Friday, December 18, 2015

The Founders of the Umbrella

Bill Berrett has identified that -

"The real movers in early Umbrella Club were Terry Watson, Neil Stair (an English teacher who did the White Devil by Webster) Geoffrey Saunders (I can't recall what his work was, but he made a great contribution to the early building decor), Rex Chell and Stanley Sellers, Architects from the City Department. All these did most of the work and negotiation."

I don't have a lot of information about them but I do know, is here. I have already created a post about Terrence Watson (Chair and Vice chair and editor of Umbrella Magazine) and a page for his new poetry book.

Neil was an English teacher who did the White Devil - a play by Webster at St. Mary's Hall, Coventry, for Umbrella Club in the 50's.

White Devil on Youtube.

Geoff Sauders was a founding member of the Umbrella Club, a writer, artist and who wrote for the Umbrella magazine as Geoffrey Demdike.  He was also a founding member of the magaine and wrote an article called Smedley's Hydro, Smedley's Hydropathic Instituition in Matlock, in the magazine here page 17 of the pdf of Umbrella Vol1 1958.

Geoff also designed the cover of this issue of Umbrella - here - 

Geoff Saunders is mentioned here
Peter Eugene Ball
  is a prolific British sculptor, whose work can be found in over 60 churches. Born in 1943, Ball attended Coventry school of Art where he met Geoffrey Saunders, an art history tutor, with whom he made a photographic survey of Romanesque carvings and prehistoric monuments throughout the United Kingdom.

Rex was still a Coventry Archtect in the 1970's and designed the link between the new and old Council house in Coventry, along with other projects.

A Coventry Architect and founding member of the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club.

An obituary December 1933 — 5 April 2013 Honorary Vice-President (2008); Friends of Birmingham Museums &Art Gallery
Stanley was born in Bordesley Green and educated in Birmingham. At 17, he enrolled in the Birmingham School of Architecture, after graduating in 1955, he joined Coventry City Council, moving 4 years
later to join James A Roberts Associates; who were the designers of the Rotunda and had their offices
on the top floor. He stayed with them for 21 years subsequently moving to the ISH Partnership for a further 11 years up to his retirement. Stanley’s list of major architectural projects is large and varied; and includes Mander Centre in Wolverhampton with, at the time, a controversial Barbara Hepworth bronze which won a Civic Trust Award; the Solihull Library and Arts Centre which won a Civic Trust Commendation; The Loft Theatre in Leamington Spa; Wrexham Library and Arts Centre, as well as a whole range of buildings in Solihull and Birmingham City Centre.

He was also a talented and respected potter in his own right, a passionate connoisseur, collector of the visual and applied arts, and an incredibly well informed music lover. In his 20s Stanley was a frequent visitor to St Ives and was a close friend of Barbara Hepworth, as well as socialising with Bernard Leach and many others from within the St Ives ‘School’. He was a member of  the Friends for many years, later serving as Treasurer; he was created Honorary Vice-President in 2008. Stanley continued to support and advised on the Friends events and activities until earlier this year. He was a passionate supporter of the Museum and its work.

Stanley had a supportive 44 year partnership with Richard Butt, a respected Radio3 Producer and long
term Conductor of the Birmingham Bach Choir. Their home in Solihull was a happy and welcoming environment to their many and varied friendships. They were great supporters of CBSO and Birmingham Royal Ballet and Sir Peter and Lady Knight were friends as were Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears and Imogen Holst. He was extraordinarily knowledgeable and interesting to talk to on a host of subjects, never losing his enthusiasm and interest in the world about him, he will be sadly missed by many. A week before he died he told one of his cousin’s he had had a wonderful life, had met many great, good and famous people and that, ’that’s not bad for a boy from the back streets of Birmingham’.

Stanley has made a very generous and significant bequest to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery that is both a testament to his commitment to the Museum and also to his extraordinary life, his excellent ‘eye’, his intelligence and incredible knowledge. It is hoped that next year there will be an exhibition based on his bequest. At Stanley’s request his family sold his pottery collection and the proceeds from this sale were split between Solihull Association for the Blind and the Friends of Birmingham Museums. He also included the Friends as one of only two beneficiaries of donations in his memory.
Graham Allen, A Friend as well as a Trustee of Birmingham Museums Trust

Sunday, December 13, 2015


The Coventry Arts Umbrella Club has published a selection of  Terrence Watson's poems under the editorial direction of Bob Wright and this book is now available at all major booksellers (including Amazon). The publisher is Earlsdon-based Takahe Publishing Ltd. Terry was a leading light in the Coventry Umbrella Club that was formally established in 1955 and continues to this day.

You can find out more about Terry and a link to his new book of poetry here

Terry Watson was born Terence Charles Watson in 1920. He was educated at the Stationers' Company School in London studied at Magdalen College Oxford under the tutorial guidance of C S Lewis. His studies were interrupted by service in the RAF in the Second World War and he finally graduated in 1947. He taught for five years at Cottesmore School and came to Coventry in 1955 to take up a post teaching English and Art at King Henry VIII School in Coventry. He became a leading light in the Coventry Umbrella Club that was formally established in 1955 and continues to this day. One of Terry's earliest role at the Umbrella was as editor of the club's well respected literary magazine Umbrella, which boasted work by likes of Philip Larkin and E.M. Forster. Terry shared his wide ranging skills with the Umbrella,as literary editor, poet, theatre director, painter and exhibition curator and promoter as well as heading up the Umbrella Club organisation.  Above all he was passionate about encouraging artistic creativity in others,especially those who seemed to lack confidence in their own potential. In later years he taught Creative Writing at Tile Hill College and in his 70's became interested in yoga and practised to the degree that he qualified as a teacher of Yoga (Sironami Tejas) in Florida USA.He was proud to be made Freeman of the City of London and a member of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and newspaper Makers.Terry passed away in 2009 at the age of 89. This volume was edited by Bob Wright and includes a range of Terry's poetical works including of his war poems written in active service.

Sample poems -


of the sea
fell sheer

So her hair
glittering shines and falls

Waves of her hair
shimmer and fall
away and fall

fall swaying

and shine

and fall

of the sea
fall sheer

So her hair
glittering shines
and falls

Terence Watson 1968

Terry Watson's War Poems are brave, heartfelt and observant and some are included in this anthology - here's an example.

Infantryman (1939 - 1945)

Now the time has come for the heavy artillery
Loud-voiced, and to swing high over my head,
Fierce herald of the attack, ribbing the sky.
The planes above are creeping over the earth's ceiling.
Light feels towards the grey, unknown antagonist.
Now the mountainous iron tanks, inhuman, unfeeling
Throb with the surge of their powerful, harsh-tongued engines.
Grind forward,splintering stones with steel feet.
Now is the time to slide back the silver bolt
And press the austere round up the rifle's spout,
To run a sensitive finger along the cool bayonet,
To ease the web straps straining the shoulder blades,
To crush the last cigarette under the boot heel.
For we are near the end of our journey
And the setting down of burdens.
Like children from school we shall burst
Into this playground, and the choice
Of two freedoms shall be decided for us.