By Anna King

On 22nd April 50 years ago, Vincent Lines, Hastings resident, artist and former Principal of the School of Art, died. The anniversary is being marked by an exhibition at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery from 24th March until 24th June 2018. The Museum already holds and regularly displays a number of Vincent’s works in its permanent collection, including several of local scenes. The exhibition has gathered in a further wide-ranging selection of his work from private collections.

He was a lithographer, watercolourist, illustrator, painter in oils, teacher and, for over half his working life, the Principal of the Hastings School of Art. He moved to the town in 1945, being appointed Principal from among seventy applicants, having been master in charge of Horsham School of Art for the previous ten years. In Horsham he was known for his cross-curricular approach and emphasis on practical skills.

Hastings Art School was then in the Claremont Buildings (Brassey Institute) above the Library. Vincent, with his red hair and strong views, was a well-known figure in the town. He had a flat on the top floor above Lloyds Bank on Pelham Street, looking out over both the castle and the sea. He painted many pictures in Hastings, both from the windows of the flat and around the town, where he liked to paint in situ rather than in his studio. On one occasion a photograph appeared in the local paper of him painting in Alexandra Park undeterred by the snow.

Vincent had started his career at seventeen as a lithographer while still a student. He would carry the fifty pound stone needed for the process to the site he was going to draw. He continued to do this throughout his time as a student at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art, getting about on foot and by bicycle (even in later life he never drove a car). He left the Royal College with a travelling scholarship which took him round Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy and Ireland sketching and painting, and sending illustrated letters home to his family. However his greatest love became France, where he travelled and painted for the rest of his life.

Wellington Place, looking towards the Castle by Vincent Lines PICTURE: Alexander Brattell

In 1939 he was elected as an associate of the Royal Watercolour Society, a full member in 1945 and Vice President in 1966. During the Second World War as well as continuing his job in Horsham he was asked to contribute to the series, Recording Britain, produced by the Pilgrim Trust to ensure that aspects of Britain threatened by the war were recorded in art. He was offered a position as painting tutor to Princess Margaret; he declined this but did paint, in 1943 and 1944, a set of watercolours of the Elm Walk in Windsor Great Park which are now in the Royal collection. So he arrived in Hastings with both excellent qualifications and wide experience!

In 1947 Vincent‘s parents moved to one of the houses in the ex-Coastguard Station on Toot Rock in Pett Level. Vincent used the house at weekends and in the college holidays as a base for going on foot and by bicycle round Pett and Romney Marsh in order to paint. He died suddenly in 1968 at the age of 58 and is buried in the churchyard of St. Mary and St. Peter in Pett, as are his parents.

Vincent Lines Memorial Exhibition, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, Free entry, 24 March-24 June, Tuesday – Saturday 10am-4pm (5pm from April), Sunday 12noon-4pm (4pm from April).


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