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After the Second World War he was offered his first teaching job at Northampton Grammar School where he worked and painted prolifically until he retired. His art room was always a scene of intense creative activity, its walls bursting with papier-mâché figures, African masks, abstract paintings, and portraits of his pupils. The scent of glue-size, linseed oil and turpentine, the dust of plaster of Paris and powder paint filled the air. He would often paint striking reproductions of famous paintings to illustrate his lessons; the sets for the schools regular theatrical productions would be designed, painted and constructed in the art room.

Former pupil and highly regarded potter Tony Lattimer remembers David Gommon's influence on his development:-

David Gommon taught me both ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level art  as a pupil at Northampton Grammar School in the early 1960’s.

I came from a working class background with no contact or necessity for art whatsoever.  The school was essentially academic.  I was not! I arrived in the art room by default rather than intent.

David’s way of teaching had a gentle subtle reality.  He was not overtly demonstrative, but worked by trailing ideas and suggestions across ones often determined unconscious.  I remember images of artists’ work placed by him in the corridor where we waited to go into the lesson: Matisse’s goldfish, Braque’s stylised dove, cubist works of Picasso; images that sank in subliminally.  And then all around the art room large reproductions of the Renaissance masters.

Particularly I remember early Renaissance works by Giotto, Martini, Duccio and the Botticelli and Piero della Francesca masterpieces. At the time they meant little to me, but I remember he suggested (I stress he suggested – his method was to infiltrate rather than to direct.) that I tried to copy a head of Christ by Giovanni Bellini, through which, with his occasional help and gentle prompting, he opened up the brilliance and power of such work. 

I remember he was often working on a painting of his own while the few A Level students were occupied on their own work.  The experience of seeing an adult manipulating paint seriously, but with lightness of touch, connected me to the relationship with creativity that I know forty years later in my own work; as a complex and creative freedom.

Many of the lessons that I imbued in my adolescence because of David’s influence have been further enriched by the discovery, steadily as an older person and over a much longer time, of the significance of David’s oeuvre.  I am convinced that to have any long term capacity to enrich and nourish all souls travelling through the mystery of our individual existence, that an element essential to counter balance the cerebral and functional analysis of an age, is that of poetic content and insight, and it is this that David offered in total measure.

The impact of the forces of existing that we sense through all living things and the forms that impact upon us; the ocean, trees, landscape, are a song of energy manifest, and this I know David captured and conveyed and offers.

 It is both as intangible and as obvious as love.

 His work expressed as vision still informs my hope and I still use this in my own creative search for expression today.

 Tony Lattimer; Penzance, August 2013   www.tonylattimer.com

 

In the 1960’s he delivered WEA lectures on Art for a number of years, in Northampton and the county. He believed strongly that art should be open and accessible to everyone. His last commission, the two large murals at St Crispin’s hospital, Northampton arose from this conviction. Ref bibliography,