Born in Tynemouth, Northumberland, the son of a scientist, Ernest was educated at Bootham Friends' School in York and then came to Newlyn in 1907 to study with Stanhope Forbes. He quickly become recognized as the best student of the School. He acted as Assistant to Stanhope FORBES and Elizabeth FORBES and contributing significantly to the publication produced by Elizabeth FORBES and Tennyson JESSE, The Paper Chase (1908,1909). Ernest was well loved by all who knew him, and respected for his excellent teaching. He spent 1910-11 studying at Atelier Colarossi, Paris, marrying his fellow pupil and artist, Dod SHAW in 1912. He also loyally served on the Committee of the Newlyn Society of Artists for many years. During WWI, a committed Quaker, he worked for the Friends Ambulance Service in France (See pl 18 in WAR, Fine Art Society 2009).
The couple returned to Newlyn in 1918, and with Harold HARVEY he founded a School of Painting called the Harvey-Procter School (1920) which ran throughout most of the 1920s. Meantime he also designed an altar screen for St Mary's Church, Chapel Street, Penzance (destroyed by fire 1985), and paintings for his friend Father Bernard Walke (called 'Ber') at St Hilary Church nearby, Visitation (1933) and Deposition (1935). In 1920 he and Dod were commissioned to decorate the Kokine Palace in Rangoon; the experience of working with Burmese, Indian and Chinese plasterers, gilders and carvers, and eastern art and design, had an influence on some of Ernest's later works.
In 1931, spurred on by receiving various commissions for industrial designs, he invented a new art form that he called Diaphenicons. These were painted and glazed decorations that provided their own light source, and he exhibited them at the Leicester Galleries.
In 1934 he was appointed Director of Studies in Design and Craft at Glasgow School of Art. The strain of his new role and the travel involved caused him to have a cerebral haemorrhage the following year (in North Shields) en route to resume his teaching duties.
[See Misc section below for greater detail by TFG Jones.]
Painter of landscapes, figures and allegorical subjects, muralist and industrial designer
works and access
Works include: Delphiniums (1907); Visitation (1933) and Deposition (1935) for B Walke at St. Hilary Screen; St. Mary's Church, Penzance (destroyed); The Coming War; The Terrace, Versailles 1921; Mother & Child and Malo Gate, Dunkirk (1924); painted ornament, and wall mirror (1925); Helston Flora Dance and The Edge of the Shadow, (for RA, 1926); Earth, Water, Fire, Air (1928); Spring Hawthorn (w/c); The Road to Sancreed (w/c); Rising Tide (1936); The Zodiac
Displayed in 1985 (NAG & Barbican): The Cliff, Newlyn; Newlyn River; Porthgwarra; Beach Scene; The Merry-go-round; All the fun of the fair; Penlee Point; The Day's End;
STISA 1927-1935: Group exhibitions & touring; Pictures of Cornwall and Devon 1946
Retrospective, Oldham Municipal Gallery 1924
Access to Work: Imperial War Museum; Tate; Leeds (many); Newcastle; Penlee House Gallery & Museum; Worthing// Adelaide
NAG from 1904, July - First sale 1909
1985: Painting in Newlyn 1900-1930, NAG & Barbican Art Gallery (with exh cat/book C Fox) 8 paintings displayed
1987: Looking West, Paintings inspired by Cornwall
1989: A Century of Art in Cornwall, CCC centenary, Truro (selected)
1990: Dod Procter RA and Ernest Procter ARA, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle
1992: Royal West of England Academy, Bristol: Artists from Cornwall
NAG & NSA (1924-34, Trustee 1928-34)
misc further info
TFG Jones writes: Ernest Procter, painter and designer, came from a Northumberland family of Quakers, following his father as a pupil to Bootham Friends’ School at York. His father, Henry Richardson Procter, was a scientist and a specialist in the chemistry of leather who gained an international reputation, becoming a professor at Leeds University and a Fellow of the Royal Society.
In 1907, Ernest joined the art colony at Newlyn and became a pupil at the Forbes’ School of Painting. In 1910 he spent a year studying at the Atelier Colarossi in Paris, and in 1912, he married the fellow painter, Dod Shaw, who had worked with him in both Newlyn and Paris. When the Great War broke out, Ernest volunteered for the Friends’ Ambulance Unit and returned to France. In 1918, he and Dod came back to Newlyn and remained until they travelled to Burma to work together on the commission to decorate Rangoon’s Kokine Palace. By this time he had proved himself a prolific painter of portraits and landscapes, but he had also produced notable watercolours and drawings, particularly of his war experiences.
During the 1920s Procter achieved more success with his portraits and also explored religious and allegorical subjects. Portraits of Sir Thomas Beecham and Frederick Delius were bought by the National Portrait Gallery, and he painted the allegorical The Zodiac (1925) that was to be bought posthumously by the Chantrey Bequest. He continued to show regularly at the Royal Academy, and produced religious paintings for three local churches, St Mary’s in Penzance (later destroyed by fire), and the parish churches of Newlyn and St Hilary. Through most of the 1920s he ran, with his colleague and celebrated Newlyn artist, Harold Harvey, an all-year-round painting school. And, always adventurous, in the early 1930s, he began to design glassware, furniture and carpets for industry. In 1934, he took up an appointment as Director of Studies in Design and Craft at the Glasgow School of Art.
A year later, this kindly, industrious and highly-principled man collapsed and died of a stroke in his native Tynemouth, when on a return trip from Newlyn to his work in Glasgow. He was 49.
Fine Art Society (2009) WAR (col pl 18: Army Ambulances by the Docks, 1919)
Hardie (1995) 100 Years/Diary (col pl)
Hardie (2009) Artists/Newlyn & West Cornwall pp259-60 (bibl) & col pl
TFG Jones [in Hardie 2009] 'The Procters' illus with family photos, pp104-7
Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership
RWE (1992) Artists from Cornwall Exh cat
Tovey (2003) Creating a Splash (illus)
Tovey (2010) Sea Change
Long list of newspaper references/ WCAA file