John Henderson obituary

Other lives: Artist who took inspiration from the landscape of Cornwall, where he lived for much of his life

My father, John Henderson, who has died aged 79, was an artist whose paintings concentrated on scenes familiar in the landscape of Cornwall, where he lived. Haystacks, tyres, cows in a field, the innumerable greens of hedgerows and their contrasting flowers, as well as quayside ropes and static caravans, all became subjects of years of close work.

He exhibited widely in the 1970s and 80s with solo exhibitions at DM gallery in London and the Newlyn Orion gallery in Cornwall. His work was included in group shows at Espace, Amsterdam; Kunsthal, Rotterdam; OK Harris, New York; and the Whitechapel Gallery, London.

John Henderson at a retrospective exhibition celebrating 50 years of his painting at PZ Gallery, Cornwall, in 2019.
John Henderson at a retrospective exhibition celebrating 50 years of his painting at PZ gallery, Cornwall, in 2019. Photograph: Jack Matthews

He also participated in the Tolly Cobbold/Eastern Arts 2nd National Exhibition in Cambridge, and had work in shows at Fischer Fine Art, London; the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany, France; and Sheila Harrison Fine Art, London.

John was born in Torbay, Devon, to Margery (nee Picton), a biology teacher, and Richard Henderson, an agricultural economist, who died when John was six years old. After attending Truro school, Cornwall, John went to Falmouth School of Art from 1960 to 1964, then Winchester School of Art to study painting before continuing his studies in Haarlem, the Netherlands, at Atelier 63 (now De Ateliers, an independent art programme), on a Dutch government scholarship (1966-68).

It was in the Netherlands that he met our mother, Enid nee Pearl, a sculptor. They married in London in 1969 before settling in Cornwall, first living in Zennor and then Pendeen before moving to the village of Nancledra, Penzance, where they had three children: Hannah, Sonia and me. It was here that John drew his inspiration for his paintings.

In 1989 Enid died of breast cancer. While the circumstances were incredibly tough, John did his best as a single parent to bring up his three young daughters and to continue painting. In the 90s he exhibited at the South West Open and had solo shows at Beaux Arts, Bath, Rainyday gallery, Penzance, and the Chelsea Arts Club, London.

In the early 2000s, when his children had grown up, John spent several years living in the south-west of France before returning to St Just in Cornwall, where he lived until his death. A retrospective exhibition celebrating 50 years of his painting was held at the PZ gallery in Penzance in 2019.

A quiet man with a brilliant sense of mischief and fun, John took huge pride in his children. He was happiest when exploring the countryside, was a voracious reader (including of the Guardian) and only ever wore double denim. He is survived by his daughters, his grandchildren, Samuel and Martha, and his brother, Bill.

Kate Henderson

The GuardianTramp

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