Arthur Charles KEMP

King's Heath 1906 - Birmingham 1968


Born into a Quaker family, Arthur Kemp had wished to study art but, facing the disapproval of his father, was instead trained as a musician, studying the cello at the Midland Institute in Birmingham. In the mid-1920’s he joined the City of Birmingham Orchestra, where he met his future wife. Shortly after their marriage in 1934, Kemp entered the Birmingham School of Art, winning an award for excellence in arts and crafts at his graduation in 1936. He was also qualified as an art teacher, and was thus employed for the next few years, while continuing to work as a painter, as well as a silversmith. In the early 1940’s the Kemp family moved from Kings Norton in Worcestershire to the town of Rugby in Warwickshire. Kemp spent much time travelling around Wales, where he would often find subjects to paint, and had a second home at Llanystumdwy, on the river Dwyfach. One of his few public commissions was a very large mosaic for the Rugby College of Technology, while a second mosaic of The Virgin and Child proposed for the rebuilt Coventry cathedral never progressed beyond preparatory drawings. In 1960 Kemp suffered the second of two strokes, which left him without the full use of his left arm, though he continued to draw and sketch as often as possible.