I N TRODUC T ION
Anyone who has seen Walter Bonner Gash’s paintings will be surprised that he is not better known in the world of art history. His paintings are fresh, intimate and beautiful. He showed talent from an early age, followed his dream despite a lack of encouragement from his family, and worked in Kettering, a town which produced a number of wellknown artists at the turn of the last century. Yet, in spite of this, his oeuvre is only now being critically reappraised. Visitors to the Alfred East Art Gallery in Kettering have long known of his art and he is one of the most popular artists in the collection, alongside Thomas Cooper Gotch, Albert Chevalier Tayler and, of course, Sir Alfred East. The Corn Exchange, Kettering
Gash was not a native of Kettering but moved there in the late 1890s. He was born in Lincoln in 1869. His family moved to Nottingham where he was educated and, after leaving school, he designed lace for Nottingham’s lace trade. However he returned to Lincoln to become a student of the School of Art where he won many prizes and medals. He furthered his studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Antwerp. On returning to England he became an Assistant Art Master at Lincoln Art School for a short while until he moved to Kettering. His long-term stay in Kettering was unplanned as it appears that he was on his way to London when he stopped at a friend’s house and, during his stay, decided to remain in Kettering. He soon became an instructor in art in Wellingborough and then Kettering Technical Colleges. He was later appointed Art Master at the old Grammar School in 1907, remaining in Kettering until his death in 1928.
Self portrait, c. 1916–17, pastel, collection of the artist’s daughter
He had a studio in the Victoria Hall on Gold Street from the late 1890s, before he married, subsequently in the Corn Exchange. He taught to earn a living. He is recorded as having been an outstanding teacher, always encouraging his students to develop and retain their own personalities. He was one of the first members of Kettering and District Art Society