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Adams, Normanlocked

British, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 9 February 1927, in London; died 9 March 2005, in London.

Painter, illustrator, theatre designer. Religious themes.

London Group.

Norman Adams was a student at Harrow School of Art (1940-1946) before he went on to the Royal College of Art in London (1948-1951), where he was awarded the bronze medal in the discipline of painting. He began his career as an art teacher at St Alban's Art School, working part-time in order to prepare for his first solo exhibition, which took place in 1952 at the Gimpel Fils Gallery in London. He became a member of the London Group in 1957. He was appointed head of painting at Manchester College of Art from 1962 until 1970, after which he became visiting tutor at Leeds University (1973-1976). Adams was made a member of the Royal Academy in 1972 and an honorary member of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1987. He was appointed Keeper of the Royal Academy in 1986, a post he held for 9 years.

In 1954, Adams was commissioned to produce a mural painting for Broad Lane comprehensive school. Later commissions include illustrations for parts of the Old Testament for Oxford University Press (1967); a mural scheme for St Anselm's Church in Kennington (1971); and ceramic panels of the Stations of the Cross for the Roman Catholic Church at Coffee Hall in Milton Keynes (1975). In 1994, he was commissioned to paint the Stations of the Cross again, this time for St Mary's Church in Manchester; the commissioned works went on display at the Royal Academy in London before they were installed.

Group Exhibitions

1973, Landscape Paintings by Norman Adams, Adrian Berg, John Hubbard, Edward Middleditch, Serpentine Gallery, London

Solo Exhibitions

1952, Gimpel Fils, London

from 1953, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, London

1973, University Gallery, Leeds

1988, Norman Adams: Colour Chart of a Way, Royal Academy of Art, London (also presented at Wakefield Art Gallery)

1995, Royal Academy of Arts, London

1996, 1998, 2001, Beaux Arts Gallery, London

2000, Linton Court Gallery, Settle, North Yorkshire

2002, Royal Academy of Art (an exhibition to celebrate his 75th birthday)

2005, Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University, Lancaster (retrospective exhibition of watercolours and oil paintings)

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Aberdeen (AG and Mus.)

Bradford (Cartwright Hall AG)

Carlisle (City AG)

Edinburgh (MMA)

Harrogate (Mercer AG): Jura from Kilmory (1962, watercolour)

Kendal (Abbot Hall AG)

Lancaster (St Martin's College)

Leeds (City AG)

Leeds (University)

Lisbon (Gulbenkian Foundation): Cycle of Love and Death (1993, graphite and watercolour on paper)

London (Tate Collection): The Whole (The Dream I) (1964, oil on canvas); Christ's Cross and Adam's Tree (1989, oil on canvas)

Newcastle (Hatton Gal.)

Southampton (City AG)

Wakefield (City AG)

Auction Records

London, 12 Sept 2002: Artist in his Environment (1985, oil on canvas, 49 × 49 ins/125 × 125 cm) GBP 1,800


  • Fuller, Peter: Norman Adams: Colour Chart of a Way, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1988.