local schools, the Green and Slater School, before the family moved from their back-to-back in the Green to Bentley.

After his school days he worked at a local timber firm before joining the RAF where he worked as an engine mechanic on several types of aircraft including the iconic Meteor jet.

After leaving the RAF John married his sweetheart, a Lane Head girl named Dorothy, and in the early ’60s the couple moved to Willenhall where they still live.

John began sketching from a very early age, despite being told he was red/green colour blind, and he has never lost his love of drawing. Initially he attended evening classes and then a part-time course at the renowned Goodall Street Art College in Walsall, and since the early ’70s the main body of his work has represented an evocative record of a gradually disappearing landscape. He is a member of a number of local societies, including the Willenhall and Darlaston artists group, and he has been a member of the Walsall Society of Artists for over 35 years.

Over recent years John’s eyesight has deteriorated, due to macular degeneration, setting him new challenges, but his passion to record the Black Country as many will remember it will never diminish.

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