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  A picture perfect career
Richard Bryson remembers Clive Madgwick, one of Suffolk’s most prolific
Some artists might say they were born to paint, others take it up in retirement, but not many get out the brushes while pursuing a well paid
profession in their forties. For ex- Sudbury dentist Clive Madgwick, who died in 2005, it was less midlife crisis, more of an epiphany. Struck down by glandular fever, and off work for several weeks, he thought he would renew his schooldays love of art.
Says one of his sons, Guy: “In order to keep himself occupied he started to draw local houses, which the owners rather liked – and then purchased. Initially in pencil, then ink, and eventually turning to watercolours and acrylics.”
Sketches of Melford Green and Lavenham were just the start, with some of his earliest pictures selling for 50p each at Little Waldingfield’s summer fete. He had a home in the village, Churchside, from where he worked,
creating a studio to start what was to become a production line of paintings.
Within the sometimes snobbish art world Clive’s practice of photographing subjects before painting them, rather than sketching in the field, was considered by some as almost cheating.
No doubt his answer would have been that it is not possible to paint from imagination every time and besides, he may have wanted to add a figure to a landscape, or adjust something to make it visually more interesting.
If a criticism, it little mattered, a painting might have only taken a day or two to complete and then it was on to the next one. His English pastoral scenes, sometimes depicting trout fishermen or farmers, soon gained a large following. He added more admirers by building up an impressive international portfolio, applying his same attention to details to vistas in France, Italy, America and beyond.
The tug of war between dentistry, at the Friars Street practice in Sudbury, and
painting tilted completely towards the latter in the 80s. It also coincided with a move to Newton Road in the town.
Success saw him become a member of the Society of Equestrian Artists, the United Society of Artists and most prestigiously, the Royal Society of British Artists. Along the way he won the Royal Landscape Prize in 1985.
Unsurprisingly major commissions followed, with work for a number of corporate clients, such as Boots, Abbey National Building Society, Calor Gas and Manns Claas (the agricultural vehicle manufacturers). Readers of this magazine may have received, or been given, a Christmas card bearing one of Clive’s scenes, which brings us to possibly his biggest personal achievement.
In 1989 the Queen saw a print of Buckingham Palace on a festive card and asked if the original was available. Unfortunately it was sold to the publishing company so Clive repainted
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“After a day in the surgery he would come home and work on until late at night, almost forgetting the time.”
   

















































































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