Chris Ryland obituary

Other lives: Talented painter of flowers with a powerful vision of nature

My friend Chris Ryland, who has died of lung cancer aged 71, was a skilful painter of flowers whose work reflected a faithful observation of the botanical world. He had a powerful and unique vision of nature.

Born in Eastbourne, East Sussex, Chris was the elder son of Henry Ryland, a solicitor, and Betty Larom, a writer and illustrator of children’s books. After their divorce, Betty remarried a fellow illustrator and comic artist, Neville Main. The painter Irene Ryland was Chris’s great-aunt.

He boarded at Stowe school, Buckinghamshire, and in 1969 went on to study art at Goldsmiths’ College (now Goldsmiths University of London), finding a visual language there in pieces he made expressing poetic connections between found objects. On leaving college he joined the 395 Association, a group of community artists living and working in semi-derelict buildings in the then deprived area of New Cross, creating community art activities and painting large-scale murals.

Chris Ryland’s painting of tulips
Chris Ryland’s painting of tulips Photograph: none

For 12 years, Chris lectured in art and design for Southwark council’s adult education programme, while he developed his unique approach to flower painting.

In 1977 he met and married Pamela Newell, who brought six children with her from her previous marriage. Chris proved more than equal to this - he was a greatly respected stepfather and grandfather.

Chris and Pamela moved to an ancient merchant’s house in Gainsborough Street in Sudbury, Suffolk, in 1994, a stone’s throw from the artist Thomas Gainsborough’s birthplace. It came with a suitable space for a large studio where he ran courses in drawing, flower painting, creative watercolour and other media, taking inspiration from the Sudbury meadows and Pamela’s beautiful garden.

Elected a member of the Society of Botanical Artists in 1995, he had solo exhibitions at the John Russell Gallery and the Mall Galleries in London, and at the Wildlife Art Gallery in Lavenham, Suffolk. His paintings won prizes including the president’s award at the annual exhibition of the Society of British Artists at Westminster in 2001 and the St Cuthbert’s Mill award in 2007.

He is survived by Pamela and her children and grandchildren, and by his sister, Carol.

Paul Prestidge

The GuardianTramp

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