Neil Lawson Baker

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Neil Lawson Baker
Neil Lawson Baker.jpg
Neil Lawson Baker – taken in 2007
Born (1938-11-08) 8 November 1938 (age 79)
Watford, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Nationality British
Education Self taught
Known for Painting, sculpture, photography, author
Movement Contemporary

Neil Lawson Baker (born 1938) is a British artist, sculptor, photographer and author of childrens books.

Early life[edit]

Neil Lawson Baker attended Merchant Taylors' School in Northwood, Middlesex and then went on to Guy's Hospital in London where he qualified as a dental surgeon. Wishing to further his career, he followed on by studying medicine and qualified as a doctor in 1969 at St George's Hospital at Hyde Park Corner in the heart of London's West End (the building is now the Lanesborough Hotel).Lawson Baker then went on to practise at The 31 Wilton Place Practice where he became senior partner and continued as a leading Dental Surgeon for a further 40 years, specialising in high quality restorative dentistry. He also founded The Oral Hygiene Centre at No1 Devonshire Place in the heart of London's Harley Street area. This was the first truly preventive dental practice of its type founded in 1978 and it certainly helped to pioneer preventive dentistry. He retired from practice at the age of 70 years – calling it "a career change" – into the art world. In his 80th year he enjoys his home and family in West Sussex and writes Childrens Stories about the fantasy life of a Vet in Bowdleflodeland.

Artistic career[edit]

His first artistic expression came while at school where he made a lot of pottery, little of which survives.

Baker used his medical and dentistry knowledge to fund his passion for art and travelled the world visiting galleries and acquiring contemporary art for his home in London. He developed a keen eye and formed a great interest, initially in the sculpture of Rodin and his school of followers, later moving to more contemporary schools.

His artistic passion was helped by meeting Adrien Maeght, the famous French art gallery and museum owner, who organised the Paris – Nice vintage car rally in 1970 (Baker was a keen competitions driver in vintage cars). Invitations to visit the Galerie Maeght in Rue du Bac in Paris and later the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence to see paintings, sculpture and lithography by Picasso, Miró, Léger, Calder, Arp and many others, had a huge influence on what was to come.

After years of viewing and collecting, in 1987, during his recovery from a serious illness, Baker began to model sculptures as recuperative therapy. His surgeon's eye–hand skills were helped by a lesson from Kees Verkade, the well-known Dutch sculptor. Kees showed Baker how to model in wax. Baker soon found himself meeting Eric Gibbard at the Burleighfield Foundry who had done work for the Tate Gallery, Elizabeth Frink, Philip Jackson, and Oscar Nemon, indeed Eric cast every bronze of Barbara Hepworth's after 1952.

Eric became Baker's friend and mentor and took him to Paris to meet Charles Pinellis at the famous Susse-Fondeur foundry in Arcueil. As a result, he soon produced many bronze sculptures both in the UK and France and began selling to private collectors and then to corporate clients and governments.

His works can now be found in public places both in the UK and abroad. His sculptures may be seen in the entrance to the offices of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster; at British Gas Headquarters in Reading and Loughborough; in The London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange; near Albert Bridge at Sterling House on the River Thames; at the National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur; at Beirut University College in Lebanon and many other important sites. A recent work was commissioned by Seaward Properties and installed in Church Square in East Street Chichester, West Sussex. It is a bronze Mother and Child called 'Nurture'

Baker was also responsible for the sculpture unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II with President Mitterrand when they opened the Channel Tunnel in May 1994.

Late in 2003 Baker began to use colour and work on two dimensional pieces for the first time. His contemporary works of art are mostly abstract and vibrant and he is prolific in his output.

Baker uses Conté, watercolour and acrylic interchangeably. Many of the works are reminiscent of the art of the jazz musician (he was the lead saxophonist in his own swing band for some years, supporting more well-known bands) Baker moves his brush through the world of colour with great virtuosity. He paints as he played, with freedom and fluidity.

Since 2007, Baker has also been exploring the world of high resolution photography as a fine art form producing a distinct style of work notably of Venice, Buenos Aires and London.

In 2006, Baker was appointed to the board of the Arts Club in London and in 2007, he was appointed chairman of the Trustees of the Chichester Art Trust, which manages and stages the National Open Art Competition and its exhibitions both in Chichester and London.

As of 2017 Baker is an author and professional sculptor. In early 2018 he completed his role as chairman of the Chichester Art Trust and National Open Art. He now writes Childrens Stories and has recently launched Bowdleflodes Ltd and is building an online 'fantasy' zoo with childrens creative 'fantasmagorical' drawings and each submission is linked to supporting endangered species, either in zoos or in wildlife programmes.

Recent exhibitions[edit]

  • "Renaissance Man" The Oxmarket Gallery. Chichester, West Sussex. 2010. A 20-year retrospective.
  • "The Role of Photography in Contemporary Interior Design" presentation by Jane Arte Watt (BIDA, JAG Contemporary Design) at Franco's, Jermyn Street, London.
  • "The Russian Reception" photographic display in Canning House, Belgrave Square, London. March 2008.
  • "New Dimension: Fashion and Landmarks" – one month photography exhibition at The Burlington Club, London. February 2008.
  • "DepARTure" – The Arts Club, London: paintings, sculptures and photography. November 2007.

Personal life[edit]

Neil Lawson Baker is married to Grace Lawson Baker, a speech and language therapist, and lives in West Sussex. His studio is in an 18th century barn at his home. He spends most of his time running the National Open Art Competition as chairman of the Chichester Art Trust. He also drives his classic cars, pursues his personal artistic interests, particularly as a sculptor, and travels.

External links[edit]